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.
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
This done, I find the planes is a bit limited.
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.
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.
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
Kingshott, Jim., Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools., 1993. Sterling
Publishing Company, New York.