When I chose the term clone for my previous posts, I thought long and hard about whether or not it was the best term. A clone is an object that can be regarded as identical to another object. Most cloned planes were identical, albeit with different re-seller markings. Planes produced that are basically copies of other companies planes – I like to think they are more like doppelgängers – they are similar, but may have some structural or cosmetic differences.
Take for example the block planes sold by Keen Kutter – in the period 1906-1912 the planes they sold were made by the Ohio Tool Company, from 1913 to 1942 they were made by Stanley. The KK9½ was a clone of Ohio Tool No.9½, but later became a clone of Stanley’s No.9½, and renumbered K9½. Ironically, the Ohio Tool No.9½ was actually a doppelgänger of the Stanley No.9½ – it had similar blade depth and lateral adjustment mechanisms to that of Stanley, only retaining Ohio Tool’s unique round “handi” finger holds and mouth adjustment lever. However the modifications were enough to allow it to be mistaken for a Stanley 9½. In this case there is no evolution between the different types of plane. (A type study is often performed in order to provide a timeline of a particular planes evolution, which can be used for dating planes). How did the KK9½ differ from the No.9½? The were exact copies, the only modifications being the trademark on the cutter and KK9½ embossed on the plane body, usually forward of front knob. Cloning was an efficient way for a hardware company such as Simmons to offer a large catalog of tools, without having to have the manufacturing facilities to make them.
The Ohio 9½ block plane circa 1910
Examples of doppelgängers abound – consider the No.120 produced by Record – a plane copied from the Stanley No.120, but with minor modifications. This is not surprising considering it wasn’t until 1931 that Record began manufacturing planes. The planes have a similar form, the core difference being the mechanism used in blade depth adjustment (the Stanley No.120 always used a lever, whilst the Record No.120 used a block-and-screw). Planes that were produced without some form of patent protection were easy for other companies to copy, and there were no real restrictions on using the numbering system of Stanley.
The No.120 doppelgängers
The Stanley No.18 knuckle joint block plane is another form of clone. The Stanley No.A18 is a clone of the No.18 – the only difference being that the A18 has a body made of aluminum to reduce weight.