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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought an ordinary Stanley #7 jointer hand plane at the swap meet the other day. I want to use it as a jointer for jointing (straightening and "right-angle-ing") board edges. Someday I want to buy a powered jointer, but I need something now, and it wouldn't hurt to learn hand planing skills.

The plane looked perfectly flat at the swap meet, but when I got it home and put a straightedge to it, you can see a little light shining from underneath the sole. The sole looks very slightly worn in the center and slightly higher on the front, back, and sides.

I own a set of DMT diamond stones (mostly the two-sided six-inch, but I have one 8 inch extra-extra-course DMT stone. The problem is that this is a very long plane. I don't want to make things worse by trying to flatten the sole with small stones.

Here are my questions:

1. The gap is very small. Am I better off leaving the sole alone and simply using the plane as-is?

2. If it is worth flattening the sole, then how do I do it without making things worse? Can I use the diamond stones? Do I need to find a really big piece of glass and use multiple sheets of sandpaper? Any better ideas?
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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Use belt sanding belts cut and glued to plate glass to flatten the sole and sides of the plane. That should give you a continuous piece of abrasive for this long plane.
 

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yacht woodworker
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You can buy rolls of self adhesive sandpaper. The rolls I use are 2 3/4" wide. I'd put 2 strips down side by side on a cast iron table or piece of granite and start working it.

To me it's worth doing so I'd say go for it.

I also use the same process for chisels and plane blades. I'll use the sticky back paper in 100 grit up to 320 before switching to diamond stones.
 

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Here are my questions:

1. The gap is very small. Am I better off leaving the sole alone and simply using the plane as-is?

2. If it is worth flattening the sole, then how do I do it without making things worse? Can I use the diamond stones? Do I need to find a really big piece of glass and use multiple sheets of sandpaper? Any better ideas?
How small is "very small"? The thickness of a sheet of paper? A playing card? Your finger? That's really the critical question here.

Here's the ugly truth: Wood Moves. It sounds like your plane is probably very slightly worn down in the center, where it cut most often before you got it. If you're talking "sheet of paper" or less, I'd use it as is. You can flatten it, but in the end a straight edge today (on the wood) may be a curve tomorrow.

That said: there's nothing wrong with making it flatter, and it may make things easier. For that, I'm with everyone else: get a roll of sandpaper and find a known-flat surface to stick it to. For something like this I'd probably start at 80 or 100 grit, and work up to 400 or so, then coat it with paraffin wax. I've gone higher on one plane, and it didn't seem to make any real difference in usability. It sure was shiny, though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I went to the glass shop yesterday and got a nice thick piece about 10 x 30, which can support two regular sheets of sandpaper end-to-end, or several long strips.

Thanks to everyone for their ideas. I think this one is a keeper. Once I get it restored, then I want to teach myself to use it well.
 

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I use wet & dry paper. You can buy it at auto finishing supply stores. Just wet it and it will stick to any slick flat surface, no glue required. You can put several pieces end to end. Use it wet. The water will flush away the slurry and make cutting go faster. The sole of a plane doesn't need to be polished, just flat. Wet & Dry paper is silicone carbide so it will cut metal (Cast iron in this case.)
 
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