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One of the first things that many people notice when advancing the blade of a Preston/Record style shoulder plane (today’s Clifton and Lie Nielsen planes are based on that design) is a scratching noise or a grinding sensation when the nut turns inside the blade’s rectangular recess.

This is likely because of sharp edges or a micro burr on the corner of the recess. To smooth the corners and allow for an effortless turning of the nut, you can use a strip of sandpaper and gradually round over the recess’s corners. 

An untreated blade’s recess (top) and a recess whose corners are in the process of rounding over (bottom).

A diamond nail file or a fine needle file can also do the job. 

If the grinding sensation persists, try to smooth the inner wall of the recess since it might still be rough from the broaching process. Lastly, apply a drop of oil to the nut’s collar ring to lubricate the process. 

At that point, I gave the plane a test run but was unhappy to discover that I couldn’t bring the blade to protrude equally under the sole. This issue can be rectified by correct lateral adjustment, but unfortunately, the lateral blade movement was restricted by a few factors. 

The most challenging part of adjusting a shoulder plane’s blade is the lateral movement or the lack thereof. Whereas in a bench plane, the movement is governed by a leaver, and the blade can pivot from right to left relatively easily, in a shoulder plane, the blade is confined to a very limited pivoting parameter, which makes adjusting it a challenge. Some shoulder planes allow the blade a bit more space to move in, but many of the planes descended from the Preston/Record have a more restrictive structure that limits the lateral movement. 

Check the two videos below and notice how the blade’s lateral movement is very restricted on the right vs. the left side.

This choking up of the blade on one side is a problem as it can potentially prevent the plane from producing even thickness shaving. We can work around this issue by sharpening the blade at a skew angle, but I decided to correct that by:

  1. Creating more space for lateral movement by filling the inner cheeks of the plane.
  2. Clearing additional space for the blade by chamfering the bottom corners of the blade’s rectangular recess. That chamfering allowed the blade more room to pivot right and left. A needle file or a diamond file can really help chamfer the corners of the recess. 
  3. Narrowing the long neck of the blade.

    After discovering that the blade’s neck was hardened beyond my files’ capabilities, I filed it using a diamond paddle.

After filing the inner cheeks, the neck’s side, and chamfering the bottom corners, I was able to get the blade to protrude equally on both the right and the left sides of the sole. 

I then gave the plane a second test run and was happy to find out that it produced perfect thickness shaving.

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