Preventing accidental change to cut depth in bench plane

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    Matt Mahan

    Curious to get the group’s thoughts/experience on this one: I’ve been tightening up my expectations from my bench plane and am now getting very nice thin shavings, confidently. With the thinner shavings, I noticed something: if I set the plane down, let’s say, less-than-carefully, the next shaving I take is often a bit heavier. That is, the iron has slipped forward. Now I’m not talking about a careless toss into the tool well, I’m no bully, I just mean occasionally if I’m switching tools in a hurry or moving something out of the way, maybe I let the heel drop a bit onto the bench instead of gingerly setting the plane down. I think that’s a fair expectation of a working tool. A quick spin of the depth adjuster is hardly a nuisance, so it’s not so much a problem I feel I MUST correct, but curious if there might be an issue with the yoke/breaker engagement, or if anyone else encounters this. I should also mention I always finish an adjustment the “proper” way – that is, on a forward or clockwise turn of the wheel, such that the backlash is behind the yoke and the blade won’t retreat up the bed when I go to take a cut.

    Larry Geib

    Try a little more tension on the screw that holds the lever cap. The goal is to have it firm but still allowing adjustment.

    Matt Mahan

    Thanks, Larry. I know that’s always a bit of a balancing act.


    When you load the iron, try pulling the blade up along the surface of the frog, withdrawing it from the throat and then, while holding it at the upper limit, latch the lever cap. This is just taking the slack out of the blade position on the frog. I don’t have a lot of confidence this will help, but it is a source of backlash and worth at least trying.

    Do you have a bare metal upper face on your frog, i.e., not covered in paint or grunge? If not, you can try lapping the face of the frog. You’re just trying to clean it, not change it and not polish it. Coarse is fine.

    Is it all of your planes or just one? Can you exchange lever caps to see if the problem follows the lever cap? Is there a hump in it? Does it mate with the cap iron well?

    Benoît Van Noten

    To be nicely adjustable, the iron-cap/cutting-iron assembly must be able to slide smoothly between the frog and the lever-cap.
    Otherwise one will struggle to find the balance between firm and adjustable.
    Remove any burr (whether caused by stamping the pieces or by a nick)
    – on the frog;
    – on the back and edges of the cutting iron, including the middle slot;
    – on the top and edges of the cap-iron;
    – on the underside of the lever-cap where it meets the cap-iron and also under the springy thing under the lever.
    Pass the “rag in a can” on everything.

    This doesn’t imply polishing everything.

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