Leonard Bailey was a tool designer in the 19th century, who,
working on his own and later for Stanley Rule and Level Co. (now
Stanley Tools) , designed Bailey, Victor, and Defiance bench planes,
or tools used to smooth the surface of wood. His designs became
models for most planes made after mid-1800s.
Bailey started out as a cabinetmaker before becoming a toolmaker
in Boston, where he produced innovative bench and block planes,
scrapers, and spokeshave during the 1850s. Bailey's first patent,
in 1855, describes a scraper plane with an adjustable cutter. The
blade was mounted on a plate that pivoted near the sole of the tool.
As the angle changed, the depth of cut changed.
Soon after, Bailey adapted the principle to metal bench planes.
He mounted the cutter on a pivoting casting installed between the
sides of the metal body. Angling the blade forward simultaneously
increased the depth of cut and the mouth opening. Shifting it
backward decreased the opening and depth of cut for fine work.
Bailey also patented the lever cap that held the blade in place.
Bailey's 1867 patent shows the plane design we are most familiar
with today. The plane's cutter moves along a 45 degree bed by means
of a forked lever that's activated by a knob. This mechanism was
used on both wooden and cast-iron planes. Bailey is also credited
with the adjustable frog - the bed on which the cutter rests - and
the cap iron, a thin piece of metal with a curved edge that's
fastened to the cutter to keep it stiff.
Until May, 1869, Bailey ran his own factory - Bailey, Chaney &
Co., which he sold to Stanley Rule and Level Co., giving them the
right to manufacture tools under his patents. However, in 1875,
after inventor Justus Traut patented the No.110 block plane Stanley
had in production for several months, Bailey terminated his contract
with Stanley, claiming that sales of the plane cut into his
Shortly thereafter, he developed the 'Victor' plane line to
compete with the Stanley/Bailey planes still in production by
Stanley. He fought several unsuccessful patent infringement fights
with Stanley and lost a significant battle in 1878 when the Stanley
company won a decision against Bailey and the Victor line of planes.
The decision resulted in Bailey's sale of the Victor business to the
Bailey Wringing Machine Co. of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He moved
there to produce Victor and Defiance planes and tools.
From 1876 Catalog - Back Cover.
However, in 1880, Stanley took over as the sole agent for
Bailey's Victor planes. After a series of patent-infringement suits
and charges of industrial espionage, Stanley bought the entire
Victor production facility in 1884 and then discontinued the line.
(In 1936, Stanley resurrected the Victor name for a few years and
applied it to a series of inexpensive homeowner-grade tools.)
Bailey, meanwhile, stopped inventing nearly altogether and became a
manufacturer of copy presses. Though his ideas are often taken
credit for by the Stanley Co., his genius as an innovator is
preserved for ever.