No4 stanley iron won’t back off sufficiently

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  • #690422
    sebastiaan
    Participant

    Hi All,

    I have two No 4s, one of which I wanted to give to my brother, but the iron won’t draw back in all the way into the body of the plane (it just draws back in sufficiently if you pull up on the iron when closing the lever cap, but once it’s set to cut, doesn’t withdraw anymore due to the slack in depth adjuster – depth adjuster hole in the cap iron). This means it’s a bit of a pain to set it to a very shallow cut, although it does otherwise work well.

    Comparing the two frogs, I saw that, on the problem one, the pin that holds the swivelling depth adjuster is placed about 5 mm further downwards (towards the throat) than on the second frog (pin to edge of frog=86 mm vs. 91 on the other one). I think that probably creates the problem.

    I wondered if anyone else has encountered this before, and came up with a solution? Is it indeed the location of the pin that’s the problem? I don’t think I can redrill the hole as I don’t have a pillar drill. I did think I could perhaps take 1 or 2 mm off the front of the cap iron, as that would bring the cutting iron back up a bit relative to the swivelling depth adjuster. Would that negatively affect the working of the cap iron?

    Any thought would be much appreciated!

    Cheers,

    Sebastiaan

    PS Just for reference, the problem plane is a plastic handled one, but the Stanley brand on the cap iron does have the smaller font (I was thinking 60s/70s?), and is older than my other No 4 which has the bigger lettering (90s I believe). The machining and paint job generally looks nicer on the older problem plane, except for that wee issue…

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by sebastiaan.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by sebastiaan.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by sebastiaan.
    #690442
    Hans Kremer
    Participant

    The levers for the adjustment are readily available on the web for a lot of planes. Alternatively, take a piece of iron and a file and make one yourself that fits your needs.

    Cheers

    #690471
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    There are several things you can do to diagnose the issue.having two planes helps. I’ll do this in order of ease of diagnosis.

    1) the most obvious is the cap iron ( chip breaker) is set too far from the end of the cutting edge of the cutting iron. You should be able to get as close as 1/32” (1 mm) to the edge.
    With the adjustment nut retracted, Try pulling the cutter/ cap iron assembly back when you assemble the plane and tighten the lever cap. If the plane iron is retracted, that will indicate there is excessive wear someplace. Either get u sed to assembling the plane that way or replace worn parts.

    2) the cap iron hole that egages the adjustment fork may be worn. Swap the cap iron with the “ good” plane and see if that helps. If it solves the problem but you now have The same issue on the other plane, you will have to replace the cap iron. They are relatively cheap if you buy Stanley. Hock ones are more expensive but have closer tolerances and the iron end can be ground back more easily. The ‘hump’ in the cap iron makes this more dificult with Stanley irons.

    3) the brass depth adjustment nut may be worn. Again, swap with the other plane and see if the issue goes away.replace a worn nut.

    4) the adjustment fork may be worn, either where it engages the cap iron or (less likely) where it engages the brass nut. This one is a bit trickier. If the fork is the later cheap one made of two pieces of stamped steel , you can remove the fork, bend the two metal pieces a bit and reinsert the fork. You have to drive the pin out in one direction only with a drift pin or nail and it’s been so long I can’t remember which way .
    Light taps only. If it doesn’t move, try the other way ( to the right, I think, but I’m not sure) remember the fork is cast iron and fragile. Don’t force things.

    4A) If the adjuster fork is a one piece cast piece you CANNOT bend it. Breakage is 100% guaranteed.
    The only solution is a replacement fork. There are available either on eBay ( I use New Hampshire Plane Parts) or from Bob Kaun in Washington state. I have no idea if you are not in the USA. Tell them why you want the fork so they send you a fresh one. These are both good folks that way. Under $20.

    There is a slim chance on some frog designs you can solve the problem by opening the mouth up. On some versions the fork is lifted when you retract it. You just won’t have a tight mouth( maybe the frog is adjusted too tight)

    And you may have a harlequin plane where somebody put the wrong frog in the plane. I can’t help you if that’s the case. Look for a proper frog. Talk to a reliable vender who will help you find the right one, but a who,e different plane may be cheaper.

