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Thread: Lapping frog faces on Bailey planes

  1. #1

    Lapping frog faces on Bailey planes

    Chris Schwarz recently posted 2-part series on tuning up jack planes on the Lost Art Press blog in which he mentions lapping the face of the frog without removing the lateral adjuster or the depth adjuster. I've seen people lap frog faces on youtube this way (Rex Krueger, among others, has a video where he does this), and have even tried it myself, twice. Once on a type-19 Stanley #6, and again on a Millers Falls #14, these are both regular users for me. Subjectively speaking, I'm not sure it made much difference, the type-19 was not really prone to chatter anyway, and the MF #14 still chatters with a thick shaving (admittedly the chatter could be caused by some other problem).

    I'm also pretty sure you can't actually get the frog face perfectly flat this way. The way some of these frogs were milled, you can certainly achieve a flatter surface, but I don't think you can get the whole frog face in a perfect plane.

    So what's the consensus? Is it worth it to lap your frogs without removing the adjustment hardware and just work around it? Or are you better off going through the extra step of punching out the pins for the lateral adjuster and depth adjuster?

    As an aside, I really don't get all the negative talk about the type-19 as users, mine is solid, precise, has a very fine mouth, and is actually less likely to chatter than my MF planes. Maybe I got lucky?

  2. #2
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    Laurent, the idea is to ensure that the face of the frog is flat, or at least does not have any raised areas which prevent the blade from registering fully.

    What you can do is cover the face with a magic marker, and then use a file to determine if there are raised areas. Use the file to remove them.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  3. #3
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    Millers Falls frog are a little different than other frogs out there....There is a big flat area then a "notch area" then the top 3rd of the frog matches the lower third...by design. Usually, I just give the high spots a ride on the beltsander ( held in the vise by it's top handle) LIGHTLY.....Usually because of thick paint that needs removed. I remove the adjuster wheel...and that's it. The yoke can lay down enough to get missed by the sander....and I can rotate the frog around to miss the washer of the lateral lever....I also "buzz" the mating surfaces where the frog meets the base. Again, usually to remove the thick paint.

    As for chatter in a M-F plane? Never had any. Face of the frog MUST be co-planar with the ramp that comes up behind the open of the mouth.....move the frog forward to close the mouth...end of the iron looses the support it needs from that ramp....and will vibrate...simple as that.

    Test the flatness of the frog first, before any milling is done....sometimes it is more the irons fault. IF the iron is rocking on the frog....check the iron first....
    Defiance No. 3, clean up 4.JPG
    Even a Cheap Stanley Defiance frog...
    Stanley #3 rehab, frog 1.JPG
    What I usually find when a plane comes into the shop...
    Stanley #3 rehab, frog set up.JPG
    And after....Stanley No. 3, type 11.
    Frog seat?
    Stanley No.6, S markings.JPG
    This is frog a Stanley No. 6, type 7...
    Stanley No. 6, frog installed.JPG
    Cleaned up, nicely....
    Stanley #3 rehab, shavings 1.JPG
    YMMV
    Last edited by steven c newman; 11-24-2019 at 12:49 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Marshall View Post
    Chris Schwarz recently posted 2-part series on tuning up jack planes on the Lost Art Press blog in which he mentions lapping the face of the frog without removing the lateral adjuster or the depth adjuster. I've seen people lap frog faces on youtube this way (Rex Krueger, among others, has a video where he does this), and have even tried it myself, twice. Once on a type-19 Stanley #6, and again on a Millers Falls #14, these are both regular users for me. Subjectively speaking, I'm not sure it made much difference, the type-19 was not really prone to chatter anyway, and the MF #14 still chatters with a thick shaving (admittedly the chatter could be caused by some other problem).

    I'm also pretty sure you can't actually get the frog face perfectly flat this way. The way some of these frogs were milled, you can certainly achieve a flatter surface, but I don't think you can get the whole frog face in a perfect plane.

    So what's the consensus? Is it worth it to lap your frogs without removing the adjustment hardware and just work around it? Or are you better off going through the extra step of punching out the pins for the lateral adjuster and depth adjuster?

    As an aside, I really don't get all the negative talk about the type-19 as users, mine is solid, precise, has a very fine mouth, and is actually less likely to chatter than my MF planes. Maybe I got lucky?

