Over the weekend, I received a box from The Fine Tool Journal with a couple of planes that I won in their latest auction. I’ve been disappointed with my winnings the past few auctions as I have only won one lot at each auction after sending them two pages of my bids, but apparently that’s my fault for not bidding high enough. Nevertheless, I was happy to get something from them. Inside was a Stanley No 104 Liberty Bell plane and this guy. An odd looking bronze plane with GTL stamped on the lever cap.
Searching online, I discovered that GTL stands for Guaranteed Tools Limited. It was a short lived plane maker in London, England from the 1920-1930’s who marketed to the DIY and amateur carpenter market. Apparently, the makers of these planes were trying to fill a gap between the Stanley Bailey planes that were taking the world by storm and the traditional Norris style planes that British craftsmen were accustomed to using at the time.
The lever cap and frog look rather crude which made me to believe at first, that it was user made. According to guys on UK woodworking forums, these planes were garbage to use. No one liked them as they thought they were too light and the “Norris” adjustment was a joke compared to real Norris style planes.
Intrigued by the plane, I decided to restore it and see how well it performed. I removed all the paint that the previous owner sprayed on the body and handle and sharpened the blade.
The plane cuts, but not very well. The biggest issue with it was because the Norris adjuster doesn’t have any lateral adjustment, I was unable to dial in the cut when the blade was cutting too heavy on one side and not enough on the other. I would have to either play with the setting of the frog or hone the edge at a slight angle for it to take a nice feather like shaving. Neither of which I was willing to waste my time doing.
Another big issue with the plane was the screw on the bottom of the bed that holds the tote in place stuck proud of the bed’s surface leaving gouge marks on the work piece when I used it.
Obviously, when I took the plane apart to clean it, I removed the screw so when I went back to install it, it wasn’t in the exact position it was before I removed it. This left a little nib of the screw head sticking proud of the surface which I had to file back down.
The oddest thing about the plane is that the frog is bent for some reason making the blade and cap iron not seat fully on it. I’m not sure if it was manufactured that way or if it got damaged some time during it’s life. No way would I try to bend it back straight. Knowing my luck, I’d end up cracking the frog in half.
All in all, it’s a fun to look at, but not the best to use. If the idea of a Norris style adjuster on a modern bench plane appeals to you, just buy a Veritas or even a new Stanley plane and avoid all this nonsense.
12 thoughts on “GTL British Plane”
It does look cool, Great clean up. Too bad it doesn’t work well.
99% of all old hand planes just sit on a shelf or in a box so, this will do just nicely shining on a shelf with 50 other planes.
I have the same plane and the frog is also bent, i was given it by my dad who says it belonged to my grandad ‘ i spent all day yesterday taking it apart and cleaning it up as we are in the middle of a virus lockdown and it’s one of those jobs i’ve been meaning to get around to . It is also made of brass and is identical to yours only it has been crudely modified into a rebate plane !! i’ve got it going and it works ok and looks pretty cool too a nice heirloom to keep and hopefully use one day soon as i am a carpenter myself so it would be nice to try and use it at least once.
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That’s awesome. They’re a fun little plane to use.
The frog on the plane I brought yesterday was also “bent” – it straightened easily without damage with a few lights taps with a hammer. Obviously a weak point caused by using brass.
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Thanks for the review. They look really solid and workmanlike. Glad I read your article before I put my hand in my pocket – Function before form!
Guaranteed Tools Limited were sold through mail order – usually on a payment plan – and were advertised in the popular British woodworking magazines of the day. The company wasn’t so short lived, as you could still buy these planes up until the 1960’s.
They’re not great to use, in all honesty. Sure, you can get them to cut ok, but there’s usually issues with them, regardless. The frogs – in particular – are often bent.
These planes started life under the brand “Una-Oid”, then marketed as “Whatco”, before being sold on – and rebranded – to G.T.L. Una-Oid and Whatco planes are fairly rare, but there are plenty of G.T.L.s still in the wild.
Most of the insides of the bodies and frogs were painted black originally. The problem is that paint doesn’t really stick to brass (yes, these are brass, rather than bronze) all that well, so most of the paint has worn off on existing planes – hence the all brass look.
At the end of the day though, these planes do look good on a shelf.
If you want you can also check out an Una-Oid plane at my Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/p/B4w7TMkg13G/
Awesome! Thanks for the info
How much are they worth? I was offed one for £55 thought it was to expensive at that price!
I’m not sure over there but I sold this plane for about $50-60 a couple of years ago.
Just bought one amongst a job lot just looked like a old grubby looking plane ,worked out to £10 ,did not know it was brass untill got it on my workshop bench, spent a hr giving a rough clean up not iterested in its performance ,like other old tools I have bought like my 200yr old brace it will sit on a shelf ,looking good would of payed a lot more for a great looking ornament
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They look great on a shelf. Stick a wire on the back of it and hang it on a Christmas tree. Even better! 🤪