I have an Irwin-Record 9½ block plane which I bought new a year or so ago and have been using and occasionally sharpening the blade on an oilstone. Now the blade-depth adjustment has reached the end of its travel.

When I adjust the blade depth wheel to the other end (fully retracted blade) and move the blade to the next position, the blade protrudes too far - about 1mm depth of cut. The only way to make this work seems to be to grind down the blade significantly which doesn't seem right.

Composite of six photos of Irwin-Record block plane
left = before, right = after

What might be wrong and how can I fix it?

Update following scanny's answer:

Using a vernier caliper, the travel of the fine-adjust tooths without blade installed seems to be about 3mm. The spacing between front edges of all but one of the slots in the blade is about 4mm, so this looks like a design flaw. Maybe Irwin (or their far-away 3rd-party manufacturer) substituted a blade design to save costs somehow?

In fact, looking at it, only the first couple of slots can be used before the end of the long slot in the blade hits the lateral adjuster.

Older Record blades and the current Ray Iles replacements only have grooves on the rear rather than through-slots and they may have been more finely spaced. I only have this photo to go by:

photo of Ray Iles blade for Record block plane

If the long slot in this blade is the same length as that in my Irwin-Record blade (34.3mm), the adjustment grooves are spaced 3mm (centre to centre) and so are a better match to the fine adjustment travel.

Using a dial indicator (as suggested) I measured the travel of the blade installed in the plane when moving the adjustment wheel from top (deepest blade position) to bottom (highest blade position) I measured a total movement of only 1.95mm - say 2mm. This is less than the 3mm travel in adjuster tooths which I measured when the blade was not in place.

Composite of Photos of measuring movement of plane-blade
(Plane is clamped down, subdial of indicator shows just under 2mm movement = 2 rotations of main dial for full travel of plane's adjustment wheel. Click for larger image)

This is partly because at the top position, the pivot arm hits the underside of the blade before the adjustment wheel reaches the top of it's screw. There's also a large vertical clearance gap between the adjustment wheel and the edges of the corresponding slot in the pivot lever in which the wheel sits - so part of the wheel's travel doesn't move the lever, until the wheel reaches the other side of the clearance gap.

Given the spacing of the adjustment slots is 4mm, I can't see how this blade can be moved to the adjacent slot and positioned ready for use without grinding the blade down by 1 or 2 mm.

  • Use a different slot!
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 7:51
  • @Graphus: I did! Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 9:50
  • I mean there IS a slot that will allow you to adjust this so it works. There has to be — think about it, you can't have suddenly worn away enough steel from the edge since the previous honing (after which the plane was still adjustable as needed, yes?). You're making a simple error you just can't spot. So take the iron out, spin the wheel to the fully-retracted position, place the iron so its edge is well out of the mouth. Place and tighten the cap then spin the wheel in the opposite direction, I'm sure you'll find the edge will protrude just fine.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 16:34
  • Re. the adjustment lever, you can adjust that to reduce slop in the mechanism see this PDF. I'm still stuck though on how the plane could have been working fine after the 2nd-last honing and then all of a sudden this. Honing removes maybe 0.01mm of steel....
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:36
  • @Graphus: If we number the slots in the blade with slot 1 being nearest the cutting edge. 1) With the two adjuster teeth engaged in 1&2 the blade cannot be advanced far enough to take a cut. 2) with the adjuster teeth engaged in slots 2&3 (where it has always been) I can only just advance the blade far enough to take extremely thin shavings. 3) with the adjuster teeth engaged in slots 3&4 the blade protrudes grossly and cannot be withdrawn to less than 0.7mm (perpendicular to sole) which is far too heavy a cut to be usable. I need to find a better way to express this, sorry. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


Hmm, interesting. Off-hand I'd say that's a design flaw. You could confirm that by measuring (perhaps with a dial-indicator) the full length of blade travel available from the fine-adjust and comparing it to the distance between the slots in the blade. If the slot spacing is longer than the fine-adjust range, then there is a "dead-zone" of blade positions that can't be reached.

In that case, I'd probably grind off a bit of the end of the blade and move on, and maybe ask for a more carefully designed plane for a holiday present. Rob Cosman likes WoodRiver as a value-priced option, I've often thought I'd give those a hard look if I were in the market again.

I suppose you could possibly modify the fine-adjust travel by grinding or filing something down (like the adjustment nut bottom face or the casting boss it contacts at the bottom of its travel), but that seems like a lot of trouble with no clear assurance of reward and of course the risk of screwing something up permanently :).

  • I have encountered this issue on a couple of (lower end) block planes in my travels through the world of old tools. Even the old companies had some lower end stuff later on. I came to the same conclusion that it is a design flaw. It never took too much grinding to catch up and get it back in shape though. Just a little irksome waste of time and steel. In other news, I have a Wood River no. 4 and its a great plane. I'm not a fan of Woodcraft (putting it mildly) but the plane is quality.
    – Otto
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 3:15
  • I updated my question with the measurements you suggested. I believe you are right. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 21:06

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