    Don't lap the frog. If you find that the frog is twisted then file the high spots down very carefully. Trying to lap the frogs stands as good a chance of inducing problems as it does in solving them. Any work done on the metal parts of a hand plane ostensibly to bring them into truth is no different than what you do to a board -- find the high spots and reduce them to the lowest low spot. Lapping may or may not accomplish that goal. If after filing the frog has been brought into truth, then a minute or two lapping on a flat surface will smooth the file marks and tidy things up a bit but don't go farther than that - a minute or so. That's it.
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 11-25-2019 at 6:14 AM.

  5. #5
    Sometimes I think people go out of their way to make plane maintenance more mystifying than it really is and then try to demystify it for people. A plane isn't a complicated machine. The frog surface just needs to be flat to support the blade without any high spots. For the most part the factory takes care of the flat part, generally all a user needs to do when tuning up a plane or restoring a neglected one is put some sandpaper on a flat surface an rub until the metal is clean. The less time the better, as you are apt to start rounding things. The factory used a milling machine that weighted a couple tons, your arm is no comparison for accuracy or rigidity. This isn't an operation that needs to be done on surface plate with lapping compound. If you are gentle, you can do it with a file like Derek (and I) do it.

    Stanley 19s can be just fine. I have a couple that are go-to planes. Are they as finely wrought as some of the vaunted works of art of the glory years? Maybe not, but are they perfectly adequate for what they were designed to do, yes.

    Rant over

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Marshall View Post
    Chris Schwarz recently posted 2-part series on tuning up jack planes on the Lost Art Press blog in which he mentions lapping the face of the frog without removing the lateral adjuster or the depth adjuster. I've seen people lap frog faces on youtube this way (Rex Krueger, among others, has a video where he does this), and have even tried it myself, twice. Once on a type-19 Stanley #6, and again on a Millers Falls #14, these are both regular users for me. Subjectively speaking, I'm not sure it made much difference, the type-19 was not really prone to chatter anyway, and the MF #14 still chatters with a thick shaving (admittedly the chatter could be caused by some other problem).

    I'm also pretty sure you can't actually get the frog face perfectly flat this way. The way some of these frogs were milled, you can certainly achieve a flatter surface, but I don't think you can get the whole frog face in a perfect plane.

    So what's the consensus? Is it worth it to lap your frogs without removing the adjustment hardware and just work around it? Or are you better off going through the extra step of punching out the pins for the lateral adjuster and depth adjuster?

    As an aside, I really don't get all the negative talk about the type-19 as users, mine is solid, precise, has a very fine mouth, and is actually less likely to chatter than my MF planes. Maybe I got lucky?
    My only reason for lapping a frog's face or the sole of a plane is if it is causing a demonstrable problem.

    On your MF #14 there are a few possibilities. My first step would be to make sure the blade is as sharp as possible. Then if a thick shaving is to be taken, set the chip breaker back to maybe 1/32". Thick shavings with a closer set chip breaker tend to do odd things or jam.

    Another possibility is with thick shavings on some woods a plane produces a zipper effect. (my name for it) The blade engages, cuts stops for a millisecond and then engages again only to repeat this. The shaving and surface will have horizontal hills and valleys. It makes a buzzing sound (like a zipper) as the shaving is made. Take a lesser shaving and this should stop. If this happens with even a light shaving, then something else is likely causing the problem. Also what one user considers a heavy shaving may be different than what another might consider as being a thick shaving.

    Look to see if the blade is setting flat on the face of the frog. Hold the plane up to the light, can light be seen between the frog and the blade? This can be caused by the cap iron bending the blade.

    Steven mentioned having the frog far enough back to allow the blade to be supported by the back of the mouth. If the frog is too far back, it can cause the blade to bow a little and cause chatter.

    Is the frog seating solidly on its mounting to the sole?

    As to "all the negative talk about the type-19 as users," some are very good users, some are dogs. Compared to previous types where there were very few dogs and almost all good and even great users planes.

    By reading through the type studies one can see a lot of reasons why many Stanley/Bailey users prefer models from the earlier years. From 1874 to 1902 the major changes were the addition of a lateral adjuster and the changing of the depth adjuster threads to left handed from right handed.

