Hand Tools Archive
Bill Houghton, Sebastopol, CA
I owned the Record version of a 151 for a while, but let it go, replacing it with a Stanley 52. The Stanley 51 has gull-wing handles that curve up in an arc. The 52 has handles that come straight off the body of the shave. You have to learn how to set the blade by hand, which I do by setting the shave down on the bench, gently pushing the blade down to the benchtop, and tightening the lever cap. If I need more depth of cut, I put a piece of paper or card stock under the front of the shave body. It takes practice and repetition sometimes to get it right, but hang in there; you'll get better with time. But, once that's done, the lack of the adjusting nuts makes for a better balanced shave that can go into tighter spots (I was always bumping the nuts into the wood as I went around inside corners).
I prefer the 52 over the 51 because of how I hold the shave, something I learned somewhere (here, a Fine Woodworking article, can't now remember): I grip the body at the body/handle joint between my thumb and index finger. I rest my other fingers on the handles without gripping the handles. All my fingers work together to inform me of the shave's orientation to the wood. I found the straight handles of the 52 more comfortable with this grip.
Based on my travels and perusing of deBay sales, it appears my opinion is a minority opinion: a lot more 51s are around than 52s.
51s and 52s go on deBay for $10-20, so, unless your budget is super tight, you could try both to see what you prefer.