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Comb. Planes


Restoring Planes: Metal and Wooden

  Installing Thick Iron in a Bedrock 608 by Kevin Foley  

Kevin Foley


When I picked up A Stanley Bedrock 608 on eBay it seemed perfect.  While shopping for a user I found this plane up for auction missing its iron and chipbreaker.  I intended to replace the standard iron and chipbreaker on whatever I found with items from Hock, so the missing parts were no problem.  I bid, and received the plane.  A quick inspection shows all is in order.  I got the Hock parts and due to time constraints, put all away for about six months.

I finally found some time and when I assembled the plane with new parts for the first time I found that the mouth is wide, very wide.  I moved the frog forward and it’s still wide.  Test passes on some walnut show lots of tearout.  I can’t believe I missed it - I should have seen the file marks in the japanning.  The mouth has been widened.  I realize I need to either apply shimstock to the frog or find a thick iron to close that mouth if I wish to use this plane.  I chose to try a thicker iron.


I e-mailed Hock Tools about the availability of thicker irons for Stanley planes.  Ron Hock replied that he doesn’t produce thicker irons for Stanley planes but he would be able to modify something in stock to suit.  He also generously informed me that the stock iron on a Lie-Nielsen No. 8 is very thick.  It turns out its 3/16” thick.  Nearly double the thickness of the standard Stanley iron and about right for closing the mouth on the 608.  I go with the L-N item.

Chipbreaker modification

The problem with using thick irons in Stanley bench planes is that the depth adjuster pawl extends through the iron and engages the adjuster slot in the chipbreaker.  If the iron is too thick, the pawl isn’t long enough to engage the chipbreaker and the iron assembly slides free.  The solution I choose is to peen steel stock onto the chipbreaker above and below the adjuster slot.

I chose stock 3/8” wide because these parts must fit inside the ½”slot in the iron with enough clearance to allow some angular adjustment of the chipbreaker to the iron. The thickness of the stock is 3/32”.  This approximates the difference in thickness between the stock iron and the thicker replacement.  It is important to go no thicker.  The lateral adjuster also uses this slot in the iron so parts made from thicker stock will interfere with the lateral adjustment of the iron and will keep the iron from seating properly on the frog. 

I cut the stock to length, drilled the parts and the chipbreaker and used 5/32” drill rod to peen them together.  I made the initial gap for the adjuster small – so initially the chipbreaker wouldn’t seat over the adjuster – then filed and tested repeatedly until the iron assembly seats and I got a snug fit on the adjuster pawl.

Plane sole modification

This is the part that hurts.  I’m a person that usually doesn’t like to even clean an old tool very much never mind take a file to it.  But the damage has already been done – the mouth has already been filed and it’s nowhere near straight.  The 3/16” thick iron is going to need a bit more clearance to give a useable range of adjustment for the mouth.  I apply Dykem blue and scribe a line for the new extent of the mouth.  Using advice from Kingshott’s book, I clamp the plane body in the vice with the sole vertical and mouth parallel to the floor and about elbow height. This always makes filing level, plumb and square much easier.


This done, I find the planes is a bit limited.

One drawback to this modification is that the parts added to the chipbreaker ride in the adjuster slot in the iron, limiting its travel.  I’ll never be able to use the last ½” of the iron. 

But let’s see, I’m pushing 50 and work wood every third Saturday if I’m lucky.  I won’t be using that last ½” of the iron but it’s got nothing to do with the chipbreaker.  Each person can do that math for himself.  Another drawback is that the thick iron plus the heavy-duty Hock chipbreaker makes a significantly thicker package than the original assembly. 

There are scant few threads of lever cap screw threading into the frog.  I believe the thread on this screw is special to Stanley planes so going to the hardware store to get a longer one isn’t a possibility.  If someone knows a source for a longer lever cap screw I would be pleased to know about it.

By the time I found the problems with this plane the trail as to who sold it to me was cold.  One option would have been to throw it back out on eBay with a full explanation of what was wrong with it and take the financial lumps. 

But I purchased this plane with hopes of having a good user and with a little work, and a little more cash, ended up with a very good user.  I don’t recommend that anyone do this procedure to improve the performance of a plane in good, unmodified condition but if someone has a plane with a similar problem it may be a way to put it back to use.

For those not familiar with Kingshott's book, it is not only a book of worthy projects, but a compendium of techniques for working metal precisely, mostly with handtools.  The editing flaws are many but the information contained within is great.

Kingshott, Jim., Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools., 1993. Sterling Publishing Company, New York.

Kevin Foley
April 2007

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