    In 1902 (type 9) there was a change to the casting to improve the yield from the foundry. This necessitated a change to the frog mounting. It was a change that improved the cost of manufacture and improved the user experience at the same time. Variations on this continued with improvements, frog adjustment added in 1907, to the plane which also improved usability. The period from 1907 to about 1932 is considered the 'Golden ERA' of Stanley/Bailey plane production.

    In 1933 the frog style was changed to reduce production costs. For some this style of frog is fine. All of the frogs that have given me problems were of this style.

    Many people say when purchasing from online auction sites you are taking a risk. My advice is to not purchase planes made after 1933 to avoid some of the risk taking.

    After WWII the world was changing, more power tools, less people working wood for a living. Stanley and other makers had difficulties developing new markets. One thing the could do was to cut costs. This is the ERA of American woodworking tool production many see as the race to the bottom.

    The type 19 may actually be the last type before cost cutting overwhelmed the manufacturing mission.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
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    I prefer the early 5-1/4 four square over the type 19 5-1/4 .....

    If there are high points I prefer a scraper over a file. (www.amazon.com/Innovative-Tools-International-Super-Scraper/dp/B00005A9T1)

    I adjust the frog so it sits flush with the back of the mouth and do not touch it afterwards. I adjust the chipbreaker from the edge of the blade as conditions require.

    FWIW Record planes kept their quality longer up than Stanley, got a 1960's #4 that is a charm to use as a smoother.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    My only reason for lapping a frog's face or the sole of a plane is if it is causing a demonstrable problem.

    On your MF #14 there are a few possibilities. My first step would be to make sure the blade is as sharp as possible. Then if a thick shaving is to be taken, set the chip breaker back to maybe 1/32". Thick shavings with a closer set chip breaker tend to do odd things or jam.

    Another possibility is with thick shavings on some woods a plane produces a zipper effect. (my name for it) The blade engages, cuts stops for a millisecond and then engages again only to repeat this. The shaving and surface will have horizontal hills and valleys. It makes a buzzing sound (like a zipper) as the shaving is made. Take a lesser shaving and this should stop. If this happens with even a light shaving, then something else is likely causing the problem. Also what one user considers a heavy shaving may be different than what another might consider as being a thick shaving.

    Look to see if the blade is setting flat on the face of the frog. Hold the plane up to the light, can light be seen between the frog and the blade? This can be caused by the cap iron bending the blade.

    Steven mentioned having the frog far enough back to allow the blade to be supported by the back of the mouth. If the frog is too far back, it can cause the blade to bow a little and cause chatter.

    Is the frog seating solidly on its mounting to the sole?

    As to "all the negative talk about the type-19 as users," some are very good users, some are dogs. Compared to previous types where there were very few dogs and almost all good and even great users planes.

    By reading through the type studies one can see a lot of reasons why many Stanley/Bailey users prefer models from the earlier years. From 1874 to 1902 the major changes were the addition of a lateral adjuster and the changing of the depth adjuster threads to left handed from right handed.

    In 1902 (type 9) there was a change to the casting to improve the yield from the foundry. This necessitated a change to the frog mounting. It was a change that improved the cost of manufacture and improved the user experience at the same time. Variations on this continued with improvements, frog adjustment added in 1907, to the plane which also improved usability. The period from 1907 to about 1932 is considered the 'Golden ERA' of Stanley/Bailey plane production.

    In 1933 the frog style was changed to reduce production costs. For some this style of frog is fine. All of the frogs that have given me problems were of this style.

    Many people say when purchasing from online auction sites you are taking a risk. My advice is to not purchase planes made after 1933 to avoid some of the risk taking.

    After WWII the world was changing, more power tools, less people working wood for a living. Stanley and other makers had difficulties developing new markets. One thing the could do was to cut costs. This is the ERA of American woodworking tool production many see as the race to the bottom.

    The type 19 may actually be the last type before cost cutting overwhelmed the manufacturing mission.

    jtk


    The zipper effect is exactly what I'm getting with the MF plane. I'm using a cambered, so I think the chip breaker is far enough back not to cause issues. I have to take a really heavy shaving to encounter the "zipper effect" so I haven't been too bothered by it. My last two projects have been in white pine, so I suppose if I started working harder woods it could become an issue.

