Setting the Blade
A sharp and properly shaped blade with a properly positioned chip breaker is the first step in getting your plane to cut beautifully. The second step is setting the cutting depth and mouth opening.
What initial adjustments should I make?
The mouth opening is set by moving the frog forwards or backwards to the desired opening. The instructions that came with the plane explain this in detail. It’s best to leave it open slightly wider, then close it up after the final blade adjustments have been made. After adjusting, be sure to re-secure the frog with the locking knob and screw.
The lever cap screw should be snug enough but not overtightened. A quarter turn after full engagement is plenty. Never torque it down; this may damage the plane.
The side alignment screws facilitate centering the blade in the mouth and prevent the blade from shifting in use. They are initially adjusted so both screws just touch the blade, then backed off ever so slightly.
How do I set the cutting depth?
There are a couple of methods for setting the blade; try them both and see which works for you. Each begins with the cutting edge retracted just below the sole.
Method #1: Sight down the sole, either from the front or the rear. Slowly advance the blade until the cutting edge just begins to emerge. Ensure that it’s parallel to the sole by pivoting the blade adjuster. Take a test cut and assess the results. Advance or retract the blade and make lateral adjustments as needed. Continue the process until you achieve an even shaving of the desired thickness.
Method #2: Instead of sighting the blade, this approach uses a small scrap of wood (approximately 1/8" × 1" × 2" to 3") to test the cutting edge as it emerges. Run the scrap wood past the cutting edge at both corners of the blade. If the blade doesn’t take a shaving, advance it slightly and try again.
The initial goal is to ensure the cutting edge is parallel to the sole; make lateral adjustments until both shavings are the same thickness. You can then focus on setting the blade projection for the desired depth of cut. Alternatively, you can use a larger piece of wood held in a vise.
With a sharp, properly adjusted plane, you should be well on the way to producing smooth, crisp surfaces.
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