Avatar Of Willard AndersonWillard Anderson
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Stanley had a patented method to temper irons (I believe it was in a molten lead bath), which allowed them to be very reproducible in tempering.  For this and other reasons, you generally can not go wrong with older planes.  You will always have to do some work on these planes (cleaning up, removing rust, etc.,) but in the long run this is a great learning exercise to see exactly how your plane works and to learn how to fettle it.  In an emergency, I did purchase a big box store Stanley plane and on the first stroke, the cutting  edge of the plane rolled up, much to my surprise.