Stanley Woodworking Tools

History of the Stanley Rule & Level Company

In 1843, American industrialist, Frederick Trent Stanley, founded Stanley's Bolt Manufactory of New Britain, Connecticut to manufacture door bolts and other hardware from wrought iron. In 1852 they changed the name to the Stanley Works, which continued to make hardware under that name. At that time, Henry Stanley was the president of the Stanley Works.

The Stanley Rule & Level Company got its start in 1854 when the Stanley brothers, August and Timothy joined, with another rule maker, Thomas Conklin to form new business. At the same time, they acquired the existing rule business of Seth Savage of Middletown, CT. When this company merged with the Hall & Knapp Co., it became known as the Stanley Rule & Level Company. This company had a separate identity to the Stanley Works, which continued to manufacture hardware.

Henry Stanley became the first president of Stanley Rule & Level Co. while also serving in the same capacity for the Stanley Works Co. Finally in 1920 the two companies merged into one Stanley Rule & Level Company (S.R. & L). They continued to expand its product line by buying other companies that were already making tools that they wanted to add and to expand their market by acquiring their competitors.

During the late 1800s, the Stanley Rule & Level Co. acquired the following companies:

  • Hill & Crum, Unionville, CT
  • Charles L. Mead, 1863
  • Bailey, Cheney & Co., 1869
  • Leonard Bailey & Co., 1878
  • Bailey Wringing Machine Co., 1880
  • R.H. Mitchell & Co., 1871
  • Upson Nut Co., 1893

By purchasing these other companies and competitors, they also acquired some very important patent rights including the following:

  • Patents for a variety of metal plane designs and improvements issued to Leonard Bailey from 1855 to 1903.
  • Patent for a tool handle from Nathan S. Clement on March 19, 1867
  • Patents for levels from W. T. Nicholson.
  • Patents for planes from C. G. Miller
  • Patents for planes from G. A. Warren
  • Patents for planes from Justice Traut.

The Stanley Rule & Level Co. began producing folding rules the expanded into levels. After acquiring the patents of Leonard Bailey, they got into the woodworking plane making business producing a line of metal planes using Bailey Patents. The produced a variety of planes including the basic bench and block planes, rabbet planes dado planes, compass planes, and other specialty planes. You'll find many of these planes on the pages on this website.

Stanley has been manufacturing the Stanley Hand Plane since 1869 when the first iron bench plane was produced. Stanley planes had a superior design that made it easier to fit a board with a Stanley plane.

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