Sharpening Plane Irons

Traditionally, honing dull tools means it’s time to get out the oilstones and employ elbow grease mixed with a good dose of skill to bring edges back up to arm-hairshearing sharpness. The first speaks to how much effort we should be putting into sharpening keeping in mind that the act of sharpening is not the goal itself, but rather a means to an end. I can quickly get an edge on Diamond plates, they cut faster than the majority of stones on the market and they stay flat, which is their strengths. When Making my dovetail boxes I started with a sharp plane and did not re-sharpen through the whole project.

It’s easy to get into the rhythm of sharpening and forget to check what you’re doing, so you’ll have to work hard to make a habit of stopping frequently to look at what’s happening to the tool. Once the primary bevel is done, turning a knurled brass knob resets the guide’s eccentric roller to a slightly elevated angle for honing a secondary bevel (aka micro bevel” — a very useful sharpening technique).

I have minimal amounts of time when I’m working to spend sharpening my tools and need the quickest possible way, not the most time consuming. So, before I can evolve the design of the jig, I need to know the perceived shortcomings of the jig. Currently, as a professional….antique repair/restoration….my shopmate sharpens his chisels etc on a belt sander and a buffing wheel……..I use water stones…..and we don’t fuss at each other.

Good waterstones are awesome and can get to incredibly fine grits, but they’re expensive, need to be lapped (most people use a lapping diamond stone which is also very expensive). Anyone with access to sandpaper and a reasonably flat surface can sharpen any cutting tool, often with good results. Sharpening is one of those subjects that can turn up the heat on any discussion, and I think that strong opinion can be necessary but what I feel is more important, or at least more helpful is when the opinion is dished out with a full understanding of the context or circumstance behind it. The whole process of sharpening a plane surgically sharp should take about 3-4 minutes including resetting.

The reason we use the honing guide, is because like most of you visiting this article, I CANNOT judge angles by eye for sharpening, and, honestly, people that claim they can are, in my opinion, cheating themselves out of sharpening accuracy. You, readers of these pages, must have seen or experienced many limitations or inadequacies of the design of my jig. I see all too often that people don’t believe they can achieve independent freehand sharpening that’s highly effective and efficient. I use a wood jig I made to guide me in obtaining the correct grinding angle in order to sharpen the blade.

Heres a most excellent Rockwell edge planer… Great for boat building and general carpentry comes with a total of 3 cutters and sharpening attachment works fine…. nice condition. In other words, since the average bench plane blade is bedded at 45°, any bevel angle 10° or so less than that will provide the needed clearance. The bevel angle gauge is used to measure the various features of the plane iron.sharpening plane irons

I know this is going against every thing this site stands for, but I have never been able to sharpen tools to an edge that satisfied me. I finally gave up and bought a Worksharp sharpening system. Once the blade is secured in the guide at the correct angle I oil my stone lightly and rub the plane iron back and forth to polish and further sharpen the edge. Vintage chisels were sharpened by hand, a process that produces human error resulting in skew and camber on the chisel. This is a plane that will put a surface on a large area such as the main surface of a raised panel or a style or rail of a door.

This is from the 50’s, however it came NIB” so while it needed some work it didn’t take much compared to a much used and abused plane from 10 years before that. PROS: System comes complete with diamond hones; no need to buy separate stones or accessories. Gouges and other curved chisels require a special curved stone – a ‘slip’ – to remove the wire edge. In other words, the sharpening process goes faster, your tools last longer, and you know that you are applying the best possible cutting geometry all of the time.