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Stanley #50: tells terrible jokes & sozzled at parties...

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Eric The Viking

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[persevere - there is a question near the bottom!]

You know how you really want to like someone, but they have odd "social" problems?

My Stanley #50 combi plane is one such - we get on famously together for a few minutes, then it all starts to get really awkward. I think it's getting p*ssed, probably at me, but I'm not sure.

Last time was reeding: "I have those nice beading cutters", thinks I, "they ought to let me do decorative beads in a surface, and with care I could do a couple of parallel beads together." What an silly person...

... So I prep some close-grained hardwood stock carefully and, observing all the rituals of Saint Royston of Underhill, start at the far end with a sharp cutter properly set and determination. Ten minutes later I have flat-topped* beads in random locations and directions across the stock, scrape marks everywhere, and several extra-brown places where my fingers have been leaking. And that's only the top surface: experienced woodworkers know that any experimental piece has FOUR sides, giving far more room for cock-ups.

By the time I retire indoors for a strong coffee (and surgical dressings), it looks like square-ish brown celery (or possibly giant hogweed would be more apt). And there's a shiny curved bit in the middle of the plane that looks like it's actually smiling at you, crookedly. So it can certainly empty a room (er, the garage) in under a half-hour.

This time I intend something simpler: I'm using up spare artificial slates as "walling" to corral the mint that's just now reappearing in the veg plot. They need to be tapped edge-on into the bed along the side of our concrete path, and as they're about 5mm thick, some softwood knocking blocks with a 1/4" groove in them would let me thump them in without doing too much damage to them.

Well the #50 set includes a 1/4" cutter (Oh goody!), and i can put a razor edge on it with ease. What I cannot do, it seems, is make a neat groove of any width or depth. Roy must have sacrificed several goats off-camera I think, as he never seemed to have this much trouble.

I do get there in the end, sufficiently so to use my test piece for clobbering slates, but again, it isn't pretty. This time, the biggest issue is keeping the cutter set to take a small bite. I don't mean shavings you can read the paper through, or anything like that, just getting it to stay put and not shift about with the pressure of the cut. There's a lever ("C" in the diagram**) for depth of cut adjustment, but it is _very_ difficult to use, and might as well be on ball bearings, since the cutter still seems to slide up and down like a tiny periscope.

THE QUESTION: What do other people do to make this a useful adjuster? It pivots on a tiny screw, and I don't think I can tighten it up enough to improve matters without stripping either the thread or the screwdriver slot. I could add a small washer, but it might make no difference.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm forever fiddling with the adjuster on Bailey style planes, at least until I get settled on a practical depth of cut, and it seems with the #50, doing it just by eye (eyeballing the cutter protrusion below the skates), is nowhere near good enough. It's either skimming the surface or headed for Australia it seems.

The voice of experience would be welcome at this point...

Many thanks, E.

*that would be not to depth, even though I reached the depth stop, apparently.
**no I'm not posting the "helpful" diagram from the instructions. Anyway they say this about item "C":
"The Stanley Combination Plane has a handy Cutter Adjustment [sic], conveniently located, to obtain the proper depth of cut."
Apparently the words 'handy' and 'proper' had quite different meanings in the 1960s when my plane was made... and of course nothing about the diagram actually IS helpful.
 

AndyT

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In normal times, I'd be happy to pop round and help.
In these strange times, we could perhaps try a video call?
 

AndyT

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Meanwhile, a few things to consider.

If your plane is like the one that Nigel linked to, you need to slacken the screw on the pivoting clamp a bit first. Then adjust with the screw that fits into the grooves. To eliminate backlash, wind the cutter up a bit first, then bring it back down so enough edge is showing. Then tighten the clamp before making the groove.

Grain direction and stock selection make a big difference. Do try and choose a piece where you will be planing downhill. An initial swipe with a bench plane will confirm this.
 

Eric The Viking

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Thanks both.

