This email asks two questions and I thought others might benefit.


I have an old Stanley #4 that I have cleaned up and been using for a while, however the lateral adjustment is very stiff. I am wondering how I would go about loosing it, or if it is even a problem? Also what are your thoughts about using beeswax for plane soles?


I suppose you have applied WD40 or a drop of oil. Sometimes secondhand or old tools are still tools that had almost no use but can look old because of exposure to damp and atmosphere, therefore the parts have minimal use. Often the lateral adj levers on new planes were stiff, one tap too many, but usually loosened up quite quickly; within a few weeks anyway. I would persevere with the stiffness. It should adjust just fine but can result in overcompensating  a little. It will loosen soon. I think a plain old wax candle works equally well and so too furniture polish. Beeswax has always been a bit sticky for me. On the other hand, my favourite friction fixer is a 4oz tomato can stuffed with a carefully folded and rolled up teeshirt cloth. Make it about 1/2″ taller than the can and really work it in as tight as you can. Take a can of 3-1 light machine oil and keep filling the rag. Do this regularly and eventually you will only need to top it up once every six months. You can then leave it on the bench, rub the plane over it and it will operate smoothly. I also use this on the side of my saws and other tools. Used this for nearly fifty years.

Best regards,



  1. dickster2112 on 25 August 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Have you ever noticed the oil leaving a mark or interfering with any subsequent polish?
    especially on pine and other light woods. I have always tried to keep machine oils and the like away from my wood for fear of marking or contaminating them.

    • Paul Sellers on 26 August 2012 at 9:35 am

      This is a good question. People always seem seriously concerned about this, mostly because of what has been written by way of accounting for things such as fisheye or flash in the surface finish after applying varnish and such. The risk is however minimal and certainly not from what I am suggesting. The oil leaves no residue on the wood and in all my years of using it (and the men before me who did the same for decades) this was never am issue, so I think try it and see f it works for you. My tools never rust and the ease through cuts as smoothly as can be.

  2. Paul Sellers on 19 February 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Basically it’s a poprivet adjusted not to tight. Quite simple. Are yo in the UK or US? I can probably find one but I also see them on ebay from time to time.

  3. Paul Sellers on 22 February 2013 at 5:15 am

    Thanks for that, Ed. Things like this pop and you stand amazed.

  4. Art on 9 October 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Paul, what about if a lateral adjuster is too loose? That’s the problem I’m having in a Stanley No. 4.

    • Paul Sellers on 9 October 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Does that mean it doesn’t engage in the slot in the cutting iron to move/swivel the cutting iron assembly? A loose lateral lever is OK unless it doesn’t engage.

  5. Ross Hollinger on 29 May 2018 at 6:14 pm

    I have a Bed Rock 608 that needs to have the lateral adjustment lever replaced. I can do it, but would like some advice or “how to” before I dive in the deep end of the pool. I’m not finding anything useful on youtube or the net. Maybe you can do a video on it. 🙂

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