Last updated: 12 August 2016
Representative group of Stanley butt chisels
I can't recall the nomenclature we used to describe the different types of chisels when I was a young man so I have opted to use here the nomenclature from contemporary Stanley tool catalogs.
Butt and pocket chisels with bevel edges were quite popular for general purpose use. I have always had a fondness for Stanley chisels and have used them quite often.
No. 50 "Everlasting" socket butt chisel (3" long blade)
Older Stanley chisels such as the "Everlasting" socket chisels were still quite popular in the late 1940s.
This very durable chisel certainly lived up to its name and had a very long production life.
No. R40 Heavy Duty Pocket Chisel (4½" long blade)
This, along with the similar No. R50 Heavy Duty Butt Chisel and the No. R55 Glazier Chisel, were essentially No. 40, No. 50 and No. 55 "Everlasting" chisels with black rubber composition/plastic handles. The "R" prefix was an early 1930s designation -- it was dropped in 1949. These were very rugged, high quality chisels that could withstand a great deal of heavy use and abuse.
The above example chisel is stamped on the top of the handle with the famous STANLEY within an Orange cartouche -- similar to that used on Bailey bench planes of this period. MADE IN USA was stamped on the opposite side of the handle and a plain Stanley cartouche logo was stamped on the top of the blade.
No. 60 tang butt chisel (3" long blade)
This, along with the similar No. 61 paring chisel, was introduced in the early 1930s pretty much concurrent with the introduction of the No. R50/R40 and 700 series chisels. What made these chisels distinctive was the use of "Stanloid" -- Stanley's much touted plastic -- for the handles. These were rugged, high quality chisels that held up well under heavy use.
This chisel is stamped STANLEY No. 60 on the steel tang -- this is probably an early stamping as it appears later production chisels were stamped on the plastic sleeve. The heavy duty steel butt cap on the No. 60 chisel was a carry over from the "Everlasting" series of chisels.
The No. 66 Kit consisting of ¼", ½", ¾", 1", 1¼" & 1½" No. 60 plastic handled bevel edge butt chisels, originally in a black plastic roll, first appeared in the 1949 Stanley tool catalog.
From the time of their introduction in the early 1930s, No. 60 plastic handled butt chisels (indeed all plastic handled chisels) were marketed as premium chisels by Stanley.
No. 750 socket butt chisel (3½" long blade)
It seems to me that the No. 750 butt chisel was the one most used. I don't remember seeing any No. 740 pocket chisels being used.
These chisels were stamped STANLEY No. 750 MADE IN USA on the steel socket - a distinctive feature of them was the reddish brown varnish finish of the handles (described by Stanley in their catalogs as brown mahogany). The No. 1251 "Defiance" chisel was essentially the No.750 with a different company stamping on the steel socket and a naturally finished wood handle. The "Defiance" line of Stanley tools was described by the Company as being of somewhat lower grade, although the quality and finish of the steel that was used in the No. 750 and No. 1251 chisels appears to be about the same.
No. 720 socket firmer chisel (6" long blade)
These chisels were stamped STANLEY No. 720 MADE IN USA on the steel socket - again, a distinctive feature of them was the reddish brown varnish finish of the handles (described by Stanley in their catalogs as brown mahogany).
No. 161 tang butt chisel (2½" long blade)
I think most apprentices and craftsmen had at least one wide butt chisel in their tool box. This type of chisel was very useful when installing hinge plates in cabs and making lap joints such as those on flat bed truck bodies.