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Dome-Top Discovery


I still have mine-a classic Stanley dome-top from the 1960s. (It's the one sitting on the bench, above). It was the only router we had in the shop I apprenticed in. I loved this machine, particularly the shaft-lock button located on top of the dome. When it wore out I thought the router was done for.There was no way to lock the shaft in order to replace a bit. A few years later, I found a similar router with an intact button, and a lot more history, sitting on a forlorn table at a flea market. One man's trash became my new treasure.

I had stumbled on a big, green, rusty box labeled "Carter Tools -Electric Plane." Inside was a well-used carpenter's dream-machine of long ago: a handheld planer powered by a dome-topped router motor. Wouldn't you know, that motor was a dead ringer for my Stanley! Taking this prize home, I unscrewed the dome, removed the button, put it in my router, and was back in business.

Turns out the green box was toted around for years by a carpenter who worked in a hospital and primarily used the planer for fitting doors.

The planer is an exquisite piece of engineering. It has a fully adjustable fence, a helical cutter, and a front sole that adjusts up and down to regulate the depth of cut.

I've no idea how old the Carter Electric Plane is-maybe one of you can help me out here-but it has an illustrious pedigree. A fellow named Ray L. Carter is often credited with having invented the router back in the early 1920s. In the early 1930s, his business, the R. L. Carter Co., was acquired by the Stanley Works, where it operated as the R. L. Carter division and made the Electric Plane. Stanley made dome-top routers for many years, but sold the line to Bosch in the 1980s. Compared to new routers, the most striking feature of these old Stanleys is their bodies; they're entirely aluminum and have gracefully aged to a beautiful pewter color.

Not long after my flea market find, I stumbled on another old Stanley dome-top (it's the router to the left of the planer), and added it to my growing collection. My original machine is still going strong, but I figured that someday I'd be looking for yet another button!

We look forward to

The new

ShopBot PR alpha BT32 "Buddy" is here Call or visit us online to learn more about the latest high-performance CNC systems from ShopBot.

What would you make today?

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