#5 hand plane blade advice needed

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Forum topic by aurora posted 11-17-2010 12:22 AM 2624 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View aurora's profile


228 posts in 2669 days

11-17-2010 12:22 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane blade plane blade

planing some very old timbers (maple) with my vintage bailey #5 and it’s a slow process, ... very hard wood. after sharpening, blade removes material nicely, but seems to lose its razor edge fairly quickly forcing me into a bull work operation of removing material. i am taking a fairly low (unaggressive, thin shavings) depth of cut. this plane usually makes short work of softer woods but is giving me quite a workout with the maple.

#1 does anyone know type of steel and hardness of a 40’s bailey blade ?

#2 is an after market blade A2 cryogenically hardened hock the best blade for the job or do you have any other suggestions.

#3 is it worth it doing the aftermarket chipbreaker with the blade.

thanks in advance for your advice


11 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1470 posts in 2226 days

#1 posted 11-17-2010 12:38 AM

You say your planing timbers, what state is the wood in? Sharpening is a big part of using handplane and will be required frequently. Aftermarket irons can be really good. I have tried others but I still have all origional irons in mine. I can see in some situations where just replacing the cap iron can be beneficial but in most cases I would change both irons if I was doing any changing at all. You may try a #6 simply for the mass. I find myself using a #6 where one may typically use a #5. Can t tell you much as you did not allow much info. on the condition of your material or your plane. I will add that if you really have a badly tuned plane or technique,replacing the irons will not give you much advantage. JB

View Chris 's profile


1877 posts in 3408 days

#2 posted 11-17-2010 12:47 AM

I have used my #5 for that type of operation a fair bit. My first question:

What is the bevel angle of the blade? You might try it at a steeper angle..

Also, is it the original blade or a replacement like a Hock blade?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Eric_S's profile


1550 posts in 2612 days

#3 posted 11-17-2010 12:56 AM

I purchased an aftermarket HOCK chipbreaker. Its as thick as the blade and looks pretty much like a smaller one with a slight crown. It made a huge difference for me. However, with the HOCK High carbon blade & chipbreaker paired together, I had to file the mouth open to accept it. If you don’t mind doing that then its worth it.

Maple is tough and the HOCK blade made a huge difference over the regular Stanley #5 mine had. Kept the edge much longer with the maple, although maple will still dull it more than some other woods.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View paratrooper34's profile


865 posts in 2369 days

#4 posted 11-17-2010 01:23 AM

An aftermarket blade is worth the money, no doubt about that. I have one aftermarket that is an A2 for a #5 I use on a shooting board. That blade takes A LOT of effort to sharpen. It is worth it, but be aware they are HARD.

Do these old timbers have any dirt or crud on the surfaces? If they do, they will definitely shorten the life of the edge on your blade. Also, are you using a camber in your blade? A #5 jack plane should have a decent camber in it for quick and efficient stock removal. Plus, as mentioned by other posters, maple is a tough wood. Good luck!

-- Mike

View swirt's profile


2105 posts in 2389 days

#5 posted 11-17-2010 06:00 AM

You are planing timbers, which as has been mentioned can be dirty. Bad for plane blade sharpness.

You mentioned you were taking thin shavings. Are you taking thin shavings because you are thinking they are easier on the blade? if so, you may want to rethinnk the practice, Blades dull from cutting fibers, not realted to the thickness of the cut. If you have the iron set coarse and you remove say 1/16” in one pass, it cuts the same number of fibers as if you take one pass set to 1/48” But since you have to make 3 times as many passes to get to the same depth you wearing out the sharp edge 3 times faster. To make this worse, the dirty grit is more concentrated in the first thin layer than it is in deeper layers, so if you make your first cuts deep, not only will you get to where you want to be faster, but you wil get below the dirt, so your sharp blade should last longer.