@Nigel: thanks I had a look at the question and Paul's kind answers, but it doesn't seem to address my issues. the one in Paul's picture has a screw cutter adjuster, which is a far better bet than this awkward lever - loose enough to adjust and the cutter slips, any tighter and you can't adjust it.

@Andy T: I've checked that both skates are parallel (v. fiddly to set up!); the cutter protrudes each side very slightly (as intended, I think).

I must confess I only eyeballed fence parallelism, but I think it's pretty good. I had the depth stop fully retracted to get a groove of around 3/8" and could plane down to that depth.

And yup: I was both going backwards (starting at the far end and working back to me with each fresh stroke), and planing with the grain, as I would do with any other molding plane type.

There is a lot of friction, which I suppose is understandable, given the big area of the bottoms and sides of the skates, and the fence (it doesn't let you add a wooden sub-fence to the steel one). Candle wax definitely helps though.

When trying simple ploughing, it's not really stepping over, and I've met this with shoulder planes , so I know about sharp cutter corners properly set. The corners might have been the issue with the beading cutter I was using though - I might have been concentrating too much on the edge around the ellipse when I was sharpening, and not enough on the "chisels" either side.

The big issue is that the cutter seems to be horrible to adjust - either not cutting at all or digging-in. I just can't find a sweet spot.

E.

PS: Thanks for the video idea - might be cool, although I need to rig WiFi to the garage (I do have ethernet out there tho).
 

MikeG.

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Eric The Viking":3lah3cvg said:
.......The big issue is that the cutter seems to be horrible to adjust - either not cutting at all or digging-in. I just can't find a sweet spot.........
Yep, I've got the same plane, and just touching the adjustment lever is enough to send it from too-shallow to too-deep. Or vice versa. A screw adjuster would be much better.
 

HappyHacker

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What a coincidence. Today I have been struggling to get my 50 to do a 3/16 groove. I did not manage to spring any leaks but the groove while reasonably straight was a bit wider than it should have been and appeared to be at a slight angle and was messy along each top edge. Good enough for what I wanted but not to a reasonable standard.

My lever adjuster has a nut on the back allowing it to be tightened. I found this after the finishing, having adjusted the blade depth every few inches of cut. Also everything worked loose and needed tightening quite often. I think the holes in the ends of the fence bars are to enable them to be tightened more than finger tight and a screwdriver on the depth adjuster fixing screw was essential.

I thought I knew how to use one but it has been many years since I have touched one and I have had to go through the learning curve again and I am not sure I am there yet.
 

AndyT

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It may not be much help, but the Record 050 version has a much better screw adjuster.
I've got one of those but I've never bothered getting the Stanley version.
 

AndyT

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Ok, I'll try and be a bit more helpful, applying my experience of similar planes that work properly... here's some more guesswork.

I am sure that you are doing all you can to lock up the cutter in the right position so it won't actually slip - using the big wingnut. And accept that you'll need to slacken that off, then adjust the cut, then tighten it up again. I don't think you'll find a sweet spot like you can on a bench plane where the cutter is held in the right position but can be adjusted on the fly.

Have you checked that the bottom edge of the skate is straight? Take the cutter out and rest the plane on a known flat surface or apply a straight edge. If the front and rear sections don't line up, file or abrade them until they do. This is the plough plane equivalent of flattening the sole - it shouldn't be necessary but once in a blue moon, it is. As you move the plane along, at first, the front of the skate controls the cut, but later the rear part joins in. If they don't match, you get a sudden transition, and the right setting for one half is wrong for the other.

Do you get better or worse results with a very narrow (1/8") cutter, just the main body and the big holding screw J, compared to a wider cutter, the main body, and the sliding section B?
 

Eric The Viking

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Have you checked that the bottom edge of the skate is straight? Take the cutter out and rest the plane on a known flat surface or apply a straight edge. If the front and rear sections don't line up, file or abrade them until they do. This is the plough plane equivalent of flattening the sole - it shouldn't be necessary but once in a blue moon, it is. As you move the plane along, at first, the front of the skate controls the cut, but later the rear part joins in. If they don't match, you get a sudden transition, and the right setting for one half is wrong for the other.
That's a really good point, analogous to snipe on a thicknesser. It was previously owned by father-in-law and not fettled at all. It's so long since I fettled a Bailey-style plane I'd forgotten about the "sole" in this context - it would make a really big difference if the two ends are out WRT each other, and/or the sliding piece too. I'll have a look as soon as I am able, but have to start the cooking before the Domestic Controller gets home.

