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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yowza!!! There are a TON of different methods to sharpen plane iron.

Which method do you guys recommend for someone new to sharpening planes? Waterstones? Scary sharp? Stupid Sharp?

And do I need to worry about secondary bevels? Micro bevels? rounding the front? Chamfer the edges?

And second question:

How do you know when your plane iron NEEDS sharpening instead of something else needing to be done to the plane? For instance, how do I know that the mouth opening is not too big nor too small? How do I know that the depth is not too high, nor too low?

In short, what is the best way to diagnose what the problem actually is?
 

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There will lots of opinions and they are good. I like water stones for a quick tune up. When the plane begins to drag or there is tear out, I wax the sole and put a few stokes on the iron with 8000 grit stone and then stop to polish. I don't use a micro bevel so I can do this free hand. Once I nick it or can't tune it easily I use a wet grinder to reshape the bevel and then go to water stones and a stop as before.

I have a granite block and have used the sand paper method but it takes more effort to get it out and create more mess than grabbing a stone. Results are great so no complains other than the mess.
 

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Chris Curl started a sharpening thread some months back. Worth taking a look.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f11/share-your-sharpening-secrets-48401/

Too many variables to attempt to provide how to troubleshoot all potential problems with sharpening.

Whatever method you use for sharpening, ensure you get a burr on the back side of the blade for each grit. The burr gets smaller with the higher grits.

If you do not get the burr, it means you did not get the grit to the edge of the blade. Been there, done that. Had a nicely polished blade but it did not want to cut. I had not been paying attention to the burr. I do now.

I happen to use a diamond lapping plate to start my sharpening of the plane restorations then complete with wet-dry sandpaper on a granite slab. I do use a Veritas Mk II honing jig.

Once I have sharpened a blade, I may hone the blade with a hand held credit card diamond sharpener or I may go back to the sandpaper and granite slab with the jig.

In addition to the blade sharpening you should also flatten the front edge of the cap iron so you have good contact with the cap iron and blade across the entire width of the blade. If you do not have good contact, shavings will get stuck and cause the plane to skip.

You should be able to get thin consistent shavings on soft wood. I use a piece of 2x4 I think spruce which has no knots for my testing. I plane one of the edges.

I am normally setting the blade to get very thin shavings.

Another aspect of tuning is the distance of the front of the cap iron to the edge of the blade.

When I first started to use hand planes, I thought the blade did all the work. I thought the cap iron was only to prevent the blade from flexing.

The cap iron does work to stop the blade from flexing, but it is incredibly important in how the shavings cut. Not intuitive.

Over time I read more, including an old book "Planecraft" by the folks at the old Record company G.W. Hampton and E.Clifford. Sub title "Hand planing by modern methods".

I bought mine from Woodcraft. I read that it is out of print. It was reprinted by Woodcraft.

The authors used to work for the old Record company. First published in 1934.

This is a well written book. Lots of useful information.

The section on plane adjustment has the following recommendations for the distance of the cap iron from the edge of the blade.

For rough work, cap iron 1/32in to 1/16in from edge of blade.

For finishing work, cap iron 1/64in from edge of blade.

For hard woods with irregular grain - as close as you can get it to the cutting edge.


Useful, although not quite so simple. Try closer and if the blade is sharp but not cutting pull the cap iron back a tiny amount.
 

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Yowza!!! There are a TON of different methods to sharpen plane iron.

Which method do you guys recommend for someone new to sharpening planes? Waterstones? Scary sharp? Stupid Sharp?

And do I need to worry about secondary bevels? Micro bevels? rounding the front? Chamfer the edges?

And second question:

How do you know when your plane iron NEEDS sharpening instead of something else needing to be done to the plane? For instance, how do I know that the mouth opening is not too big nor too small? How do I know that the depth is not too high, nor too low?

In short, what is the best way to diagnose what the problem actually is?
my answer you your first question, I use scary sharp. For me its easier to justify a few$ for some paper and a flat surface, then it is a decent set of water stones or oil stones. I do use one oil stone for touch ups / quick honing. (my oil stone was a garage sale special).

second question: When your plane gets hard to push, starts to chatter start getting tear out, chances are you need to sharpen your blade.

mouth opening; If your getting tear out close the mouth, If your getting shavings stuck in the mouth, open the mouth and / or sharpen your blade.

Depth; this depends on what your after, If your using a scrub plane and going for quick stock removal then you want a hefty shaving, however you dont want to go so deep you are causing tear out. when your flattening stock, I like to have shavings maybe 1/32" thick, I dont get out the ruler or micrometer Just an eyeball guess, once the stock is mostly flat, I try to go a bit thinner, maybe 1/64". If your in the final smoothing you want to take off as little stock as possible. the goal is to try for see through.

bevels....... this is almost like opening pandora's box, everyone has their own opinions, I I will not be the one to open the box!.

Chamfers. on a scrub plane, yes, a drastic chamfer does work easier, on a smoothing plane, and jonter planes chamfers will allow you to not have plane tracks / ridges witch will reduce the amount of scrapping / clean up required after planing.

