The Stanley 53 is no longer made by Stanley. What a shame. Although,
I think some other tool manufacturers may have taken the design. In any
case, the 53 is relatively easy to find and is usually very reasonably
priced. I've never paid more than the price of a new English made Stanley
151. In fact, I've never paid more than $10. Although, I'd happily
pay more for one in good shape.
The main benefit of the 53 is the adjustable mouth. This gives the user
the option of taking very fine shavings or trying to chew off a little
more wood with a wider mouth and a deeper cut. The mouth is adjusted by
turning the small thumbscrew on the top of the spokeshave.
Using this plane is not quite as easy as most fixed mouth spokeshaves.
When the mouth is adjusted, the adjustment moves the front of the mouth
closer to the blade but it also adjusts the angle of the mouth. Consequently,
the front of the mouth is never in the same plane as the rest of the sole
of the spokeshave. As a result, when using the plane you must be careful
to keep the weight on the forward part of the spokeshave. Maybe there
is some trick I'm missing. These old Stanley shaves don't exactly come
with directions so I just have to assume I'm doing it right.
If you don't have a spokeshave and you happen to run across an antique
Stanley 53 I suggest you give it a try. As far as woodworking tools are
concerned, it is one of the better tool values going. If you are looking
for the best spokeshave ever designed, I'd have to say Brian Boggs and
Lie-Nielsen have done a nicer job. However, at 10 times the cost, those
spokeshaves are just not 10 times better for occasional woodworking.
Overall Rating 5 out of 6.