Sharpening help...slanted blade

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Forum topic by bbasiaga posted 06-02-2015 07:52 AM 854 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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731 posts in 1418 days

06-02-2015 07:52 AM

If you have seen any of my blog series on restoring a hand plane, you will know I am not an expert sharpener. I am to the point now where I need to address the blade.

Aside from being dull, the problem with the blade as-found was that the left side is longer than the right side. I worked this with a home made angle guide and improved it, but apparently not enough. Though I was able to get it sharp enough to cut a nice shaving and leave a smooth surface, the left side is still longer. It therefore cuts before the right hand side of the blade engages. I can angle the blade enough in the plane to get the right side to cut, but the angle is somewhat extreme.

Since the left side is longer, it also cuts deeper than the right, and after a few dozen passes a significant bevel occurs.

So, what is the best way to get the edge straight? I believe my angle guide is not helping, because I when I made it (it is just an angled piece of wood) I set the angle based on having the whole bevel of the blade flat against the reference surface. I don’t have a grinder, nor do I feel like that is the best answer. Its late, and I can’t figure out what to try next.

What say you, Jocks?


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

9 replies so far

View emart's profile


416 posts in 2051 days

#1 posted 06-02-2015 09:11 AM

a vertical belt sander with the right jig will fix that in seconds. What I do is I grind the end of the blade flat first before i sharpen it so it will have a better chance of being straight when I’m done. you can buy the home/hobby version of those machines up for dirt cheap on craigslist. Do not trust the tables if it is a craftsman or other cheap brand instead make your own. another option is to take it to a local blade sharpener most can do this sort of thing in a few minutes. if someone does lawnmower blades or other outdoorsey type tools they can help you easily and cheaply.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View rwe2156's profile


2126 posts in 904 days

#2 posted 06-02-2015 10:25 AM

You have to somehow regrind the blade square.

It will be alot harder without a grinder. Don’t you know someone?
If you try hollow grinding your bevels, it will be worth the investment.

You could try a coarse grit stone or sandpaper but it will be a long process.
You have to regrind at 90 degrees and hold iron vertically don’t try to follow the bevel.
Once you get a square iron, then regrind the bevel and sharpen.

Are you honing freehand or using a honing guide?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JayT's profile


4686 posts in 1634 days

#3 posted 06-02-2015 11:34 AM

Here’s what I would do to straighten an

  • Mark a line across the back of the iron with a square and a Sharpie
  • Using a file, square up the edge. Don’t worry about the bevel, just file the iron as square as you can in all directions. There will be a tapered flat on the cutting end when you are done with this step.
  • Sharpen the bevel on your coarse stone or sandpaper, checking frequently as you go. You’ll be able to quickly see if you start to deviate from the marker line, even if sharpening freehand, as you watch the flat section disappear.
  • Finish sharpening and honing.

Many of the planes I’ve restored have had irons that were sharpened unevenly and these steps seem to work best. The key is separating the steps of squaring the edge and sharpening—no matter if doing it by hand or with a grinder. When trying to do both at once, I inevitably end up frustrated.

Good luck

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 2782 days

#4 posted 06-02-2015 12:29 PM

FWIW, I agree with Jay. It is MUCH easier to get a square edge and then worry about the bevel. If you (the OP) are near Albany, NY, you’re welcome to come over and get some help.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View bbasiaga's profile


731 posts in 1418 days

#5 posted 06-02-2015 04:00 PM

Thanks Gents. I have a disc sander with a flat table. I’m going to give that a go first. If not, my brother has a vertical belt sander.

Turns out grinding was the right answer! I’ll give it a try.

I am in NW Indiana. But if it gets bad enough over here I might still knock on your door Dave!


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View bandit571's profile


14085 posts in 2106 days

#6 posted 06-02-2015 04:21 PM

Just ONE corner is off? I have had some come through the shop looking like ~ Or, both corners stick out more than the middle, like a reverse camber….

Square to mark a new square line across….mark it with a black Sharpie, and mark it on the non-bevel face of the iron. You can see the line better. Have a bowl of water as close to the grinder as you can get. When your finger say the steel is getting too warm for them….DUNK the blade. Not a quick dunk, let it soak a bit, no rush is there?

Grinder will leave a hollow in the edge. And a wire edge, to boot. next steps is to remove most of the hollow, and the wire edge. That is either a trip on the sandpaper ( I use a beltsander & Guide) or coarse stones ( 600 grit)
Be sure to keep the water handy if the belt/disc sander is used. It WILL get hot. Get the edge as sharp as these tools will allow. Next, go to the auto paint section, get a pack of wet&dry sandpapers, variety pack. from 1000 to 2500 grit. That oil stone? Still has oil on it? Great! Plop the 1000 grit down on the stonemush around in the oil a bit. Then a few drops on the grit itself. Now you are ready to hone the new edge. Hone both the bevel side and the flat side, until a wire edge goes away, change out to the next higher grit, repeat…AFTER you have wiped the iron clean. Continue until the 2.5K grit is done. So are you. Install the new iron in the plane, and take it for a test drive…

I could read a paper through that shaving. Used all the above steps. This iron was rounded badly, oppisite of hollow ground. Got the bevel back to flat, so the edge hit the wood BEFORE the middle of the bevel did.

Clear as mud, right? I operate my sharpening on a K.I.S.S. Mode. need the cash for other things beside some machine to do this for me. Plus, I doubt if Lee Valley would sharpen them for me….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View hhhopks's profile


645 posts in 1801 days

#7 posted 06-02-2015 07:33 PM

What size plane?

How straight and square is relative. Put a square on it and see if you can see any light. Make sure the blade is straight too. You don’t want a square wavy blade.

For a smoother plane blade:
After getting done with the grinder/belt sander….etc and polishing the back, I would start with what is perceived to be a square blade and go through the honing process. Because I am not a skilled sharpener, the honing process on the bevel side can leave my blade out of square even if I started out with a square blade. Since I have start using a blade honing jig. It keeps the blade much more square with a sharp straight edge. I could then round off the corners as desired.

Another thing to consider is how parallel is your chip breaker mounted on to the blade? You may cheat a bit by intentionally misaligned the two parts to compensate the slightly out of squared blade.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View bbasiaga's profile


731 posts in 1418 days

#8 posted 06-02-2015 08:26 PM

This is a block plane.

I held the side of the iron against my engineer’s square, and then pushed it up until I could just see the low point (right side) of the blade above the arm of the square. I hit it with the sharpie, and then used a razor blade to establish a square, straight line. I then laid it flat on the table of my disc sander and worked it down until it was as straight as I could get it.

Lots of sandpaper and elbow grease later, I had gotten the flat created by doing this ground away. I flattened the back and honed the bevel at successive grits, stopping on my 6000grit water stone. It is now straight enough that I can get an even gap as compared to the mouth of the plane. It passes the fingernail test, but not the paper test. I suppose I could work it on the stones more and see, but it is at least better!


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Aj2's profile


634 posts in 1221 days

#9 posted 06-02-2015 09:48 PM

I’m a freehand shapener, I keep track of the squareness of the blade by just holding it up to a light and looking at the back of the blade,Your eyes are more precision than you think and can spot the differance.Try it and confirm with your square.Aj

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