Signs that it's time to sharpen...

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Forum topic by PlaneFacts posted 05-23-2016 01:24 PM 793 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 881 days

05-23-2016 01:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane chisel sharpen hand tools

How do you know when it’s time to sharpen your plane iron or chisel blade?

Specifically, I’m hoping to hear what feedback you get from your tool or the wood via one of the five senses that clues you in that it’s time to break out the sharpening stones.

Can you see the light glinting differently off the blade; does it become appreciably harder to push the plane across the wood or pare cleanly; or anything else you look/listen/feel for.

For what it’s worth, I just started using hand tools and am blessed to have some high quality, brand new bevel edge chisels and a low angle jack plane.

7 replies so far

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1827 days

#1 posted 05-23-2016 01:50 PM

It is harder to push a dull plane and chisel but that’s sometimes hard to judge as different parts of a board will change the amount of pressure needed to do the same work. Also if you wax your plane beds which do make a huge difference as the wax wears off they become harder to push. As a blade dulls it starts to tear the wood fibers instead of slicing them and depending on the wood and type of cut you are taking you might see that as well.

For a plane if you start to see dust instead of shavings it is well past the point where you should have sharpened the iron. For a chisel you want the wood to cut away cleanly and really it should leave a polished surface if the blade is really sharp. If you hit a plane iron or chisel when it just starting to dull usually a couple passes on your finest grit surface of choice is all it takes to get it back to razor sharp.

Hope this helps,
Richard H.

View dbw's profile


207 posts in 1783 days

#2 posted 05-23-2016 02:03 PM

If you hone a micro bevel onto the edge of your blade, the micro bevel will start getting narrower as the blade dulls. The micro bevel will eventually disappear and then you know it’s time to sharpen.

-- measure 3 times, cut once

View rwe2156's profile


3092 posts in 1628 days

#3 posted 05-23-2016 02:14 PM

Feel of the cut, the quality of the cut, effort, and sound.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5072 posts in 4107 days

#4 posted 05-23-2016 02:29 PM

Don’t wax the plane BED, wax the sole.


View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2923 days

#5 posted 05-23-2016 02:34 PM

If you take a really fine cut – and it doesn’t – just mostly grabs, it is time to tune things up. If I do a lot of work with a plane, when I am done I tune it up so the next time I use it, it is ready.

Tuning is not just sharpening, it is also adjusting the blade, chip breaker, polishing the blade (I use a piece of leather glued to a piece of wood with green rouge on it). I only re sharpen if there is a chip in the blade.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Slemi's profile


117 posts in 1688 days

#6 posted 05-23-2016 02:46 PM

It’s simple. When You are no longer satisfied with the planing (chiseling) result.

View PlaneFacts's profile


2 posts in 881 days

#7 posted 05-23-2016 04:56 PM

Thanks everyone for the tips and advice!

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