Shelton Hand Plane Study

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By Eric Brown

For a good write up on Shelton history see:   Shelton #04 or maybe not. | TimeTestedTools

Some of the planes shown here either have been or are in process to be nickel plated. Most exposed metal has been polished.

To the left is a No. 12, to the right a No. 18. 

The No. 12 has a cast iron body about 2” wide x 6 7/8” long weighting 1lb. 6.3 oz (634 g).It is marked “Shelton” at the toe, “U.S. PAT. NO. 1914609” under the cap, and “Made in USA” at the heel.
The cap is cast and has the patented feature of a lever that engages one of two square holes in the blade. This is to adjust the blade depth. Lateral adjustment is made by manually pushing on the blade itself. The blade is 1 5/8” wide x 4 ½” long, .080 thick. The blade is not marked and has two .235 square holes for adjusting and compensating for wear. The plane has enough heft and strength to make nice shavings, but the adjuster is somewhat sloppy and difficult to make fine adjustments.

The No. 18 has a stamped steel body similar to a Stanley 118. The front knob and adjuster frame are welded to the body. The adjuster has a fine left handed thread and is retained with a wire snapped into a slot. The adjuster has a pin sticking up that engages a slot at the top of the blade. The blade is 1 5/8” wide x 4” long, .072” thick. It also has a slot down lower. The blade is marked “SHELTON” in a curved box. There are no markings on the body. There are also two extra blades marked “Shelton” in the curved box and “PAT. PEND.” below that. Thes blade differ in that they are 1 5/8” wide x 4 1/8” long, .072 thick.

The patent, # 2423713 shows a bent lever that has an eccentric to adjust the lateral position. However, this plane has a simple non-movable welded post like the Stanley 118.

The No. 12 and No. 18 apart.

The above shows two Shelton #3 sized planes showing both a rusty version and a cleaned polished one that will be nickel plated. I originally bought these two because I like interesting mechanisms. I also knew that they would look better if given a serious clean up and polish. This tool uses both the 1914609 and 1929504 patents, but not completely. The first patent has the basic linear adjuster where the second patent shows an additional lateral adjuster. The first patent has a “traveling rectangular block” that goes into a square hole on the blade for adjustments. Lateral adjustment would be made by manually shoving the blade over. The second patent has a separate lateral adjuster. MacAller combined the rectangular block and lateral adjuster into one piece. One feature not seen from the second patent is a graduated scale on the blade adjustment screw.

I am referring to these planes as a “#3 sized” as none of the literature I’ve seen mentions this size. The only markings easily seen are on the clamping plate. It is marked “US PAT NO 1914609” Upon removing the rust and paint I also found stamped at the toe “PAT PDG”. There is also a stamped “P 4”  between the blade and tote. These could not be seen without the deep clean. The adjuster is a brass screw with ¼-20 left hand thread. Right below the knob is a .366 diameter that goes into the clamp plate. A small pin is inserted from the bottom that goes into a groove to retain it. I have drilled this pin out and carefully removed the adjuster for cleaning with a .1065” #35 drill bit. The pin was replaced with a 6-32 threaded extra-long extended tip set screw McMaster # 95289A006.  The plane is 2 1/16” wide x 9” long. The blade is unmarked. It is 1 ¾” wide x 4 ¼” long x .073 thick. There is one square hole .215 across. The cleaned plane weights 1lb 15.8 oz (903 G) and the rusty one 2lbs .6 oz (925 g). Note that on the polished plane I have smoothed out the flats on the tote for comfort.

The No. 3 sized Shelton apart.
The No. 3 sized plane adjuster bottom
The No. 3 sized plane marking at the toe.
Shelton No. 4 sized plane

This Shelton No. 04 plane is the same size as a Stanley #4. At first glance it looks very similar to the #3 sized plane and many times the two are confused by sellers as to which is which. The plane is 2 3/8” wide x 9 3/8” long. It weights 2lbs 2.7 oz (985 g). It uses the same basic adjustment system with several small changes. The adjustment screw has the same ¼-20 left hand thread but instead of a retaining pin, the shaft extends through the clamping plate, where it is peened over. The blade is 2” wide x 4 5/16 long, .076 thick. It has a single 2.41” square hole that is larger than the  one on the #3 sized plane.

The clamp plate is marked with “US PAT No. 1914609”. The body is marked with “SHELTON” at the nose, “NO 04” between the knob and blade, “US PAT NO 1914609 MADE IN USA” between the blade and rear tote. To tell the difference between the two planes, first check for markings. Then look at the adjuster. The No.04 has a smaller shaft where it goes into the clamp (.25”), protrudes through the casting and is wider compared to the knob. Shelton also made a No. 5 that was constructed the same as their No. 4 and was the same size as the Stanley #5.

The No. 4 plane apart.
Shelton No. 504 plane

This Shelton plane is a #4 sized plane. It is marked “Shelton” at the nose, “504” under the frog, , “US PAT NO 1914609 MADE IN USA” between the blade and rear tote. The adjuster is made differently from the earlier versions in that the moving block that engages the blade is retained inside the adjuster casting and the adjusting screw is retained with a clip. There is no lateral adjust lever, but the blade can be adjusted by pushing the adjustment knob sideways. The blade pivots on a special bolt with two flat sides. Rotating this bolt ninety degrees allows the blade and adjuster to be lifted off.

Shelton No 504 apart
Shelton No 504 adjuster bottom

The pictures above show the Shelton No 505 apart and the adjuster bottom.

Shelton planes with linear adjusters

The three different Shelton planes with linear adjusters.

Shelton linear adjusters

The three linear adjusters apart for comparison.

Shelton No 9 plane

The Shelton No. 9 version of the Stanley #4. It is marked “Shelton No. 9” between the knob and blade and “Made in USA” between the frog and rear tote. The lever clamp is marked “SHELTON” on the top and “11U” under.  Under the frog is marked “U4”.  The lateral adjuster is marked “SHELTON” and is similar in construction to Sargent’s. The blade is 2” wide x 7 3/8” long, .078” thick. It is marked with a curved “SHELTON”, an Indian head below that, and then “MADE USA” below that. It uses a chip breaker similar to Stanleys. The blade adjustment is made with a 1” brass knob on a left handed thread. The Y yoke is made from stamped steel parts assembled similar to Sargent’s design. There is a frog adjustment screw like used on later Stanleys.

Shelton No 9 apart

The Shelton No. 9 apart.

Shelton No 9 frog

The Shelton No. 9 frog.

Shelton No 9 blade marking

Shelton No. 9 blade marking.

Shelton 1948 Ad

The above ad shows many of the tools Shelton made in 1948. Note that the No. 504 is not shown.
The No. 14 shown is a Stanley #5 sized plane with the Bailey design.

Patent imaged courtesy of

In conclusion, the Shelton planes are limited to coarser work or clear grained woods. Most of the planes have no chip breaker and wide mouths that are not adjustable. All the planes had grind marks on most surfaces, including the sides and bottoms. So why collect them? Well, they are interesting to look at and study. If you ever see one with the micrometer scale on the adjuster, buy it.

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