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.