    The whole discussion on the post WWII decline in quality is interesting, it seems like there was a lag before high-end tool manufacture picked up again with niche brands like Veritas and Lie-Nielsen. It also seems like the decline was a bit inconsistent from manufacturer to manufacturer with some maintaining a reasonable level of quality for longer. Marinus Loewensteijn cited Record, which based on an example my dad bought in the 80's I would agree with. Millers Falls is a bit odd as well, they used cheaper, lighter, materials during WWII for handles, screws, nuts, etc., and for quite a long time afterward. Then, all of a sudden in 1953 the MF type 4 has tropical hardwood handles, a nice heavy depth adjuster nut, and brass nuts on the tote screws, then it's all downhill in 1966.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Marinus Loewensteijn View Post
    I prefer the early 5-1/4 four square over the type 19 5-1/4 .....

    If there are high points I prefer a scraper over a file. (www.amazon.com/Innovative-Tools-International-Super-Scraper/dp/B00005A9T1)

    I adjust the frog so it sits flush with the back of the mouth and do not touch it afterwards. I adjust the chipbreaker from the edge of the blade as conditions require.

    FWIW Record planes kept their quality longer up than Stanley, got a 1960's #4 that is a charm to use as a smoother.
    I've heard of scrapers being used by machinists to achieve very flat surfaces, but that sounds like a highly skilled operation.. Maybe it's easier than I imagine, it's worth a look into at least.

  10. #10
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    The frog face doesn't need to be flat necessarily. The important thing is that when the blade is installed and the lever cap engaged there is contact at the heel of the blade bevel across the full width of the blade. With the thin blades of a Bailey plane and the way the lever cap applies pressure, it's pretty forgiving of the frog not being perfect.

    Use some kind of indicator fluid (maybe just oil and graphite from a pencil) on the bevel side of the blade, install the blade tighten the lever cap and look for a transfer to the frog. Note where the heel of the bevel is when you are at a normal cutting depth. If you don't see indicator marks around this area you may have some work to do. Basically you need to remove the high spots as indicated by the transfer marks. Files and scrapers would be good tools for this, or perhaps a small sanding block.

    I think you could make a serviceable scraper by honing a 95 degree edge on a 1/4" or 3/8" chisel, with a bit of a radius when viewed from the top. That would probably be ok for a small surface like a frog. Scrapers will remove a few ten-thousandths at a time.

  11. #11
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    My type 19 #7, #5 and #3 all achieve 0.6 thousand thick full width shavings on old growth pine 2x4. Hock O1 blades and breakers sharpened on DMT plates, honed with a King 8000g using a Veritas mkII guide. I've never machined or sanded them. Should I expect better results?

  12. #12
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    I had a plane that was not good for anything that I could not make function. Steve did something similar to that plane since the frog was for certain not sitting well. I mean it was when Steve was done with it.

    The plane was for certain not a great plane when finished, but, it went from a worthless landfill candidate to a user. I have not had a lot of need to do this, but when you need to..... It makes a difference.

  13. #13
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    Use some kind of indicator fluid (maybe just oil and graphite from a pencil) on the bevel side of the blade, install the blade tighten the lever cap and look for a transfer to the frog.
    Before doing this make sure the cap iron/chip breaker is not bowing the blade. Check the blade with a straight edge.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  14. There is no need to make whole frog surface flat, as almost all chipbreakers bend the blade slightly.

    It touches at the heel of the bevel and top of frog.

    Many people think the lever cap will flatten the blade onto the frog but this is not so.

    On English Stanleys we often found the bottom of frog support hollow in width. Flattening width here is important as unsupported center may chatter.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Before doing this make sure the cap iron/chip breaker is not bowing the blade. Check the blade with a straight edge.

    jtk

    When I received the Record #4 I sharpened the blade and checked if the chipbreaker was contacting the blade properly without a gap at the mouth (which needed adjustment by bending it back and grinding the surface where the blade and chipbreaker met. Someone had also bend the end of the chipbreker and I had to return that to its proper shape). Unfortunately it still did not want to work properly.

    It had a laminated blade that was far from straight when I checked it. The frog was sitting too far "back", i.e. the back of the mouth was protruding into the mouth opening. Adjusting the frog flush with the mouth opening and straigthening the blade by hand, a 1 minute job, the plane went from a useless chunk of iron to working like a charm.

    FWIW I have learned the hard way not to buy a plane "in open box" or "new in the box" as more often than not they are not able to be made to work well. It is as if those were bought and it was subsequently discovered they did not work well and subsequently were put back in the box.

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