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.”
7 thoughts on “Adjusting H & R's”
Make a lot of sense! Do you think it would work with bench plane?? I’ll try!
Certainly it will work, but it is much more awkward. That’s why many wooden bench planes have a wooden "button" on the top of the body, near the toe. Hold onto the wedge and strike the button with a mallet to back out the iron. It beats hitting the heel with a metal hammer. Sorry for the pun.
I tap the end of the plane against the bench, instead of the top. Still works.
Most molding plane irons simply don’t have enough mass to overcome the holding of a properly fit wedge to enable using inertia to adjust the iron. That’s what tapping the body to adjust a plane iron does, use inertia.
There are times it’s most effective to first use a hollow, round, rabbet or other molding plane set a little rank and then to reset for fine finishing cuts. I don’t see where it’s much of an issue to release the iron for this resetting. If the wedge fits properly this shouldn’t require much effort and I see no reason to subject a plane body to the cumulative effects of grain compression failure by beating it with or on things.
Im totally new to blogging.
I very much agree, Loosening the iron and wedge for each adjustment is the way to go. Its very quick once you have used them for a while. Sometimes this can be a bear is if the the irons taper is not even. This is usually caused by a thicker area in the center of the tang from rust deposits, or whatnot. Once the taper has been corrected, the frustration will go away. Also, if the profile can not be adjusted without moving the side of the iron away from the mortise side wall. This will take more time as you will have to now make corrections in the profile from side to side. It all depends on a properly tuned plane iron. Thanks Dana,,,
Another option for adjusting these planes would be a Lignum Vitae hammer. I make these for use with my wood planes, and they work great, with very little marring of the plane body.
Another option for adjusting these planes would be a Lignum Vitae hammer. I make these for use with my wood planes, and they work great, with very little marring of the plane body. http://www.etsy.com/listing/46098292/lignum-vitae-hammermallet
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