Thanks, E.
(today has mostly been trying to beat Samba's smb.conf file with a view to actually making it work - now that's a _really_ futile exercise!).
 

Vann

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Alf had a very good site for these planes. See if you can still fine cornish-workshop and then look for "boat anchors ahoy" IIRC.

I have an early Stanley 50 (pre-adjuster) and the Record 050, 044 and 043. The only one I ever use is the 043 - which doesn't have an adjuster.

I've used that style of adjuster on the 78 duplex rebate plane, and found it to be a pig. Would it work to remove/bypass the 50 adjuster and try using it set by tapping and clamping?

Cheers Vann.
 

Eric The Viking

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Vann":w3c6z85g said:
Alf had a very good site for these planes. See if you can still fine cornish-workshop and then look for "boat anchors ahoy" IIRC.
Indeed she did. We miss her here.

I've used that style of adjuster on the 78 duplex rebate plane, and found it to be a pig. Would it work to remove/bypass the 50 adjuster and try using it set by tapping and clamping?

Cheers Vann.
It's a good idea, but...

I can't get to it for a few days now - many DIY priorities here first as at last we are in a dry spell - but I'll take Andy's advice first, and check the skates for linearity and smoothness. I know already that the sides of the skates are rather roughly machined, but as they are plated they will be difficult to smooth, without making matters a lot worse. So that will be down to candle wax in use, I think.

I was using some diamond burrs in the Proxxon yesterday on a quite different task, for the first time in ages, and realised I have them in tiny sizes too. because they rotate, I ought to be able to roughen the bottoms of the two grooves (main body and sliding section) that take the irons. Similar treatment to the sides of the cutters (at least the most used ones - 1/4", 3/8" probably), might mean I can increase the mechanical friction.

It's all very well the instructions saying "loosen the wing nut, adjust the cutter and re-tighten the nut" but that throws off the parallelism of the skates (and that takes an age to set up!).

I'll also see if I can find a screwdriver to dedicate to the adjustment screws, as the depth gauge ("foot") in particular is hard to keep locked in one place. The cutter retaining screw for very narrow cutters doesn't actually have any slot so is very hard to tighten! This also mitigates against removing the adjuster permanently, but I'll give it a try if all else fails (have suitable hammer, I think).

I'll also go through my imperial bolts, in case I can find something suitable with a hex head or (better) an Allen head. I'm hoping the thread pitch is UNF or BA (possibly the former), and not one of the esoteric "plane threads".

Thanks everyone - those were really helpful ideas.

E.

PS: I did find a link to Alf's old site but it's 404-ing now. Here it is on the Wayback Machine
 

Vann

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Eric The Viking":34u7kccj said:
...I'm hoping the thread pitch is UNF or BA (possibly the former), and not one of the esoteric "plane threads"...
I think Stanley UK used more conventional threads on their non-bench planes. I think maybe BSF and BSW. Mind you, those are odd threads now too.

Cheers, Vann.
 

Woody2Shoes

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This thread made me get my old Record 050 out. One tip I'd forgotten is that the sides of the cutter need to be relieved ie the cutter should trapezoidal in cross-section. Certainly worth checking in case fil did something to modify it. +1 for the hammer tap adjust idea too.
 

HappyHacker

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I tried again yesterday with a slightly wider cutter which used the skate on the side to clamp the cutter. I also was now cutting a decent piece of beech, part of a electric bed I dismantled, which was far better than the rubbish pine I was using before.

The difference was chalk and cheese.

https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/download/file.php?mode=view&id=85516&sid=6b1276b94200509cb46e9e2fe3eaad74
 

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