The Yoke and its initial ‘setting’.

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    Steve Hadley

    Hi, this is probably a very novice question. I bought a cheap no. 4 Stanley from ebay which has been cleaned up but clearly needs some work. I have been taking it apart to familiarise myself with its workings. I have struggled to get the iron and cap sensibly lined up in the throat as there is some play and also, depending on where my wheel is, it is either too far extended into the mouth or too far away from it when loading. Is there a ‘rule of thumb’ as to where you ‘set’ the wheel and yoke before loading the iron and cap iron? I imagine that it must need the ability to be able to turn clockwise and anti-clockwise to extend or retract the blade, and I guess it might be, for me, a question of trial and error. Many thanks.

    Matt Mahan

    Every craftsperson will do this a bit differently, Steve, but my method when loading the plane is this:
    (1) with blade and breaker removed, I set the breaker onto the iron so that it’s very close to the cutting edge (.5 to 1mm for a fine cut, about 2-3mm for a heavy cut) and tighten it up with a big slotted screwdriver
    (2) set the plane upright onto the benchtop
    (3) somewhat gingerly set the blade/breaker assembly into the throat (bevel facing down of course) and allow the cutting edge to rest on the benchtop, through the mouth.
    (4) then I draw up the depth adjuster wheel so that the yoke protrusion aligns with the small horizontal slot in the breaker
    (5) adjust the lateral lever so that the disc slides into the long vertical slot in the iron, fully bedding the plane against the frog bed
    (6) drop the lever onto the plane, adjusting the levercap screw by hand until the lever just slides into position with the cam lever released (unlocked)
    (7) further tweak the levercap screw by hand with the lever unlocked until locking the lever results in a satisfying snap that I describe as “crisp but not nasty”
    (8) set blade position visibly
    (9) refine blade depth and lateral position by taking shavings off edge of board clamped in the vise and making adjustments until I get a thin and even shaving off both sides of the iron.

    You will only need to complete a process like this for initial setup after disassembly. Once you have set it up once, things will be in the correct position (more or less) as you loading/unloading to reaharpen.

    Does that sound like the process you are looking for? Or does there appear to be some mechanical trouble at play? Two things to check that can lead to alignment issues that I have encountered:
    (1) ensure the frog is the proper distance from the mouth. This is adjustable of course but, to start, just ensure the bottom edge of the bed “ramp” blends right into the ramped back edge of the mouth opening. Adjust backward for thicker iron/heavier cut (but not so far as to interfere with proper blade bedding) or forward to close the mouth for a fine cut.
    (2) ensure the cap is the correct one for your plane. A lot of ebay planes are “frankesteins” in that they are cobbled together from parts taken off several other planes, which is usually just fine but can create issues. I have seen someone try to sell a No 4 with a breaker that was designed for Stanley’s transitional (wooden-soled) planes, and so the yoke slot was not in the correct place. This is not likely causing any issues you are facing.

    Steve Hadley

    Thanks for the steer, Matt. Your process makes a lot of sense to me and I will try it to see if it fixes the issues I was having. When the plane arrived I took it apart and the frog was set quite well back and wasn’t straight. I fiddled around with it and had it lined up with the rear of the mouth but when I dropped in the iron and breaker, the blade was basically almost extended past the front of the mouth. I ended up fiddling around and switching things, and got it pretty close to how I thought it should be, but I will re-assess as I did end up moving the frog back. It hadn’t even occurred to me to rest the iron on the frog so it just protruded and adjust! I may have got there at some point but you have helped enormously.

    I will let you know how it goes and whether I am experiencing other issues. Many thanks once again, Matt.

    All the best


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