Old Bedrock #602 prior to Tune Up
(with Crack in side)
Any reasonably well-made
Plane can be Fettled (tuned) to produce those lovely thin shavings we hear
about, shavings less than 1 thou. (thousandth of an inch) or 25micron, thin.
Fettling will not be
as effective unless the Plane is clean. Shavings
and dust stuck under the Frog can distort the Base.
apart, remove any rust, clean the threads and lubricate
clean the machined
areas on the Base which the Frog contacts
machined areas under the Frog which contact the Base
upper surface of the Frog on abrasive paper glued to a flat plate. This does not have to be perfect as Irons are
rarely absolutely flat.
Base, sides and sole ready for flattening.
Frog on the Base, align the upper face of the Frog with the back of the mouth.
repairs to the Tote ‘n Knob, refinish with shellac or varnish as required.
Big Three Essentials in Tuning a
Plane: Blade, Sole, Back Iron
all 3 to get a Plane to work. Other “Points
of Fettle” (see later in text) will improve performance slightly but are not
essential for general purpose planning.
cleaning the Plane. Take it apart, remove
Frog and clean any waste. Clean threads
of screws. Clean machined mating surfaces
and reassemble the Frog firmly but not over tight. Add the Iron and Lever at normal operating
tension. Wind the Iron back.
- Blade (aka:
-Clean & Debur
Clean and debur. New Blades- Remove
“varnish” coating and debur. Make sure
there are no burs in the Slot. Do not
assume that a new Blade is perfect.
-Check for straight/flat
should be flat – many old Blades are bent or twisted. Check that the Bevel-side of the Blade is
flat, if it has a hump, it will not bed
flat on the Frog and can be distorted when the Lever Cap is locked down
resulting in a convex cut (the Plane will cut deeper on the outside of the cut).
40mm of the Iron must be flat or hollow – it must not have a hump. There must be a few mm of flat polished area
right across the width of the Iron. If
not, the Blade won’t get perfectly sharp and, the Back Iron may not meet
perfectly right across the width of the Blade and shavings can jam in the gap
resulting in the Mouth of the Plane clogging.
If it has
a hump, use a very coarse stone or lightly grind with a Die Grinder or
Dremel. If using a Dremel, work on the
high spot a little, check by rubbing on a coarse stone, Dremel more, test again
– repeat until the Hump is gone. Don’t
work too much with the Dremel without checking to avoid damage, stay away from
the tip – work at least 1mm back from the tip of the Blade.
matter if the Iron has a hollow Face but it must not have a hump.
-Polish the Face
be a few mm of polished area at the tip of the Blade. Work through the grits of your stones until
the finest produces a polish with no rogue scratches.
45-45-90 Hold the Blade flat on the Stone with a
comfortable grip, hook a little finger under the Blade to stop it from dropping
but make sure not to let this finger lift the Blade- if so, the Blade won’t be
flat anymore. With the lower 40mm on the
stone at 45o, rub with constant pressure using the full length of
the Stone – this will help with consistent wear of the Stone and so not develop
a hollow (very important for the softer Japanese Waterstones). Rub 20-30 strokes and change sides –
alternate back and forth until the area at the tip is polishing all the way
across. Before progressing to the next
finest Stone, give 5-10 rubs at 90o to create a set of sideways
scratches instead of those at 45o.
These are Indicators. Progress to
the next grit repeating the 45o – 45o procedure until the
90o Indicators are all gone.
This will ensure that the deeper scratches from the previous grit are
all replaced by finer scratches of the current grit. Work at 90o to create a new set of
Indicators and change to the next finest grit.
Repeat through to the finest Stone you have – 6,000#, 8,000#, 10,000#. This process will ensure that there are no
rogue scratches left at the end and it should be a mirror finish.
-Grind at 25 o
on a wheel or by hand on an extra coarse or Hollow grind on a wheel – but not
less than 8”/200mm dia. as it will create too much of a hollow and reduce
strength at the tip.
the tip is square to the sides of the Blade, especially with Low-angle Block
grind straight across the tip but make a slight curve if required for a
Smoother Plane (#2,3,4) or for a Jointer (#7,8) if planning edges for a “rub”
joint. Grind a heavier curve for a Scrub
Plane (#40) or any “roughing” Blade.
the corners on a straight-ground Smoother Plane Blade so that a step is not
left when planing a wide board.
