Hand Planes #11: Blade prep, freehand

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Blog entry by dsb1829 posted 01-20-2009 04:37 AM 1615 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Taking inventory Part 11 of Hand Planes series Part 12: Sentimental plane restoration complete »

I have tried a few different methods over the last few months to flatten blades. Here is my go-to method for flattening the back of a new blade.

Adhere some sandpaper to a flat surface. I prefer 3M super77 and a granite surface plate for the substrate.

Use 60-80g until you have a uniform scratch pattern. I prefer Norton 3X 80g at this phase. It is a fast cutter and the paper is thick, so it is easy to install and remove from the granite.

Next comes the 220g w/d. Generally I can get away with using it dry. Again, go for a uniform scratch pattern. I typically try to rotate 90 degrees from the previous pattern, so I know when I have removed all previous scratches.

Onto 400g w/d. Again, remove all previous scratches. I will start to do random motion at this point and lighter pressure once the 220g scratches are worked out. At this point you will begin to pick up a mirror finish.

Next comes 1000g w/d. You know the routine. Remove the scratches. At this time you will have a decent mirror polish going. It is about equivalent to my hard black Arkansas stone.

At this point I will go back and work over the primary bevel. On a new Hock blade or a previously prepped blade I usually can go to the 400 and back to 1000g.

Black Arkansas back, secondary bevel, then strop using green rouge.

Going freehand and by this routine doesn’t give as pretty of an edge as going up through 8000g waterstones using an eclipse jig. But you know it is pretty liberating to ditch the training wheels. I have noticed no decline in cut quality or sharpness of the finished blade. This method is also fairly easy to apply to heavily cambered blades, just add a wrist roll to the regime.

At the end of the day I still need more practice. But I am looking forward to the day that I don’t feel attached to a sharpening jig.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

2 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#1 posted 01-20-2009 01:30 PM

Nice work, Doug.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3626 days

#2 posted 01-20-2009 07:36 PM

thanks cj

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

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