Another fundamental requirement I'm afraid - best advice is go and get a good book on the subject 'cos I just muddle along. Somewhere I once read that sharp cutters in combis aren't necessary. Ah, would that it were so, but it ain't. Sharp in combis is a bit like sharp to a carver; it's just got to be for the best results. Luckily the bulk of most plane's cutters are straight and square, so take whoever's advice you fancy on sharpening chisels and straight plane blades. We'll cover the curvy stuff when we reach that bridge. As for angle, It Is Written that a single angle of 35° should be used. People say Why? I bet you did just then, didn't you? Well I reckon it's simply because the cutter of a combi gets so little support anyway, you need to keep the bevel strong and short to take maximum advantage of what there is.

A shallower angle equals a long (unsupported) bevel and subsequent unhappiness.
Set Up

The nitty gritty. We're going to do ourselves a big favour and start by trying out the narrowest plough cutter first. Primarily because that's the easiest set up, but also it's the quickest way to find out if any anomalies you may have found with the straightness of the body skate, fence and fence rods are going to be an issue.

Slip the cutter into the plane and set the blade to take a fine cut to start with. Clamp it up/in/whatever, and then sight down the skate from the front. To make life a bit easier I like to flip the plane over and hold it upside down in the vice from now on. Is the cutter slightly protruding beyond the side of the skate on the depth stop side? Yes? Great.

If applicable check it's protruding beyond the right side too. It is? Fabulous. It's not doing one or other of these things? Check the blade hasn't been tampered with and mis-ground along the side and try another cutter in the plane. Still no good? If that skate was concave then you're going to have to file and generally abrade it straight. I've never heard of the skate being straight and the cutters right and it still being a problem, but if it is then your best bet is probably to grind down the side of the cutter where it's held in the plane so the cutter edge protrudes beyond the binding point. Or get another plane...

The fundamental requirement at this stage is setting the fence section parallel to the body. If it's not, the plane will bind and stop cutting. Out of all the combis I've used I don't think a single one automatically locked either fence or sliding section parallel to the main body; pressure on one or locking point has always been needed to line it up. In theory the design of the 50/050 with the sliding section locked by being pulled up tight against the cutter should result in a perfect result every time. In practice it doesn't, and if it's way off there's no way to correct it either except to grind down the left side of the cutters where the sliding section bears so they can protrude beyond the widest point.

Parallel being important it's equally important to measure the required distance at both heel and toe. Some favour a rule or dial calipers, but I wanted something with less room for error.
Subsequently someone suggested using a combination square set up to the required distance would work well. Ashamed to say it never occurred to me.
Set up blocks aren't new, but having them in pairs increases the accuracy for setting up these long (and frequently flexible) fences. Just select the block or combination of blocks needed for the required spacing, insert them between the fence and body fore and aft, squeeze together and tighten the thumbscrews. Simple. I used odds of metal and plastic I had about the workshop, but a more woodwork-y way would be to use a stable hardwood dimensioned to the required thicknesses.
While I'm at it, another fundamental requirement is to make sure those settings don't slip. Some planes are models of decorum in that respect and a firm nip up of the thumbscrews by hand is more than adequate. Others are perfect swine. Pliers are a favourite for thumbscrews, but do your tools a favour and set aside a small cheap pair for the task and line the jaws with soft leather or similar. You can be as careful as you like but it only takes one slip to have mangled thumbscrews that'll look at you reproachfully for the remaining days of your association with that plane. And make the pliers small because it'll help remove the temptation to heave away and risk busting the casting.
In a similar vein it's handy having a dedicated nail-inna-handle for fitting the fence rods on the 50/050s and some of the adjustments for the 55. (A gentleman in Australia is convinced he invented a lot of the advice you see here, btw, which may come as a surprise to any combi plane users who've been doing it for years. But after considerable effort to find anything I think it's possible this idea came from him. So credit where it's due to Mr Jake Darvall and apologies for overlooking it. I'd point you to his interesting articles on these planes but he declined to respond to my offer of hosting links to them; 'fraid you'll have to Google)

So where was I? Right; fence set, blade set, ah, depth stop. Again I use one or more of my set up blocks but a rule works just as well.
And finally the secret weapon - a quick scribble of candle on the fence and skate. No, it won't effect your finish, it's been used to years and years and no-one's ever reported a problem. Try it, you'll like it.

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