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Handplane Performance Tuning #4: Frog / Lever Cap

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Blog entry by OSU55 posted 02-03-2014 03:46 PM 1167 reads 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Chip Breakers & Cap Irons Part 4 of Handplane Performance Tuning series Part 5: Schwarz On Honing - Guides vs Freehand »

The lever cap, chip breaker, blade, frog, and main casting all need to be held together well to act more or less as a single mass. Major sources of chatter are the frog not seated to the bed well, and the blade not seated on the frog well:
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. • The blade needs to seat flat against the lower 1/3rd of the frog
. • The frog needs to seat well into the main bed
. • The chip breaker needs to seat well to the blade
. • The lever cap needs to seat well to the top of the chip breaker
.

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Frog
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It is not difficult to get the lower 1/3rd of the frog very flat, so strive for 90% contact. I use a file initially, stroking in all directions to create a flatter surface. I then use sandpaper on glass to flatten and smooth further. In the pictures below I’ve used red layout fluid to enhance contrast. Magic marker works well too.
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Here is the blade seating area with just a few file passes. The center portion of the frog is high.

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Blade seating area after file work. Notice the top of the seating are is untouched. Only the lower 1/3 needs to be flat. In this case, a good 90% of the whole surface is flat – it just worked out that way.

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Blade seating area after a few passes on P120 sandpaper on glass. Picture is a bit fuzzy, but all is very flat and smooth now.

The better the frog seats into the plane bed the better to resist vibration and distortion when tightening everything up and in use. Below is a picture of the frog bottom at the start. I rubbed the frog on the plane bed support points. The small areas of contact show up faintly in the picture.

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Here they are after a few minutes work with a file

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To get the best frog seating, the frog should be lapped to the bed. I use automotive valve grinding compound, available for ~$4 at parts stores. Just place some on the pad areas and move the frog around over the areas. It only takes a few minutes to get the parts lapped together. All the pad surfaces were covered with layout fluid before lapping. The frog is upside down at the bottom of the picture.

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Lever Cap
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It’s debatable how much flattening the seating area of the lever cap helps, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and is quick and easy to do. If you have dressed the top and bottom of the chip breaker as described previously, and have issues with chips getting under the chip breaker or maybe some vibration, this is worth trying. Here is a cap with a few light file passes. You can see there’s not much contact.

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Here is the same cap after a few minutes work with a file and a few passes on P120 sandpaper.

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If you follow the performance tuning tips presented through this blog, you will be able to get just about any old plane to work pretty well. Make sure nothing is cracked and no bolt holes are stripped. Thanks for taking the time to read this series, and good luck!



2 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5194 posts in 1297 days


#1 posted 02-03-2014 04:47 PM

Great blog.

View smitty22's profile

smitty22

622 posts in 1667 days


#2 posted 06-18-2014 04:38 AM

Keep it coming, great information very clearly presented.
thanks!

-- Smitty

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