Tuning a Stanley bench plane
Eric Jensen will demonstrated techniques for tuning a Stanley/Bailey type bench plane, as well as how to prepare scrapers and plane irons for maximum performance. In addition to being a skilled woodworker and guitar builder he drew upon his machinist background to get your yard sale plane in top condition.
- Disassemble and clean it.
- Fit the frog to the sole. Mark each foot on the frog with a sharpie, and rub it in place to see where the contact points are. Use a file or a scraper(better) to remove metal until testing indicates decent contact on all four feet. Then apply coarse valve grinding compound (avail at auto parts stores) and rub. test with sharpie until good contact is achieved all around.
- Flatten the top of the frog. use 220 SiC paper on a glass plate.
- Ease all the sharp edges on the frog using a file.
- File a 10 deg. relief on the frontside of the throat. Use the sharpie, and a square with a scriber to get this front opening straight and sguare to the sides of the plane body. Be fussy!
- Replace the blade/chipbreaker with a Hock assmbly. Don't be cheap! This step takes the plane from being a decent tool to a exceptional tool.
- Assemble the plane, and install the iron/chipbreaker. Retract the iron so it does not protrude.
- Flatten the sole. Use plate glass, and 100 grit, progressing to 220 grit and steel wool to polish. Stroke the plane in one direction only and be careful to apply pressure uniformly. Draw lines across the sole with the sharpie and stroke on the 220 paper to see if they all disappear uniformly. This is pretty easy to get good on small planes and a real chore on big ones. If you get the areas in front of the mouth, toe and heel to clean up, it's good enough.
- Clean the plane, and break sharp edges with a fine file.
- Hone the iron.
- Set up plane. Assemble, but do not tighten the frog screws too much. Adjust the plane to take a fine shaving evenly on both sides of the iron. Move the frog forward to obtain a 1/64" opening in front of the iron. You will also need to twist the frog slightly to get the opening parallel. Once satisfied, remove the iron and tighten the frog screws, but not too much.
A 1/64" (.015) mouth is OK for general planing tasks. For fine smoothing, this opening needs to be about .005 inch.
- Make test shavings, the plane should be able to make shavings about .002 or thinner if the blade is sharp. Except for Jack planes, most planes should be set to produce shavings as indicated above. Jack planes can be set for a rougher cut, with the mouth opened slightly (.020) to accomodate.
- Enjoy your properly working plane!
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- Fine Woodworking on Planes & Chisels Various Authors
- Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools by Jim Kingshott
- Fifty Years A Planemaker and User by Cecil E. Pierce
- Making Wooden Planes by Leonard Lee
- Making Traditional Wooden Planes by John M. Whelan
- Making And Mastering Wood Planes by David Finck
- The Impractical Cabinetmaker by James Krenov
- Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use by Toshio Odate
- The Genius of Japanese Carpentry by S. Azby Brown
- Shoji: How to Design, Build, and Install Japanese Screens by Jay Van Arsdale
- Misugi Design
- Hirade America
- Hida Tool
- The Nature And Art Of Workmanship by David Pye
- A Cabinetmakers Notebook (etc) by James Krenov
The New England Luthiers is an association of professionals and amateurs brought together by a common love of making stringed instruments