-Hone at 30 o
the hone area, the longer it takes to hone – so we don’t want to hone the full
depth of the grind area, all that is needed is 1/2mm of highly polished area at
the tip. Freehand honing is fine but
guides give the same angle all the time giving repeatability each time thus
eliminating errors encountered by many recreational woodworkers without
freehand experience. Start on a fairly
fine stone and finish on the finest – 6,000#, 8,000# or 10,000# if you have
it. Flip it over and polish the Face,
back to the Bevel – repeat a few times until the wire edge is gone from the
tip. After all this, the result should
be: two polished faces meeting at the tip – and it WILL be sharp. If relieving the corners (best done with a
honing guide) raising one side while honing until about 5mm off the stone then
down again, do the same for the other side.
If honing a light curve, apply extra pressure to one side then over to
the other as honing. For heavier curves,
probably best to hone freehand sideways on the stone.
occasions when a Back Bevel is required:
Plane. Increase the Approach Angle of the Plane from
normal 45o to 50o or even 55o when working
difficult cranky grain.
Plane. Reduce the main bevel from 25o to
15o and add a 10o Back Bevel. In a regular angle (22o) Block,
this will lower the approach angle from 52o to 42o
(assuming 15o grind and 20o hone) without reducing
strength at the tip. Do the same with a
Low Angle Block (12o) will reduce the approach angle to 32o.
Face. Useful if the Face of
an old Blade is pitted – adding a 2o – 5o Back Bevel will
provide a polished face at the tip – only needs to be 1mm deep.
Back Bevels, use a thin Rub Strip on the side of the fine honing stone to raise
the Blade – at 50mm projection, 1mm height will give 1o Back Bevel,
2mm for 2o etc.
Back Bevels of 5o – 10o a honing guide is recommended,
e.g. Veritas Mk. II. Doing this freehand
is risky – very easy to damage the stone if not done correctly.
-The 4 “R”’s
Ready – to prepare a
Refresh – rehone the Blade
Regrind – when the
honed area gets too deep, it takes too long to refresh (maybe ½ the depth of
the grind) – this is the time to regrind.
Unless the tip is damaged with a chip, there is no need to grind right
up to the tip but leave it at 1/2mm from the tip – there is no need to create a
new bur which will then take extra time to remove.
Restore – a Blade with
a chip, neglected or abused Blade.
The Blade must
be sharp, if not, any other Tuning will be wasted.
and Record Blades are adequate but better quality steel Blades are even better
and give longer time between honing. The
harder steel can need faster cutting diamond plates for the rougher part of
including the Mouth
abrasive paper to a flat surface using spray contact adhesive, e.g. craft
glue. Use anything between #60 - #220
depending on how bad it is, how fast you want to work and the surface finish
you want to achieve. The surface should
be flat but if is cupped or bowed, use the other side. i.e. have the convex side up.
the sole must be done with the Plane fully assembled at normal tensions of
screws and Lever Cap. The Base will
distort during assembly so the flattening must be done after assembly, not
plane low – grip it as low as you can, don’t use a normal grip at top of Tote
and Knob as the Plane will rock and cause uneven abrasion.
Use even downward
pressure all the time. Especially on the
entire abrasive surface so a hollow doesn’t develop in the middle as the
abrasive particles wear down. Regularly
use a brush to whisk away the dust. Wear
a mask if you don’t like cast iron dust.
a Straight Edge.
Bearing Blue or Texta if the Abrasive Surface is flat. Don’t totally rely on this method unless
technique is perfect – check with the Straight Edge.