I hope this helps!
 

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Listen to Dave! No matter what method you use, the key is forming the burr. If it isn't there, it isn't sharp. Every thing else is just window dressing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What exactly is the Burr, and how do I get one??? I am sorry that when I looked up Plane Burr on google the only thing they had was what looked like videos of an air traffic controller having a meltdown.
 

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What exactly is the Burr, and how do I get one??? I am sorry that when I looked up Plane Burr on google the only thing they had was what looked like videos of an air traffic controller having a meltdown.
A sharp edge is the intersection of two planes. When one plane intersects the other, the abrasive pushes material over the edge forming a burr, also known as a wire edge. You can feel it on the side opposite the bevel. Flip the iron, knock off the burr with the abrasive and move on to the next one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
"Flip the iron, knock off the burr with the abrasive and move on to the next one."
Thanks. Ok I think I understand that now.

But let me ask you the order that you sharpen:

1) Do you use the rougher grit on the beveled side until there is a burr, then flip over to the flat side and use rougher grit to remove the burr, and then progress up through the various finer grits, alternating between bevel and flat side?

2) Or do you do the bevel side on the rougher grit until you get the burr, then use the finer grits on the bevel side until you get to the finest grit and THEN flip the iron over to the flat side and do the same process?

It sounds like Dave Paine uses method 1, because he says:

"Whatever method you use for sharpening, ensure you get a burr on the back side of the blade for each grit. The burr gets smaller with the higher grits."
So I assume he sharpens with the roughest grit until the burr is formed, then flips over and sharpens the back with the same rough grit, then moves on to the next grit and repeats the process.
 

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Look for YouTube video of Rob Cosman sharpening a plane or Lue-Nielsen also has a good sharpening video.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the responses.

It seems like most people say either waterstone or scary sharp with sandpaper.

How about other sharpening stores that are NOT waterstones?

(I would rather not have to worry about first having to get the waterstones flat in order to get the plane iron sharp... that seems like just one more thing that could possibly go wrong...)
 

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How about other sharpening stores that are NOT waterstones?

(I would rather not have to worry about first having to get the waterstones flat in order to get the plane iron sharp... that seems like just one more thing that could possibly go wrong...)

The water stones should already be flat when you purchase them, so it won't be the first thing you have to do.

Flattening them is as easy as making pencil marks across the face and then abrading them until all marks are gone. For this I use a piece of plate glass and some 400x wet/dry paper.

Other options to water stones / sandpaper include Arkansas soft/hard oil stones, other synthetic stones (which may be very coarse) and diamond stones. I can't comment on the costs of these other options as I don't use them.

I use a single combination water stone (1000x/6000x). I got it about 2 years ago for ~$40. If I need to change a bevel angle or work out nicks I use sandpaper on plate glass.

I just recently bought a strop and some green rouge to use after the 6000x and I've got to say it makes a noticeable difference on the white oak I've been working with.
 

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Thanks. Would that same waterstone work on chisels too?
It sure does. I use that stone to sharpen everything I have including pocket knives.

When you do a lot of chisel sharpening you have to use the whole surface to sharpen, especially when sharpening narrower chisels. If you don't, the stone will need to be flattened more often.
 

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The advantage of papers over water stones is that there is never any guessing about what's flat.
My waterstones are bellied from doing wood carving tools and that is of no consequence at all.
My spokeshaves and planes get done on papers and honed on card stock. I don't give a sweet rat's patootie what that system is called.
The most important things are first, pick a system to try, to learn, to use. Second, realize that there are at least half a dozen ways to get what you want. PICK ONE and do it.
1. Paint some black felt marker on the bevel so that you can see where the metal is coming off.
2. Make every effort to sustain exactly the same bevel angle through out the entire process. Otherwise you waste your time and mess the tool edge.
 

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I have tried just about any method possible and never got hooked into one way only. So I would sometimes jump from one to another.

Of late, this is what I do:

1.) Establish the main bevel on a grinder, this is the one I use:

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Slow-Speed-Grinder/G1036

2.) After (1) above, I use a Veritas guide, with an angle about 1 1/2 degrees steeper than the grinder grind. This jig.

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=33001&cat=1,43072,43078&ap=1

3.) I use the guide with water stones, no more than 4 strokes each, first 2000, then 8000. I find it important to use the water stones only as a light polish, because if they go out of flat it is a hassle. If I work carefully across the stone surface, it remains flat, but no heavy use allowed.

4.) If my main bevel gets too short and I am in a bind for time, I will go back to scary, 800, 1000, 2000 paper with water on a granite stone. I find though that I cannot get the accuracy and the same sharpness as the water stones deliver. The deflection of the paper is enough to prevent a perfectly flat surface, giving a micro iron cut equally across the whole iron when planing.

5.) If I have the luxury of more time, I would skip (4) above and re-do the main bevel as in (1) above.
 
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