-- Galootish log blog,

View dbhost's profile


5589 posts in 2649 days

#6 posted 11-17-2010 06:36 AM

FWIW, I have had the pleasure of using a pre WW2 Stanley #5 a few years back that was fitted with a Hock iron and chipbreaker. (No idea what happened to the originals, my friend got the plane at a garage sale minus those pieces). While 1/16” is a bit more than I want to try to slice off at once with a plane, it might be fine for you. I just don’t trust my technique that much to not create a huge gouge instead of a clean cut…

If those timbers you are talking about have any sort of dirt or grit on, or in them, get them CLEAN with a pressure washer and then dry them BEFORE trying to plane them. The dirt and grit in old lumber is really bad on things like plane irons and saw blades…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 2282 days

#7 posted 11-17-2010 06:26 PM

I just got done building a new workbench from hard maple. (I plan to post the project soon) It was very difficult to plane. It dulled my stock Bailey blade quickly, and left some bad tear-out. Probably it’s a lack of skill more than anything. However, I recently read something about Chris Schwarz saying that hand planing hard maple was something he disliked. I can’t find the quote. The point is, if a guy with his passion and skill for hand tools finds hand planing maple to be hard or unpleasant, you might be doing the as well as can be expected.

Good luck

View TheDane's profile


4930 posts in 3080 days

#8 posted 11-17-2010 07:42 PM

I replaced the original blades and chip-breakers in my #3, #5, and #7 Stanley planes with Hock blades & chip breakers.

The Hock blades are much harder, and hold their edge much longer.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View swirt's profile


2105 posts in 2389 days

#9 posted 11-17-2010 08:08 PM

dbhost, Sorry the 1/16” was just for ease of seeing the math not an actual depth recommendation. Three passes a 1/48” is the same as 1/16” is math I can handle in my head … if the desired depth was 1/32 I’m not so good at dividing that by 3 in my head :)

My point aside from the specific numbers was just to say if the timbers need cleaning up, the deeper cut will get you there in less time and with less wear on the blade than lots of thin cuts.

-- Galootish log blog,

View aurora's profile


228 posts in 2669 days

#10 posted 11-17-2010 11:25 PM

fellas, thanks for the help

swirt -timbers were brushed down and hosed off, allowed to dry. there could still be grit trapped/abrasive in the fibers, but i’m not sure that’s the problem. i hit the timbers with a narrow bladed scrub plane to knock down the high spots and clean them up prior to using my #5. feels more like the hardness of the stock that i am trying to plane that is giving me fits.

Chris – its the original blade. i’ll have to check the blade sharpening angle, but i think i honed it to between 25 to 30 degrees.

Eric – my next question was the mouth size. i was hoping NOT to file it open. is that really required for the thicker hock blade and chipbreaker ?

paratrouper – you make a great suggestion, no camber on my blade, guess i really should do that… always worried if i screwed up the grinding, then i’d lose the blade. i guess i have no reason to hesitate now as i will probably get a new harder replacement blade anyway. the ancient scrub plane that i use for roughing is cambered and does a very nice job.

View Eric_S's profile


1550 posts in 2612 days

#11 posted 11-17-2010 11:28 PM

John, with just the HOCK blade but factory chipbreaker I didn’t have to file it. It was only when I used BOTH the HOCK blade and HOCK chipbreaker that I had too on two of my planes. Here is the e-mail that Chris sent me, and it really was easy to do once you get over the fact that you are going to permanently modify your plane.


Sorry to be tardy in my response.

The solution here is pretty simple: File the front opening of the mouth. I do this all the time and it works like a charm.

The best way to do this is to first estimate how much metal you need to remove from the front of the mouth, then mark a straight line on the sole of the plane indicating where you want the mouth to be.

Clamp the plane in a vise with its toe pointing toward the floor. Then use a smooth file to open the mouth down to the line.

Cast iron files easily, so this should be a five-minute job.

Then see if the mouth is open enough and repeat the process if necessary. Filing the mouth can produce a metal burr on the front edge of the mouth. You can remove that with a little fine sandpaper or a small file.

Hope this helps.

Christopher Schwarz

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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