Plane around from time to time.
doesn’t have to be dead true for the entire length but it should be flat across
the Sole in the area of the Mouth and it needs to be flat at the tip, around
the mouth (especially at the front) and at the rear. It doesn’t matter if there is a hollow
between tip and mouth or mouth and rear but it can’t be convex between those
Do not use
Belt or Disc Sanders, Surface Grinders or Milling Machines if you want the Sole
to be flat.
care with #10 series Rebate Planes as they can distort during the flattening
process due to too much pressure in the one place. Remember: keep the grip low and change the
grip now and then.
Iron (aka: Cap Iron, Chipbreaker)
-Clean & Debur
Iron should be flat but the Tip should protrude about 2mm from lower side. This will ensure that, when the Screw is
tightened, there is perfect tight contact up near the Tip of the Blade so
shavings cannot get underneath and clog the Mouth. New Back Irons usually have 4 – 5mm of Set
which will bend the Iron so that it won’t contact the Frog which can result in
Chatter and the Plane hops along the board.
the Tip of the Back Iron, we undercut the front edge by rubbing on a medium
grit stone which is a few mm higher than the Rub Strip. Aim at 1-2mm right across which must reach
-Polish the nose from tip to top
Iron has 2 purposes. Firstly to give
strength to the Iron so there is less opportunity for vibration. Vibration results in shatter, poor finish and
the Blade may dull quicker than normal.
New Back Irons usually have 3-4 mm of set at the tip which will bend
when tightening the screw resulting in the Iron not being seated flat on the
Frog. 1-2 mm is all that is needed to
keep the tip of the Cap Iron seated firmly on the back of the Iron. The front tip must seat on the back of the
Iron otherwise dust and shavings can get in-between and clog the flow from the
mouth of the Plane. Using a medium grit
stone, dress the under front edge so that it has 5-10 degrees of undercut and
is flat all the way across the tip. When
tightening, set the tip of the Back Iron 1-2 mm back from the tip of the Iron.
function is chip-breaking. The front
curved face of the Back Iron acts as a Chip-breaker by curling and creating
cracks across the width of the shaving.
Polish the front edge of the Back Iron to help.
the nose of the Back Iron is flat across the width, especially where the
underside of the Lever Cap contacts the Back Iron. If there is a hollow, the Blade can distort
when the Lever Cap is tightened resulting in a lighter cut in the middle.
Even though you can
get great results from the above – it’s a good idea to make sure the Tote and
Knob are tight, file the mouth and treat the plane with a light clean.
points of Fettle:
These points will not
dramatically improve the performance like the Three Essentials but will make
the plane work a little better.
- Mouth - File the mouth at 70-80 degrees
sloping forward, down to 1mm from sole.
- Frog should be flat, especially across
the width in the lower section
- Lateral Adjuster – should be straight,
not too loose or too tight.
- Depth Adjusting Knob – should be free to
- Lever Cap
- Stanley (and all the other USA Plane
Makers) used their own non-standard threads. (Except for the Back Iron Screw which is
5/16 – 18 tpi). Australian Plane
makers such as Turner, Falcon and (I think) Carter used the same screw
sizes and threads. Front Tote
Screws (#4 ½ - #8)
from early Stanleys
were 7/32 – 20 tpi (#12-20) but later screws had a finer thread and the
early ones are not available any more.
However, the screws from a “Junker” Aussie will fit – as well as
the Frog Screws from Falcons which had a round head same as the Tote screw
– may be a bit longer but that is no problem to an enthusiast. Or, if you haven’t got a “junker” take a
new Stanley Frog screw, convert the “cheese” head to a round head, deepen
the slot and you have something very similar to the original. A rusty old “junker” is worth a few
dollars, (maybe up to 10), just for the screws which are often missing in other,
- Keep the Knob and Tote screws firmly
tight otherwise there are undue stresses on the wood which will crack. Align the grain of the Knob to the
length of the plane, not sideways – to lessen the risk of chips at the
- Don’t force the Plane. Don’t try to take too heavy cuts as this
puts undue stress at the mouth of the Plane and can cause cracks –
particularly so for Low-angle Block Planes,
- Keep the Irons sharp.
Same Bedrock #602 with Clean Up, Welded Cheek and change-over Tote and Knob
Jim Davey 2015