Q: I am a novice woodworker just learning the craft. I purchased a couple of planes and am having difficulty adjusting the blades after sharpening. Could someone give me some insight into the proper method to adjust a blade? Also, one of my planes has a screw and the other has a lever: what are they for? As you see, I know almost nothing about planes.
A: You don’t describe the planes, but I’m assuming they are bench planes. The visible screw on the top of the plane is used to adjust the tightness of the lever cap. The lever cap keeps the blade assembly — blade and cap iron — firmly in place. The lateral adjusting lever is used to make the blade parallel to the sole by moving it left and right.
By your admission, you are a novice woodworker struggling with a plane. It is not an intuitive tool by way of sharpening, adjusting the blade or using the tool. I’m not in the habit of self-promotion, but you might look at a DVD (available from Rockler) I made on the subject entitled Tuning, Setting the Blade, and Planing Techniques.
Image #1: Plane Diagram