Plane sharpening

I'm curious how folks are sharpening their planes. I wondering what is the fastest and most accurate. 


12 replies:

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RE: Plane sharpening


You might be interested in looking at the Garret Wade site, a Canadian bunch famous for high quality and $$$ tools.

I just ordered their 'Diamond Honing guide'

Research this, there is a lot of junk

Obviously first decision a) elbow grease and time b) electricity and $$, .. like 'Tomac'

RE: Plane sharpening


Works for me!


Honestly, it took me about 40 minutes the first time to get it sharp, but now, It takes just a few minutes each time I need to use it to keep it sharp. 

RE: Plane sharpening

The CLC shop tip above is excellent. Here is an additional trick I read somewhere years ago to sharpen the front of the blade without rocking the blade and rounding the edge slightly.

Loosen the lever cap, drop the plane blade below the sole (say 2 ") and tighten the cap again. Using a flat stone on the bench rest the blade on the top of the stone and the heel of plane on the bench. Slide back and foward to sharpen. To get a repeatable bevel, mark or measure the amount of blade you extend. This is so easy to do you can touch up the edge on your blade very frequently.


  cheers Dave

RE: Plane sharpening

I got nothing on sharpening planes, but when I built my Wood Duck I used a little razor plane that actually was easier to manipulate on the thin plywood than a full-sized plane. No sharpening, just new razor blade. Maybe not the answer for tool purists, but effective and inexpensive.

RE: Plane sharpening

I use a Veritas Mark II honing guide, and the "Scary Sharp" method for sharpening (uses several sheets of various grit silicon carbide or similar abrasive paper tack-glued to a sheet of glass, instead of whetstones etc).

I used to really zen out about sharpening, still do when the mood takes me, but overall, the above method gives me unbelievably mirror-smooth razor-sharp tools, properly microbevelled so they hold an edge longer, in no time flat.

The end result is that I never need to hesitate mid-job to re-polish an edge if it's a bit dull, and all my planes and chisels are always sharp and ready to go, all the time.

My setup isn't nearly as fancy as the one I link to above. I just bought an off-cut of thick-ish toughened glass (leftover from a kitchen splashback job I imagine) from the local glass place, put some rubber feet on it, and bought several packets of 'paper from an automotive accessories store (I couldnt get the really fine 2000+ grits in the regular hardware store).




RE: Plane sharpening

I use a slightly cheaper veritas honing guide. Works like a hot damn.,43072,43078 

RE: Plane sharpening

I use an inexpensive (12.00 USD or so) guide and the CLC waterstone. The cheap guide is really quick, perfectly accurate, and easy to setup (unlike the Veritas jig, as much as I loved it). The kind I mean has a stamping telling you how far to extend the iron past the end of the jig for primary and secondary edge.  

If its real dull I use a coarse waterstone and finish with the CLC.  If it's really really dull I use 60 grit, 100 grit...on up to 400 and then coarse waterstone and then CLC waterstone.  If it is desparately dull I will run the jig/iron a few times on a long file (there are two degrees of fineness...the finer file is plenty fast) and then go to 60 grit, etc.

Don't bother with all the Scary Sharp stuff about gluing the paper down--just put your hand on the paper to hold it down. The gluing stuff serves no purpose, is a mess, takes the fun out of it, loads your boat with epoxy contamination if you use spray adhesive, and it takes ten times as long as the sharpening.



RE: Plane sharpening

I don't mean to offend anyone here, but I'm always amazed at all the contraptions that are sold to woodworkers that are designed as a substitute for skill.  They are expensive, unnecessary, and if used actually prevent you from attaining the skill.  You don't need a guide to sharpen a chissle or plane.  Sandpaper on your table saw, or any other flat surface, works fine.  Set the blade on the paper so the bevel is flat on the paper.  Now raise the end about 5 degrees and draw the blade towards you to put a micro bevel on it.  It only takes a couple of passes.  By the time you get your tool set up in the jig, I'm back to work with a perfectly sharp tool.  Also, a couple of passes on a leather strop is well worth the time.


RE: Plane sharpening

When I moved into this house 26 years ago the previous owner, the guy that built the place, was in his 80s. He left behind a nice workbench, with wooden! screws in the vices and 3 Sargent planes. A jack plane, a bullnose rabbet plane (still in the box) and a small low angle block plane. All were rusty and battered sitting in the damp basement. I have been cleaning and sharpening them. The block plane has a real nice feel to it. It's similar in size to the one Nick uses in his vids. It's become my favorite. I have a planing guide, but I've been using the sand paper on flat surface method and find that works quite well.


RE: Plane sharpening

Do a google search on "scary sharp" and follow the directions you find.  No need for fancy guides or jigs, though I guess they probably help with consistency of angle.


RE: Plane sharpening

Before attempting to sharpen the blade you must make sure the back of the blade is perfectly flat right up to the cutting edge. They seldom come that way from the factory. Get a piece of tempered plate glass. spritz some water on the glass then lay on a piece of fine grit silicone carbide sanpaper. The surface tension of the water will hold the paper on the glass and the glass provides a super flat surface to flatten the back of the plane blade. Add additional water to the cutting surface of the sandpaper and begin flattening the back of the plane blade. Once the plane blade is perfectly flat you can start sharpening the blade angle. I use a plane blade honing guide. This is a device that holds the plane blade at a constant angle against the sandpaper and has a roller in back that allows the whole thing to move over the sanpaper with a minimum of friction. I used to use a series of japanese water stones but they are quite expensive. I have found that by moving to sucessively finer grits of silicon carbide paper I can get the same razor edge at a fraction of the cost and in less time. A spray bottle full of water is a great way to mist the sandpaper as you go keeping it wet while you sharpen.

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