Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do You Feel What I Am Saying?

This is NOT what I do

Here's a quick tip:

When setting the depth of cut on your bench plane irons, a number of folks recommend sighting down the sole to eyeball the protruding edge. People especially like this with metal bodied planes with the adjusting knob. In my experience I have found this difficult to do with an degree of accuracy. The way I was trained (even on metal bodied planes) was to rely on touch rather than sight. I was taught to use the gentle brushing of two fingers to feel the set iron depth. You can even easily tell if the iron is skewed. I find this gives much more feedback than my eye. Quick, simple, and easy to do in the low lighting of period shops. Give it try.

THIS is what I do.

Let know what you think. Have you tried this method?


  1. I find myself using my fingers more and more to do this as my eyesight doesn't always see the protrusion that clearly anymore.

  2. I use my thumb. And I just hold the plane in normal position, that is with the iron down, I think that if I cannot see what I'm touching, my fingers are more sensitive.

  3. I've always used my fingers, too. I can feel differences that can't be seen.

  4. I use my fingers to gauge depth and skew of the blade as well but I generally use a somewhat different technique. Typically, I hold the plane with two hands just behind the iron and then gently run my index fingers back across the mouth and blade. Larger planes can be a bit tippy when you hold them this way, so in those cases I set the heel of the plane on my bench while I feel the iron.

    I still sometimes sight down the plane but not very often.

  5. I generally start by eye to take out the gross adjusting and then quickly use a bar of wax or a small piece of scrap to get the blade set perfect. When I need it set perfect.

  6. Good thoughts, guys! Thanks for sharing your methods.