    And use one of the plane type studies on line to find EXACTLY what model you have. You seem vague about the model. hyperkitten has the best type studies I see.
    https://www.hyperkitten.com/tools/stanley_bench_plane/start_flowchart.php

    Last resort, remove the adjuster nut and you have a plane you hammer adjust like great grandad had. It’s not as big a deal as you might imagine. I have several planes ( old # 78’s, a #289 , a record #043) that were made to be adjusted that way. I fine tune lateral adjustment on most of my planes with a brass hammer. Lie Nielsen even show people how to do that at their tool events and sell a mighty expensive hammer to do it with ( two types, in fact).

    #690473
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    Before any modification, are the two cap iron identical? If not what about swapping them to test?

    I have a cheap Silver%$£! #4 for which I have shortened the cap-Iron to resolve this problem (about 1mm) . It works.
    Later I have used a punch and a hammer to make the hole in the cap-iron a little tighter.

    see dimples on the cap-iron:

    Attachments:
    #690475
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    Good solution!

    #690479
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    Thanks Sebastiaan,

    After giving a 9″ radius to the blade of a #6 , it no longer could be fully retracted. Now I understand why: the cap iron is placed beyond the capacity of the adjustment mechanism. Some trigonometry in beforehand would have prevented the situation, saved me a lot of grinding, and now regrinding to a 12″ radius.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Attachments:
    #690494
    Cunha
    Participant

    Sebastiaan,

    I have just reread your question and saw that Sven mentions a radiused cutter while you don’t. If you have a radiused cutter that prevents the cap iron from being very close the the blade end my initial answer will apply. Otherwise go to the end.

    I have the same behavior on a post-war #5. Once I realized that it is due to the cap iron being back from the edge more than usual I don’t worry about it. The radiused iron is specifically for heavy cuts so I use another plane for light cuts. My blade is cambered at around 8″ radius on that plane.

    In other words, my solution is to do nothing. You can acquire another blade and cap iron that is straighter and swap that out for lighter cuts or acquire another plane specific to lighter or heavier cuts.

    To keep the iron from cutting the shelf that it sits on I keep a 1/4″ square piece of wood on the shelf that elevates all the planes off the shelf. It also helps with air circulation and rust prevention.

    If you don’t have a radiused cutter, the cap iron should be no more than 1/32″ (.7mm) from the end of the blade. Try setting both planes in this way and see if there is a difference. If there is a difference swap the irons between the planes and see if the problem follows the blade or the plane.

    It would be valuable to know more once you have looked more closely at your tools.

    #690495
    sebastiaan
    Participant

    Thanks Hans, Larry and Benoît!

    Sorry, should have said, I’m in the Netherlands and both planes are “Made in England”. I had looked at those nice plane dating sites (ha!), but have not found such nice type chronologies for the English Stanleys, but I think both are probably newer than the type 20 which are the latest ones in the American listings as far as I have been able to find (the one definitely is younger, I bought it from a guy who said he got it new in the 90s). Do you get the plastic handles on the American planes too after type 20?

    I had swapped all loose parts (except the forks, I was worried I would break something taking the pins out) on the two planes to check where the issue was, and the problem always stays with the one frog/fork combination.

    To go through your suggestions, following Larry’s items:

    1) cap iron is at 1 mm from the cutting edge. I can retract the cutter/cap iron assembly back a bit as you said, about 1.5 mm (and have indeed been using it that way – the annoying thing is when you want a shallower setting, as you have to take the lever cap off and reset the plane before continuing (as with the hammer adjustment on older/wooden planes..more aggressive is easy, but shallower hard – I tend to just stay on a shallower setting with such planes to avoid having to take it apart). The fork end could be a bit worn. It’s width is 0.5 mm less than the newer (unproblematic) fork. Isn’t there always some play though, as you can spin the depth adjusment nut if you go from extending to retracting and vice versa? I’ve only ever used these Stanleys as they came, so not sure if you don’t have the spinning/slight play with tighter hock cap irons.

