I got a couple of hollows and rounds from a friend. They were made by Matt Bickford of M. S. Bickford Planes, and are sweet. Well except for one part of the plane. The back is showing some damage. I know it is customary to hit the back of the plane with a hammer to withdrawal the iron a tad. Just part of the adjusting method of this type of plane but I thought there has to be a better way. So I asked Matt Bickford who replied with the following
“I know of three ways to back the iron out and/or loosen the wedge.
1. Tap the iron all the way out and reset from the beginning. This is certainly not ideal for many reasons, but it works.
2. Tap the back of the plane with a hammer. It backs the iron out and/or loosens the wedge completely. This also is not ideal because you scar the back of plane as you know. You can definitely find examples of antiques like this around.
3. My favorite way: Hold the plane upside down with the toe facing away from you. Make sure you’re holding the wedge slightly with one hand. Slap the top of the plane in front of the wedge squarely against the top of your bench. A light tap will back the iron out and a sharp, abrupt smack will take the wedge out all together. If you hit it squarely you won’t mar the plane. Even if you miss square you won’t do much damage, if any.
This third way is very accurate. As you get better you’ll naturally start putting pressure on the wedge or iron sides to make it even more accurate. I even use this method sparingly on planes that I’m about to send out. You won’t hurt the plane. The only downside of this method is that the iron may not stay in place in the mortise. It may slide to to the side if you’re not careful, but you can overcome this.
I’ve included some pictures. Please let me know if this makes sense.”