The first thing that I did is setup a griding/honing station. I say grinding because when you are taking on a plane sole that is essentially what you are doing. I don’t have an 18” long belt sander, so this is the only way I could think of doing it.
I found an ad in my local Craigslist listing for a guy who was selling his over-stocked granite tiles. They are 24” long, 12” wide and 3/8” thick. Most sharpening enthusiasts would say that this is too thin, but it worked for me. I don’t have float-glass handy so this is the flattest surface I could muster. Besides, at $3 per tile, I purchased enough for this little project and my eventual “scary sharp” station. I used Elmer’s spray adhesive to keep the sandpaper in place. Worked very well. Just have a bottle of mineral spirits handy for when you need to replace the sand paper….otherwise you’ll waste a lof time getting the paper off again. Some people have said they use water as a natural adhesive…I think I’ll explore that next time.
Here’s a tip for anyone who ever plans on doing this as a rookie like me. Skip straight to the 60 grit paper for initial rough-grinding. Don’t bother with 100 or higher. It just clogs up and gets ground down to nothing in seconds. I learned that the hard way. I did the number 4 first and it took me FOREVER. For the bigger number 6, I went to the Home Depot and picked up a roll of Norton’s 60 grit abrassive paper and that worked like a dream. Stayed rough longer and ground off way more metal.
Here’s another tip: don’t use abrassive sleeves. I originally purchased a sanding sleeve for a power belt sander, cut it in half, and tried to glue it to the granite tiles using spray adhesive. I had to weigh it down with lots of stuff and even then it didn’t stay put for long. The backing is very strong so it resists staying straight. Use the paper roll from Norton…it glues down almost instantly.
Anyway I ground away at the bottom and sides of the sole for what was about an hour and a half. It was a long process, but the results were great. Here’s what the sanding station looked like after:
Notice all the black stuff. That’s little bits of grounded metal. Have a brush handy if you are going to do this…it’s better than blowing it off…I also learned that the hard way! Those are three strips of 60 grit paper. I used up all of them!
Here are the results:
And here is a side view:
I have to say that I was very impressed with how things worked out. Some people use dry-erase markers to see when the entire side or sole is flat. In my case, since there was so much surface dirt and rust, that was not really necessary. I just kept sanding until I got a flat even surface. I dressed it up to 100 grit but stopped it there. Some go up to 220 grit, but I see no real need for that at this point.
I finished up by cleaning up the sole and sides with mineral spirits, wiped that off nicely and applied a paste wax. I used Minwax paste wax and it did a great job. Now on to the plane iron and chip breaker!
-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.