(Disclaimer: This is not for those who already have a good sharpening system. This is for those who want to get started without a large expense)
This is a picture of End-grain shavings from walnut, taken from a 100-year old Stanley No. 5 jack plane on a shooting board.
I sharpened that plane blade with nothing more than this Harbor Freight 4-sided diamond block ($13 on sale…see here: http://www.harborfreight.com/4-sided-diamond-hone-block-92867.html ). It only goes up to 600 grit, but that is enough to at least learn how to sharpen and even use a hand-plane for lots of useful things on medium woods. I can’t shave with it, but It does catch on my finger-nail, and takes a nice shaving on walnut with the grain.
If you are concerned about starting out in sharpening, I found this as a good place to start.
-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!