Decided to go with the scary sharp method. Got some high grade wet/dry sandpaper and an angle jig.
Started with 80 grit and worked on that for quite a long time. Got the main bevel down to a single plane and pretty much squared it up as well. The corners were worn down more than the center, so it’s not perfectly square still, still got a bit of a curve, I guess like a jack plane? But when I had it “good enough” I progressed up through 120, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500 and 2000. Probably didn’t need to hit all of those, but on most of them just spent a minute or two. At 2000, I raised the angle a bit and put a secondary bevel on the edge. Then hit the back to remove any burr and went back and forth between those a few times.
How sharp is it? Well, I can count my mustache hairs in the reflection and it passed the shave-your-arm test with flying colors. Sharp enough for this guy.
Here’s some pics of the finished blade. Impressive.
Next, I worked on the chip breaker a bit. Sanded it on a flat surface and worked on getting a tight fit to the blade.
Put it all back together again and retracted the blade, then worked on the sole. There was a small dent on one edge where someone had obviously dropped it at some point, but that ground right down flat immediately. I was a little worried about that at first. Got the area in front of the blade pretty flat and the two sides in back of the blade. I think I could definitely do some more work on that, but I was dying to make some shavings.
Here’s where the sole stands.
Now the final test. Stood a pine board up on edge and went at it…
The thickest shaving there is just over two thousandths. The thinner ones are one thousandth exactly. The blade was set differently for them.
Laid the board down and tried to plane the face. Got some good shavings, but started getting a lot of tearout in all directions. Then noticed the mouth was all clogged. Lots of stuff getting in between the blade and chip breaker. So some more work to do on flattening that.
So not quite done, but I’m pretty amazed with the progress I’ve made so far. I have a couple of other planes, one cheap, one older, not restored, and I’ve never been able to do more than take little divots out of any board I put them on. So to see this one slide along the wood and take out clean shavings on my first try, that was pretty awesome.