Hand Tools Archive

Re: Romanillos on planes and breakers

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
I wasn't really aware there was much mystery to these blade/ cap iron adjustments a user might make to a plane, until messages about the subject started appearing in woodworking forums just a few years ago.

Hi Richard

We won't go there, suffice to note that for many/most of us the use of the chipbreaker to control tearout really only took off around 2012. Yes Warren, it was discussed here before that time, but serious discussion, and subsequent enlightenment, where most sat up and took notice, began with examination of the effects demonstrated by the Kato video (whether it was meant for that purpose or not).

Here's quite a good way of setting the cap iron close you might try. Sharpen the blade, attach the cap iron set back a few millimetres from the cutting edge, but leave the screw slightly loose, hold the blade and cap iron together vertically, rest the cutting edge of the blade on the wide face of a piece of wood on the bench, slide the cap iron down to touch the wood, tighten up the screw. If the setback isn't enough, push the blade into the wood a little harder before adjusting the cap iron and tightening it in place, or find a softer wood species on which to rest the cutting edge. You can also affect the setback by orientating the loosely assembled blade/ cap iron combination either with the grain or across the grain, especially in wood species with distinct differences in hardness between spring growth and summer growth.

Interesting method. Just goes to show that there are many ways to skin a cat. One tip published in Pop Wood was to use a feeler gauge. I just eyeball 0.4mm and use that for smoothing or jointing.

Richard, I am curious to know which make chipbreaker you use for this, or perhaps you do so with all chipbreakers? I suspect it is one of your infill planes, which are nice and stiff. My preference on the Bailey plane is for the Veritas chipbreaker over the Stanley chipbreaker, and the latter is rather flexible and apt to creep towards and over the blade when tightened.

As to the precise setback measurement this technique results in, I really can't say, but it does work for those times when 'close' is required.

Yes, I doubt that one can use a recipe here. I know that when we were examining the chipbreaker effect, there was a focus on looking at the number of fractions of a mm from the edge. I was one that did so in a couple of experiments. That is understandable when something is under the microscope - one tries to be as clinical as possible. However, once past the beginner stage, there is less a need for obsessional reliance on setting things "just so". There are so many variables that it is not possible. I included my comment earlier on Paul Sellers simply as an illustration of someone with a very different view to setting up and using a smoother (noting that his set up - chipbreaker set 2-3mm back - is what I might use for a jack plane).

Regards from Perth


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