Woodworking Talk banner

Need help with hand plane.

1372 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Dave Paine
I Purchased a no 5 jack plane on EBay and I can't seem to get it sharp. I have put the blade in the grinder to try and get a 25 degree angle, I used a square and no matter how I sharpen it it does not sharpen correctly? When I put the iron and the chip breaker together and go to plane it takes off super thin pieces and tears the wood. I'm using pine as my test board. Before I sharpened it, it was working 100% better...

Please help as I'm thoroughly frustrated.

I used a diamond stone and made sure the back was flat before sharpening the angle side. I then created a slight back bevel.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Decided I wouldn't wait for a reply and just try a 22.5 degree knife bevel I was familiar with.... What do ya know, worked great!


See less See more
The common honing angle for a Stanley bevel down bench plane is 30 deg. This is what I use on my hand planes.

Since the bevel is down the blade side presented to the wood is the back and so the angle between the back and the wood is determined by the frog, typically 45 deg.

I am surprised a 25 deg angle did not work. Possible that the edge was not sharp.

I sharpened a blade once and did not pay attention to getting a burr for each grit. The resulting blade edge looked smooth and shiny, but it did not cut. I went back to the grits and this time ensured I had a burr for each grit. After the re-sharpening it cut well.

When I sharpen these days I always check that I have a burr, otherwise I have not reached the edge with a given grit.
That very well could have been my problem! When I received the plane it looked as though it was below a 20 degree angle. It was cutting, but A LOT of tear out. So I tried to just grind it down with my wheel to clean it up and didn't create a burr. I then used stones all the way to 1200 grit. It sure was shiny but it didn't do anything.

I decided to just regrind the whole thing with a known angle that cuts great on my rock river knife. Made sure to have a burr, I only took it to 600 grit because I didn't want to waste my time again sharpening to find out it didn't cut... What do you know, it cut great! So it very well could have been my initial sharpening method.

Great advice. Thanks!
One other thing to consider is the fit and placement of the cap iron. It comes off for each sharpening/honing session, so it may well be mounted in a different position or orientation each time. I have more than once, mounted the cap iron too close to the cutting edge, resulting in nothing or just dust coming through the mouth of the plane. Move it back 1/2 to 3/4 of a hair and it magically starts slicing like a hot knife through butter.
One other thing to consider is the fit and placement of the cap iron.
The cap iron is an integral component in the performance of how the plane cuts. The contribution of the cap iron to cutting is not so simple.

I have a book "Planecraft" by the engineers 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.

You will need to experiment. The setting may differ between dense wood vs softer wood vs end grain vs wild grain. This is why we need to tune our plane for the task at hand, which will differ based on the wood, the grain etc.

I have experienced what MarkE mentioned. I was using a test piece of construction lumber. I had the cap iron close to the edge. It did not cut well. I moved the cap iron back slightly and it cut much easier.

Perhaps the original poster had the cap iron about the same between the first sharpening and the second. The difference may have been the better sharpening the second time around.
See less See more
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.