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Hi all. I'm new to the forum, and having fun reading through various posts - what a great resource. I recently dug into the wallet and purchased a new Stanley Sweetheart #4 smoothing plane. I love it so far, but I have a couple of questions.

First, the Norris-type blade adjustment knob for depth seems to have some play in it and I'm wondering if that is normal. After I turn the screw one direction to increase or decrease the depth of cut, it takes a few (loose) turns in the other direction before it grabs and starts to make the reverse adjustment. Does that seem right?

Second, the instructions say to loosen the lever cap knob before adjusting the depth knob (this plane tightens the cap with a knob rather than an actual lever). I'm wondering if that is necessary. I hate to have to adjust two knobs every time I want to change the depth of cut a tiny bit. Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Kris
 

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The backlash in the adjusting screw is quite normal. That is a "feature" of screws and nuts. Just make sure that you always take up the slack in the extend direction when you finish your adjustment. Then the iron can't retract as you use the plane. You need only to loosen the cap screw enough so that you are not forcing the adjustment. The movement should be somewhat smooth. The trick that you will learn is to loosen enough, but not so much that you mess up your lateral adjustment. I have only recently purchased planes with Norris adjustment, so I am also still learning.
 

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I hate to have to adjust two knobs every time I want to change the depth of cut a tiny bit. Any thoughts?
The backlash is in the entire adjustment mechanism. The adjustment screw, the Y lever, the hole in the cap iron, etc. All contribute to backlash.

As Wrangler stated, you have to compensate. It is in the design of the typical bench plane.

If I recall Leonard Bailey had a design which had no backlash, but these are hard to find.

If you have new to hand planes and the prospect of needing to adjust two knobs is foreboding, perhaps hand planes are not for you.

I rarely adjust the depth of the blade in my hand planes, so if I have to adjust one or two knobs, I would not find this to be a problem.

I have a number of planes with the Norris style adjuster. I do not over tighten the cap iron lever and do not have a problem adjusting the depth without removing the pressure on the cap iron.
 

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Get some scrap wood and a couple of books on working with planes, watch some youtube videos, and practise, practise, practise. You can do amazing work with a properly sharpened plane.
 
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