Stanley 45 Combination Planes – Buying Tips

I recently got bit by the combination plane bug and ended up with three different Stanley 45(ish) planes. I have since been working to restore and use these planes in my workshop.

I made a couple important observation that I wanted to share with anyone else who may be interested in combination planes.

  1. There are TONS on ebay. Don’t be too eager and wait for the perfect one.
  2. Don’t rule out antique stores. One of mine was purchased in this way.
  3. The earlier models (although much more ornate) lack a TON of features the more recent ones have.
  4. 9 our of 10 times you will only get one cutter with this plane. If that’s okay with you then you should consider a Stanley 78 or something else less expensive. If it’s not okay, expect to spend another 100-200 dollars USD for the cutters.
  5. In the spirit of number 3, consider a Craftsman 3728. Ebay often has them NOS with all cutters for much less than a Stanley 45 (and are often made by Stanley anyway).

Now that I’ve got that out of the way I wanted to share my finds. I’ve been trying to date and type them and have each down to within 5 years.

These are my babies starting with the one closest to the camera.

Stanley 45 and Craftsman 3728

This is the Craftsman 3728. It came ready to use out of the box (the original box, I might add) after sharpening up the cutters. It performs beautifully and required no restoration. This is my every-day-user. I haven’t had a chance to do much research on these planes, but the manual was copywriter 1950, so it’s at least that old. It also has all of the bells and whistles you would find on the most recent Stanley 45s.

The next one I haven’t had a chance to de-rust yet, but is from 1890-1895. It has all of the ornate flower designs. It has almost zero features including a depth adjustment screw. This one will accept slotted and unslotted cutters and you use a mallet for depth adjustment. It kind of sucks to use. Adjusting the cutter deeper is easy, but bringing it back up is all by hand. The fence screws into the body so you can’t move it to the opposite side of the body.

The last one (partially restored) is from 1910-1915. This one is more on par with the Craftsman as far as features, but is still not as pleasant to use. This one is also missing the front knob.

In the end I may keep number 2 for display purposes, number 1 for using, and sell number 3 after I finish restoring it.