Setting A Cap Iron

Most amateur woodworkers understand that the cap iron (also referred to as a chipbreaker) on their bench plane is supposed to do something close to what its name implies – break shavings before they become tearout – but until recently, few understood how the cap iron actually works with the cutting edge, or how close to the edge of the cutting iron it must be set to have a beneficial effect. I have a stone and a honing guide but the honing guide isn’t a particularly great one; as it has a narrow roller on the underside which makes it easy to wobble; so have ordered the Stanley honing guide set, as it has an angle guide, and theres a bottle of oil and a stone; i think my stone has a slight dip in it and i have had to use the edge of the stone but the honing guide does not hold the chisel very flat, theres a slight angle in the way it sits in the guide.

Bevel Up vs. Bevel Down – All planes fall into one of two categories – Bevel Down and Bevel Up. Bevel down planes have irons that are situated with the bevel angle facing down, while the irons on bevel up planes are positioned with the bevel angle facing up. Most bench planes are bevel down while most block planes are bevel up. Specialty planes can go either way, depending on their intended purpose.

The earliest known examples of the woodworking plane have been found in Pompeii although other Roman examples have been unearthed in Britain and Germany The Roman planes resemble modern planes in essential function, most having iron wrapping a wooden core top, bottom, front and rear and an iron blade secured with a wedge One example found in Cologne has a body made entirely of bronze without a wooden core.


Block planes are characterized by the absence of a chipbreaker and the cutting iron bedded with the bevel up. The block plane is usually a smaller tool that can be held with one hand and is used for general purpose work such as taking down a knot in the wood, smoothing small pieces, chamfering edges, and making the end of a sawed board square and smooth.

However, the patent drawing for the change shows what I believe is the real reason for the change – the circular disk, on the lower end of the lateral adjustment lever, loses its ability to engage the slot provided for it (in the cutter) when the iron is nearly used up. By relocating the circular hole toward the bottom of the cutter, the iron can be used right up to the slot, without sacrificing the advantage gained from the lateral adjustment lever.

A new reproduction blade set for the stanley #66 hand beeder 8 cutters never made by stanley NO ROUTER BLADE with this set. Confirming Andrew’s comments; when I did a school excursion through the Stanley Titan facory at New Town, a suburb of Hobart, Tasmania I saw laminated plane blades still being made in the mid-1960’s. The frog is screwed down to the inside of the sole through two parallel slots and on many planes is only adjustable with a screwdriver when the plane iron is removed. I’ve been lucky enough to have had laminated Stanley and Record blades,though I didn’t realise how lucky at the time. Specify blade width, plane model number, type, describe in detail, markings User grade.

On 2/8/2011 Joel at Tools for Working Wood posted a funny story on his blog about trying to use a thicker iron in an old Stanley. The iron is held into the plane with a wooden wedge, and is adjusted by striking the plane with a hammer. I replaced the T-5’s original blade with a Veritas A2 blades because the plane is for shooting board use. As for my newer #151, the iron was too wide, and I had to carefully file down both sides with a very thin file to get it to fit.

If all you want to know is what bevel angle to sharpen on your plane iron, make it 25º and call it a day. For this test, I had to do both, painstakingly reflattening and sharpening my old irons for hours to provide a fair basis of comparison. Mid range hardened -1 steel breaker stays stiff to deliver stabilizing lever cap pressure to the cutting edge.