I recently bought a vintage Stanley Bailey No. 4 (Type 19 I think, I am new these tools) and after lapping sole and frog surface and putting it back together I found that the iron is skewed and I have to put the lateral adjustment lever almost completely to the right to get even shavings.

Whatever I try to align the frog, either the iron is skewed vertically or not perpendicular to the throat. From the top it looks fine:


But when I put in the iron (lateral adjustment lever in the middle) it looks like this from below:


When I look at the bottom areas where the frog rests on the sole, they seem asymmetrical (I filed one of the inner edges, because I thought it was stuck on some paint). I added lines to make it more obvious.


And the side which has the smaller contact area in the picture above also seems to be fatter if I look on them from the front:


The iron is pretty square and flat. I also tried an different cutting iron from a No. 5 and the problem is the same.

Am doing something wrong or is this a defect of manufacturing? Is that possible or even common for Stanley Bailey planes (of some era)? And if so, how can I fix it? Should I try to file it down? I guess I would have to correct the upper contact area, too?

  • Look at your positioning of the frog and iron to each other. First seat the frog in the plane and examine the adjustment lever position. The lever should center in the frog/iron opening and on the center line of the plane. Verify that there is not too much play in the adjustment arm before it engages the frog.
    – Ashlar
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 23:48
  • Since this is post-fettling, before you did anything to the plane was the iron projecting unevenly? Given how much it's off I imagine it would have been noticeable.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 7:36
  • @Graphus Unfortunately I took it apart straight away without inspecting that aspect. It was quite rusted so I did not bother to give it a test run before starting the restoration.
    – Elbonian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 8:26
  • 1
    This is timely. Believe it or not, I'm having the exact same problem with the exact same plane. Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 15:38
  • @CharlieKilian Nice to know, that I am not alone. ;) I cross-posted my issue here: ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/frog-adjustment-problem-t107324-15.html - you might want to have a look at the suggestions there.
    – Elbonian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


To update on what I finally did:

I worked up my courage to file the frog and it came out very good! ;-)

First I put some washers under the contact areas of the frog on one side to find out how much the difference is.


I installed everything with the washers in place and it worked nicely on the first try. I could leave the lateral adjustment lever in the middle [i]and[/i] get even shavings.

I measured the thickness of the washers (1 mm) and made marks on the side of the frog accordingly with a knife and a calliper. The I filed it down to the marks and tried to get it as flat as possible (and everything in the same plane). I had to sand the upper part on a granite tile, because I was not able to do it with the file. I test-fitted it occasionally.

After I could feel no more wobble, I put everything back together and: ta-da! It fits great and I can leave the lever almost exactly in the middle. I am much happier now. ;-)

  • Excellent fix! First time I've heard of this much material removal from one side of a frog being needed so it's good to know that might be the case. I get old wrecks at flea markets and car boots sometimes and you never know what condition issues are lurking under the rust when you buy them.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 6:19
  • Kudos for text and clear and illustrative images and follow up on solution.
    – LosManos
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 6:55

I was having a hard time visualising things from the photos so I have a frog here in front of me to compare. Unfortunately it isn't helping me figure out what's wrong with your plane!

Am doing something wrong or is this a defect of manufacturing? Is that possible or even common for Stanley Bailey planes (of some era)?

I think it's a defect in the plane, although I can't figure out what it is* you do see some variation on this routinely on Bailey-pattern metal planes (at least on mass-market ones, I don't know if L-N, Clifton or Veritas planes have these sorts of issues with their higher tolerances).

I have to put the lateral adjustment lever almost completely to the right to get even shavings.

That's your workaround right there.

Regardless of whether the plane was like this before you did anything to it, if the lateral-adjustment lever pushed far to the right allows you to take even shavings then run the plane that way. It's perfectly fine to have a bench plane set up that way — if you look at photos of many vintage planes in use in amateur and professional workshops you'll find examples where the lever is in this position. Some lean to left or right will be down to slop in the mechanism but slop wouldn't account for the cases where it's pushed far over, so sometimes it's going to be to adjust for this sort of projection issue.

*I think it's a combination of factors rather than down to one thing which is why the cause is not standing out

  • Thanks for the confirmation that it is not totally uncommon. Although I have to admit that I can get it to work fine, it is still a thorn in my side to see the lever kind of "hanging overboard".
    – Elbonian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 20:34

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