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Last week I took my new Clifton No. 5 to teach a full-size toolchest class at The Woodworkers Club in Rockville, Md. Several of the students used it on their toolchests, which they made using cherry, pine or poplar.

The plane did quite well – the iron stayed sharp through planing up an entire case. As I mentioned in my entry on this plane last week, my only quibble was with the plane’s “Stay-Set” chipbreaker. The “Stay-Set” is a two-piece design that allows you to retain a chipbreaker setting during freehand sharpening.


The quibble was that the breaker shifted forward and back several thousandths of an inch. That’s irrelevant for most jack-plane work, but for a smoothing plane it can be important.

David Charlesworth (yes, despite reports to the contrary, David is alive and well) suggested a quick solution that I tried today. Using a small center punch on the main plate of the breaker, I deformed its slot slightly, tightening up the cap of the breaker so it did not move an iota.


It took three solid punches on either side to achieve the fit I wanted. On one side of the slot I went a little too far, so I used a needle file to reduce the slot to the proper width. In all, it took less than five minutes of work.

I also dug up one of the old Clifton “Stay-Set” breakers from 10 years ago that was in my bin of spares. That breaker had zero slop in its slot, so you should check your breaker before punching away.

More on this tool as I break it in.

— Christopher Schwarz

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  • deric

    It’s the 17th oldest trick in the book, and one you should never have to use on an expensive new tool. This tells me all I need to know about their quality.

  • Julio Alonso

    I know that fixing from Charlesworth when dealing with the front sliding piece of the sole in low angle planes with opening mouth adjust. To say a thought I don’t like Clifton planes.

  • BLZeebub

    I remember you writing about the sloppy fit in a previous post and was struck by that. I’ve been using
    Stay-Sets for years on most of my Stanleys, be they Bailey’s or BedRocks. All of mine are as tight as a tick. I certainly would have informed the vendor of the offense and allowed them to make it right. That said, you did what I’d have done too, FIX IT, and move on.

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