Picked up a rare Stanley block plane from the U.K. – a No. 60½A. These were manufactured in the U.K. in the 1980s, and distributed predominantly in the Commonwealth (not sold in the U.S.). This plane shows one of the few attempts at innovative design in block planes between the 1960s and the late 1990s.
The No. 60½A, was subject to a UK patent (No.2046650A), received in 1980. The patent dealt with the unique lateral adjustment lever, and not with the more unique lever cap cam-clamping mechanism.
The No. 60½A, is unique in a number of ways. Firstly the profile of the plane diverts from the standard block plane profile, with a less normalized curve (looks more like a gentle undulating hill). The body also has a circular “Hand-y”, similar to the block planes of the Ohio Tool Co. The blade lateral adjustment mechanism can be pivoted from side to side using the rear tabs.
The second unique feature, and the one which is likely weirdest from a design perspective is the lever cap mechanism. The lever cap feels quite light, I would almost say it was constructed of aluminum. The brass tab used to cam- lock the lever cap in place – in the vertical position it locks the lever cap in place, when pushed forward it unlocks the lever cap. No other manufacturer has ever used this form of cam-lock.
The plane is hefty, weighing in at 650g (≈23oz), and is extremely comfortable to use. It has a throat adjustment mechanism, but the eccentric lever is attached to the body of the plane, and cannot be removed. Overall, I like the aesthetics of this plane, even though it does seem somewhat “clunky”. The eccentric lever lacks the “finesse” of older planes, and even the brass knobs of the throat and depth adjustment mechanisms seem somewhat awkward.
It almost has a retro feel to it.