need advice on bevel grinding

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Forum topic by Jon_in_BK posted 01-13-2011 05:18 PM 1623 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2718 days

01-13-2011 05:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

Hi, I’m just getting started in WW and recently acquired an old hand plane. I’ve gotten myself some sharpening equipment and watched a whole bunch of videos on tuning up old hand planes. I thought I was ready.

But when I got the hand plane the bevel on the iron was totally messed up. It looked like it had 3 or 4 different bevels and been sharpened incorrectly a hundred times over the years. I put it in the jig and got to work, but could not get it right. It seems like I need to grind a whole new bevel and just start fresh.

My question is: Is there a reliable inexpensive mail-order grinding service where I can send the iron? I’ve located a couple grinding/sharpening services in my area but they do not primarily serve woodworking and I’m not sure if I trust them to do it right.

Any feedback is appreciated.

8 replies so far

View benfullohell's profile


14 posts in 2717 days

#1 posted 01-13-2011 05:31 PM

might be cheaper just to buy a new plane or a new blade for it. what size and model is it?

View chrisstef's profile


17426 posts in 3032 days

#2 posted 01-13-2011 05:31 PM

If the existing bevel is way out of whack you are for sure going to have to grind away it to get it back to an acceptable angle, then on to whichever method works for you for sharpening and honing. Im sure that you could find a jig or make a jig that would attach to a bench grinder to regrind your desired angle.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#3 posted 01-13-2011 05:51 PM

FYI, I reground most of my blades as part of a clean-them-up process using nothing but coarse sandpaper (100grit) and a honing jig:

today I have a small 6” porter cable grinder that I use for metal work, and to fix a bevel I’d probably use it to speed up the process, although as I stated this can be done with sand paper, and a bit of patience. (FYI, I also trued up the sole of a couple of planes using sand paper – and that takes much longer than just setting a bevel on a blade.)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2906 days

#4 posted 01-13-2011 06:37 PM

I also have done most all of my plane iron grinding with sandpaper attached to a piece of plate glass.

What I have found most difficult with some of the old blades is they are often very out of square and no where near flat on the back. When you grind it make sure the edge of the blade is square. This will make all the difference in the world. You will also want to make sure the back is as flat as you can get it. It can take a while if the blade was rough but just keep going with it.

If you cant get it to work I would suggest maybe just buying a new blade or even a different used blade. A lot of people sell old plane irons on ebay. I don’t know that it would be worth sending off to get it done. Might be cheaper to find another new or used blade.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#5 posted 01-13-2011 07:00 PM

All the above comments are right on, in my opinion. I prefer sandpaper mounted to a marble window sill with spray adhesive. I load up a few of these cheap slabs for days when I’m lazy. I keep 80 – 2000 grit at the ready. With a really rough plane blade, I’ll start with flattening the back of the blade. If it proves too pitted after some flattening, don’t waste your time on the primary bevel; the pits will eventually enter your cutting edge after repeated sharpenings. Save it as a keepsake. If you want to save some time, start your primary bevel on a wet-grinder & establish a hollow grind at your desired primary. Then take it to the sanding platform (glass, marble, stones, etc.), jig it (I use the cheap $12 grey jig) & re-start the primary bevel work. My early mistakes revolved around not jigging the blade perfectly square (you may have to flatten your jig, as odd as that is). My later failures involved not paying proper attention to the back of the blade or stopping short of a wire edge. I have recent failures that I won’t go into:)

DON’T GIVE UP! Handplaning could change your life; did mine. If nothing else, it’s cheaper than therapy. As much as I love early Baileys and gorgeous sweethearts, let’s be honest here: The new blades are thicker, flatter, stronger, hold an edge longer, and are just generally superior. They’re just not prettier, in my opinion. Dont’ even get me started on the new fat chipbreakers. If I was early in my plane wrangling, I would fork the $$ & get a nice new blade/chipbreaker combo & spend whatever time it takes to tune both. A warning, however, once you succeed, there’s no going back.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Jon_in_BK's profile


8 posts in 2718 days

#6 posted 01-13-2011 07:18 PM

Thanks for the advice so far. I do not have a grinder. Nor am I ready to spend the money on one. I do have the sandpaper and plate glass sharpening set-up from Rockler. But I need to regrind a new primary bevel.

Is the consensus not to bother re-grinding and spend the money on a new iron?

I’m trying to get this plane back in working order without spending a lot of money. The plane is labeled “Merit Tools” and it appears to be roughly equivalent to a Stanley #4 (I think). It’s just over 9 inches long.


View swirt's profile (online now)


2782 posts in 2998 days

#7 posted 01-13-2011 10:46 PM

You can re-grind a primary bevel with 80-100 grit paper and a roller jig. It won’t even take that long.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#8 posted 01-13-2011 10:59 PM

Swirt’s right. When using very low grit papers, I like to mix a little Murphy’s oil soap in water & spray it on the paper to keep the heat down & my fingers from fatiguing. Just don’t forget to polish the back! I played with a rusty old Merit once & I should warn you that the back was rife with deep machining swirls, much like the low quality Stanleys. I have to take frequent breaks when I’m muscling one of these irons into shape, lest I end up 100-gritting my knuckles. Best of luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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