    2) the holes in the cap irons are the same size, and the cap irons are near identical, only the hole for the fork on the non-problematic plane’s cap iron is actually located half a mm up, so swapping makes the problem worse. Yes, the hump was what I was worried about in my plan to grind the cap iron back a bit, but perhaps I should just try as the cap irons aren’t expensive as you say. Good to know that worked for you Benoît!

    3) Swapped the nuts, no change

    4) Forks looks like cast iron. I worried it would indeed break if I started playing around with that… and in a visual check (without taking them out) the curves on both forks look very similar. The fork is very loose, but as said seems to be attached further down the frog than on the other plane (as in the pin is further down along the lenght of the cutting iron’s bed). Perhaps I should try swapping the forks (good to know the pins are one-way, thanks Larry!), that would give me half a mm, then grind a tiny bit off the end of the cap iron and perhaps use Benoît’s punch method. All together, that should probably get me there. Another thought I had was to look for a junker with a broken body or messed up sole and swap the frog, which might perhaps be easier…

    Thanks again all! Very nice to be able to share thoughts about these things.

    Cheers,

    Sebastiaan

    #690497
    sebastiaan
    Participant

    Thanks also Sven and Cunha!

    No radius on my irons (although getting a scrub iron/plane is on my list, so good to know about this issue).

    I have the cap irons very close to the cutting edge, about 1 mm. I think the main issue is the location of the fork’s pin, maybe made worse by some wear, but my non-problematic plane can retract the iron a few mm beyond the sole, so without the wear, it would still only be marginally retracted at best on the problem plane.

    Cheers,

    Sebastiaan

    #690499
    Cunha
    Participant

    Hi Sebastiaan,

    1mm is too far for the cap iron. Shoot for .25-.5mm.

    When you need a fine cut the small distance is appropriate. For a very heavy cut, the close cap iron will clog the mouth and be hard to push. The setting varies by the work you are doing.

    The hole to end distance is your biggest problem. I’m surprised that they are that different. I had some English Stanleys from the 80’s with plastic handles. While they weren’t great they were decent. The biggest problem was with flatness and ugly handles. If you have machined surfaces for the frog interface it would be one of their better planes. If rough cast it may not be worth too much bother.

    Check your cap irons against the dimensions on the Hock website to see which one is the odd one. If one is too long there is no reason not to shorten it.

    http://www.hocktools.com/BK200small.jpg

    Good luck

    #690504
    sebastiaan
    Participant

    Thanks again, Cunha! The plane’s frog seating is machined and handles okay. It has a better feel actually than the newer plane which does retract fully. Nice to have those dimensions.

    Cheers,

    Sebastiaan

    #690540
    Cunha
    Participant

    These were my English Stanleys that I sold. You can see the setting of the cap iron on the #6.

    Attachments:
    #690556
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    Thanks Sebastiaan,

    After giving a 9″ radius to the blade of a #6 , it no longer could be fully retracted. Now I understand why: the cap iron is placed beyond the capacity of the adjustment mechanism. Some trigonometry in beforehand would have prevented the situation, saved me a lot of grinding, and now regrinding to a 12″ radius.

    You could just shorten the cap iron and keep the tighter radius.

    #690560
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    Do you get the plastic handles on the American planes too after type 20?

    We got British planes ( maybe some Canadian Stanley’s) for a bit in the 70’s and 80’ss, but most vendors switched over to Record planes( Garret Wade in particular)
    Some of them were what Stanley made for Montgomery Wards and Sears under their labels. Made right after the war, they looked exactly like type 20’s

    Until veritas and Lie Nielsen came along your bet bet was to go to estate sales and pray. ( Thomas Lie Nielsen worked as a clerk for Garret Wade and made his first planes for Them after he quit there)

    That’s how I got almost all my benchnplanes.
    A couple have history, coming from the Studebaker carriage family.

    #690580
    sebastiaan
    Participant

    Nice!

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