Record 044, fence wont stay parallel

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    Steven Mitchell


    I purchased a 2nd hand Record 044 plough plane on ebay last year, and for the most part I have really enjoyed using it. It came with a full set of irons and its helped me make cuts I would otherwise had to spend extra money on a table saw or router to create. I am a fledgling carpenter, trying to teach myself, so bear with me if I get the names of things wrong.

    However, something that is causing me a bit of grief is the Fence. when resting against the plane body, the fence is parallel and flush. once I set a distance (in my current project 3mm) as soon as I tighten the screws to lock the fence in place, the front steps out, and/or the rear steps in, for a total difference of about 1mm. I am using the original metal fence, and I was considering creating my own wooden plate that is angled to counter this pull from the fence, but I would like to address the issue directly if its possible.

    There is play in the fence against the rails (both the short and the long), and tightening the screws seems to take advantage of this play and makes the fence sit at this awkward angle. Does anyone know of anything I can try (flattening the sides of the rail maybe, or the bottom of the screw?

    Its difficult to show in static pictures, but I can try if someone knows what they want to see. As an example, I have an offcut of 3mm ply that I used to gauge the distance required. Loose screws, and I can pinch the fence to the plane body and keep the ply sandwiched between. As soon as I tighten either the front or rear screw, the ply falls out at the front. Hopefully that describes the issue well enough.

    Larry Geib

    First off, realize that the iron should be proud of the shoe, and that it is the FENCE , not the shoe that guides the cut. 1mm+ is not too much. That goes also with the sliding shoe.

    Then check to see if the rods are straight and parallel. You may be able to get them so by rotating one or both rods. . Make sure the holes in the plane body, the sliding shoe, and the fence are,clean with no flash or swarf in them. Filing the hole is, I think, an absolute last resort if you can’t use the plane. It’s not reversible. And for heaven sake don’t try bending any castings.

    What is reversible is messing with the rods. You can slightly bend or file one or both rods, then rotating them to get the fit you want. We aren’t talking much. You can also file the rods where they fit in the plane body to get the alignment you want. Rods are easily replaced if you screw up, or you can turn the rod end for end and try again..

    But I’ll bet this is more likely the cause.:

    I found on my 043 that the rods that came with my plane were under size and caused the misalignment by not being the right distance apart when you tighten the screws. They bent. The fence and sliding shoe shouldn’t have a lot of play, and mine did. You shouldn’t have to bend the rod to seat the fence or sliding shoe. If your rods are sloppy in the holes away from one thumb screw when you tighten the other, that’s almost certainly your problem.

    I replaced mine with ones I made from old drill bit shaft from Irwin long shank spade bits. That were a few thousandths bigger. Spade bit shafts are,different sizes so some will probably fit. You can even buy a new one and cut it up. It’s cheaper than buying drill rod at a metals dealer and one bit will do two rods or more. Polish the rod for easy sliding.
    If you do think you need to buy drill rod, use drill bits to find the right size to order.
    The goal is a snug fit.

    This is more likely the issue than the thumb screws. They shouldn’t be able to move the rods. But I think the proper size is 10-24, so if you want to file something, buy some from the hardware store to mess up. They are cheap.

    Only try changing hole alignments as an absolute last resort.

    Steven Mitchell

    Hi Larry,

    There is indeed a poor fit of the rod into the fence, the plane body is much more snug. I wonder if a previous own has had a file to it as the hole looks imperfect, though I can’t see any obvious tool markings so it might be just a poor cast. I will check out my current stock of drill bits and see if I can find one of a closer fit, failing that I can try filing a side of the rod and see if I can find that balance. The rear rod is definitely a poorer fit, and swapping the rods doesn’t seem to help.

    You say +1mm isn’t a lot, but when my current workpiece is only 10mm thick, and I am making a 3mm (1/8th) groove, that 1mm is actually a huge issue.

    Thanks for the help.

    Larry Geib

    Here is how much different the old and new rods were on my plane

    I think the rods were supposed to be 9/32” on the 043
    That’s about 7.14mm.


    It’s been interesting reading, so far and Larry Gelb has tried valiantly to define the problem….

    First, I think that it’s fair to say that plough planes have never been a ‘precision’ tool. The old wooden ones work beautifully after 150-odd years, but the fence and arms of these are very often a loose fit – much like a carrot in a shirt-sleeve – which is compensated in use by fixing the setting, adjusting the fence so that it is exactly parallel with the main stock and then tightening the wedges. They remain set in that position, working well and generations of cabinet-makers can’t be wrong.

    Likewise, the Record 044 and its iterations by Marples and others isn’t by any definition an exact tool. The 044 was in production for almost 40 years with a brief interruption during the War; it came back minus the Nickel plating for a while in the 50s and continued in production until the late 70s. During that time production quality inevitably varied.

    Now, if as you said, you have a snug fit of your rods in the main body stock and (with the fence removed), the rods are parallel and straight along their length, I’d venture confidently that there’s nothing wrong so far.

    If you now add the fence and if it tightens adequately along the full travel of the rods without moving, but has a noticeable bias so that it is not parallel with the main stock, then the problem lies in the fence. Loose fitting holes is not a good idea, either.

    Please DON’T file bits off the rods! It’s probably not their fault.

    You have a number of options.

    1 Sell the whole thing on and get another……

    2 Ditch the dodgy fence and get a good-fitting replacement (they come up on a well-known auction site). However, there’s no guarantee that another will exactly fit yours…..

    3 Compensate for the any misalignment in the existing fence by adding a wooden liner to it. Record have already provided holes for this, so it is a traditional fix. You may then adjust the running face of the wooden fence by planning it to shape, so that it is sitting at right angles to the vertical axis of the main stock and then plane it straight along so that the length is parallel. This will take up any discrepancies.

    Among other plough planesI have a No: 044 and although my problems are not as severe as yours (all the rods and holes fit exactly) a wooden fence adjusted as I mentioned improved the performance greatly.

    Good luck……

    Steven Mitchell

    today is the first day i’ve had a chance to try, so I will let everyone know how it goes. I won’t be filing any metal parts, just trying to make a fence liner. Tried in vain to find a youtube video but no such joy.

    Steven Mitchell

    I can happily report success.

    My gratitude to Larry Geib and to YrHenSaer for their comments and advice!

    (Turns out the rods or the holes into which they fit were the cause, as i got at least 1 degree of play in each direction).

    Larry Geib

    Glad it worked!

    The bonus is you will now smile every time you picked the tool up, knowing you made it better.


    Glad to hear it all works……
    We’ve seen the problem in pictures, it would certainly help me if we could see a picture of your fix……..
    Good luck with it!

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