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Hand Tool Corner

Hand Planes

In this section of the newsletter, I am planning to share information and resources specifically related to hand tools. Each month I want to share information about hand tools, their use, and their makers that I think you will find interesting. This is a new concept and I want to encourage Guild members to let me know if this is useful information and you would like to see this continue. 

The first installment is from a recent blog post from the Lost Art Press website by Megan Fitzpatrick. It focuses on the parts of a typical hand plane and how it can be adjusted. This information is excerpted from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing. I have this book and highly recommend it for those interested in traditional woodworking, especially those interested in hand tool woodworking. 

Fig. 1 – Adjustable iron plane. A-Body, B-Frog, C-Cutting iron, D-Cap iron, E-Lever cap, F-Cap iron screw, G-Lever cap screw, H-Knob nut and screw, I-Knob, J-Handle nut and screw, K-Handle, L-Lateral adjusting lever, M-Y adjusting lever, N-Cutter adjusting wheel, O-Frog screws, P-Frog adjusting screw. 

Excerpted from “The Essential Woodworker,” by Robert Wearing. 

In order fully to understand the workings of the metal plane it is a good idea, particularly for the beginner, to strip down the plane to its smallest component. If you have an old or secondhand plane this is a good opportunity to renovate it. Even if the plane is mis-assembled and maladjusted, no damage can be done to it. Figure 1 shows the structure quite clearly and gives the correct names to all the components. It will be seen that there are three distinct adjustments. 

The depth of cut, that is the thickness of shaving removed, is controlled by the cutter adjusting wheel. The wheel running up and down a left-hand thread operates the Y lever. This in turn engages in the Y lever socket of the cap iron (or breaker), which it moves up or down. The blade is secured to the cap iron and is moved by it. 

The second adjustment is lateral. The lateral lever has a circular stud at its end. When the plane is assembled it must be made certain that this stud fits into the slot in the blade. Movement of the lever thus moves the cutting edge sideways, preventing one corner from digging in. 

The third adjustment is commonly called closing or opening the mouth. The whole frog is moved forward with the blade and the effect is to alter the size of the gap in front of the blade. The lever cap screw should be just sufficiently tight to make sideways movement of the blade with the fingers difficult but not impossible. 

Last updated on 04/22/2021

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