Misc. Shop Stuff #9: Pulling an Iron Into Shape

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 10-22-2012 06:48 AM 1557 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Common Chest Handles Part 9 of Misc. Shop Stuff series Part 10: A Stanley #50 in the House! »

Vintage iron on a ‘new’ tool for the shop, decided to take a few pictures as I walked through the ‘sharpening’ of the iron. first step is flattening the back, and that showed me a flaw: A convex back, meaning the sides aren’t flat to the back overall.

After a few hundred strokes on the corse DMT, better but not wonderful. At a point, I moved on and will monitor performance of the tool over time…

Moving to the primary bevel, know that a sharp edge doesn’t reflect light. This one sure did.

Worked it through the grits and raised a burr each time. It’s the ragged edge visible below.

Strop on the iron…

And the chipbreaker…

And the #604C is working just fine!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

11 comments so far

View bluekingfisher's profile


1246 posts in 2485 days

#1 posted 10-22-2012 07:27 AM

Thanks for the tutorial Smitty, great end performance from that old iron, just goes to show what a little hard work and of course knowledge can produce.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10868 posts in 2621 days

#2 posted 10-22-2012 08:17 AM

its not just old irons that gives swett on the forhead
I bought a new plane years ago and cuoldn´t understand why it wuoldn´t work as I wanted it
realy didn´t new anything about how a plane worked and why it was build as it was … :-)
now I know …. lol
it took me twenty hours to handsharpen and hone it … I can use it as a mirror …yeaaa :-)
I had to take 2-3 mm of the back before it was deadflat
I´m glad its only a hobby and don´t have to live of it ….. LOL


View bhog's profile


2235 posts in 2196 days

#3 posted 10-22-2012 11:46 AM

Sweet.I bet it was exciting taking those first shavings with it.What was your first impression of the bedrock design?

Also do you plan to buy any natural beans? ^ WTF

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13826 posts in 2124 days

#4 posted 10-22-2012 11:56 AM

Natural beans ROCK!!!

Thanks, Dennis! You’re right about hobby status. Alot of time goes into these tools that isn’t rewarded by $. :-)

It’s always cool to get a first cut from a new tool. No exception here, of course.

What to make of the BR / first impressions…

- how to remove the frog, as the frog bolts have no slots (i’m a noob)
- I removed the lever cap and iron to adjust the frog, so I could see it was parallel to the mouth
- what’s the hubub about?

At this point it’s the last Bedrock I’ll buy, but it’s way early. We’ll see!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Don W's profile

Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#5 posted 10-22-2012 12:50 PM

Smitty, remove the 2 outside screws behind the frog base.

You can tell if the frog is even with the iron still attached.

Once you see how the frog works, its pretty cool.

You don’t need to completely remove the screws, you’ll see why.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View AnthonyReed's profile


8800 posts in 1946 days

#6 posted 10-22-2012 04:17 PM

“At a point, I moved on…” – I am not sure where it’s obtained but i need to find some of that ability. I can get a little obstinate once set to task which can cause frustration.

Thanks for the post Smitty.

-- ~Tony

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13826 posts in 2124 days

#7 posted 10-22-2012 04:50 PM

I’ve been thinking about that section of the entry, even added and re-wrote it a bit after hitting ‘submit’ last night. There’s a bit more to the story that I should cover.

“The point” at which I moved on centers on the fact that I apply a slight camber to pretty much all of my bench plane irons. Big for the jack, little for the jointer and smoothing planes. But camber nonetheless. So with this iron having some ‘withdrawal’ near the cutting edge, I had a decision to make: keep lapping until it’s all gone, or stop? Because I’m only lapping about an inch from the edge, it’s clear I’m applying some amount of bevel to the back, low slope though it is. I don’t wish to apply a back bevel at all, so when 90+% of the iron’s edge was ‘engaged,’ another reality was considered: the chipbreaker.

As long as the chipbreaker is able to make contact across the whole of the iron (no light visible when the screw is in place), no debris is inserted and planing goes well at tight tolerances. So at ‘the point’ I stopped lapping on the iron, the breaker’s inside face got a touch-up on the DMTs to ensure flat and straight. When I mated the two, there was light. Figures the iron was not exactly flat; it had some wind to it. A few taps with the plannishing hammer against the bench, and that was resolved too.

So ‘the point’ was only allowed because the convexity reality has zero impact going forward: camber means light outside edges of the iron aren’t in full contact with stuff being worked as much as the middle of the iron, and chipbreaker fitting to ensure no gaps.

I’m not an expert by any means, but like others I’d rather work wood than fettle tools. So when these factors pointed to an ‘all clear,’ I went with it!

Thanks for the comments, Tony!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2657 days

#8 posted 10-22-2012 04:53 PM

I hate when that happens, the convex iron back. When I get that, I’ll flatten it as much as I can and then knock off the corners so that the imperfection is made irrelevant.

I expected the DMT to make short work of that, which sucks. I was looking forward to buying one someday for that reason.

Do you pay any attention to the angle ground on the front of the chip breaker? I don’t know what angle I put on it but I make it a little steeper after reading that Schwarz blog. At least on smoothers.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Don W's profile

Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#9 posted 10-22-2012 05:00 PM

I’ve smacked the back of more than one iron to. It seems to happen more on the later vintage. After the original SW. I’m not sure if it’s because they are thinner, softer or they just came that way.

I try not to just move on, but only because I may be selling the plane. I agree the very edges shouldn’t matter. The #6 I just did took forever. I’d get frustrated, set it down and leave it for a while.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Dave's profile


11409 posts in 2346 days

#10 posted 10-22-2012 11:46 PM

Smitty a great step by step. The photography is great.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View mafe's profile


11215 posts in 2595 days

#11 posted 10-29-2012 06:52 PM

Nothing like a reshaped plane iron!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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