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Thread: How do you adjust a plane's lever cap

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Bellevue, WA

    Question How do you adjust a plane's lever cap

    I've got 3 planes (a Stanely low angle block plane, new; a Stanely No. 5, English farily new, but used, and a Merit No. 4, used in fair condition). I've followed several guides on reconditioning and tuning the No. 4 & 5, sharpened the irons using the scary sharp method assisted with a Veritas Mk II honing guide.

    I am getting, what seem to me at least, good planning on softwoods and a bit of red oak with these planes.

    My question is - What is the correct set up, or tightness for the lever cap. Right now the No. 5's lever cap seems a bit loose. It will shift at times when changing/adjusting the iron. The No. 4's lever cap seems too tight, making it hard to adjust the iron. Is this just a trial and error process or is there a right tension that can be set by more than a 'lets try this' approach.

    Last edited by Richard Line; 05-13-2008 at 07:31 PM. Reason: add signature

  2. #2

    Tighten enough so there is no movement in the blade while planing.

    There is no torque specs on adjusting the screw or lever cap. It's more of a feel, and trial/error set up.

    After practicing a few times using the planes, it will just feel natural when everything goes well, and you will be able to tell the difference immediately.

    To give you a specific torque that I cannot do, so..... Try "Firm", not loose, and definitely not tight.

    I hope I could help somewhat without confusion.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Have a look at Ron Hock's video on sharpening, he give a fair description in how tight it should be.

    As far as I'm concerned I set it so that I can lift the lever cap with my index and thumb fingers without too much effort or leaving my nails on it.
    On a secon plane I have, I have always to close the lever cap and the tighten the screw 1/4 of a turn. If I do it before I can't close the lever so...
    Best regards,

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    keep in mind that you should be able to fully adjust your cutting irons - depth and lateral adjustments - without loosening the lever cap. It's very easy and tempting at first to tighten the thing up too much. The problem is that the lever cap can over stress the other parts of the plane. That's probably not much of a problem until the plane encounters some sort of shock or stress during use. Hitting a knot, dropping onto the bench or floor, or just working a particularly difficult grain can then cause other problems such as cracking or chipping of the plane's parts. Those most susceptible are the sole casting on the back edge of the throat, the cheeks, the frog, or the leading edge of the lever cap. Also, when it's too tight, it puts undo stress on the plane's smaller, more delicate parts, such as the depth adjustment yoke.
    When in doubt, i start with what i think might be a bit too loose, tightening it if necessary just enough to hold the cutting iron fast during use.
    Probably more than half of the old planes i've seen with broken or cracked parts have overtightening of the lever cap to blame for the damage.
    Have fun with them.
    Paul Hubbman

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Bellevue, WA
    Thanks for all of your responses. They now give me a good feel for this adjustment. Now I just need to play around with it until I've got that good feel this adjustment.


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