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Lapping a Hand Plane

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Forum topic by Manitario posted 01-20-2011 10:33 PM 3974 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Manitario

2402 posts in 2347 days


01-20-2011 10:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane

I just inherited a couple of hand planes from my grandfather and am trying to tune them up to get into the magical world of hand planes. I’m just curious what is the best way to lap the soles? The planes I inherited have been heavily used over the years and the soles are scratched and almost certainly no longer flat. I have seen a number of different ways that people use, from using abrasive powder on a glass plate to using a belt sander to using hand files.
Any suggestions or comments on what has worked for people?
As well, there is a small amount rust on the cap iron and cutting iron for on of the planes. Has anyone had any success using some of the advertised liquid rust remover or is my best bet to use a wire brush to remove the rust?
Thanks!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil


11 replies so far

View DonH's profile

DonH

494 posts in 2282 days


#1 posted 01-20-2011 10:54 PM

Hi Manitario

I would suggest you obtain a flat surface (MDF stair tread would work and be cheap too) put adhesive backed sandpaper on it and some mineral oil and away you go. I would suggest starting at 180 grit and work your way up to around 400 grit. Make sure the iron is installed and tightened up to working pressure (just over finger tight). This will ensure the plane body is conforming to its working shape.

For rust removal WD40 or any appropriate commercial product should work – I use 0000 steel wool to apply it and work out the rust. The result is a nice finish with smoot transitions from any painted areas to the bare metal.

Good luck!!!

Don

-- DonH Orleans Ontario

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DonH

494 posts in 2282 days


#2 posted 01-20-2011 10:57 PM

One additional comment

The plane iron should have the back flattened by the same method you flatten the sole. Once that is done, flatten it again on your 1000 grit stone and work through the grits to your finest stone – now you can sharpen it.

Make sure your stones are flat as well – there are various ways to achieve that but I suggest you check out robcosman.com and look at some of his videos. To make a blade sharp it has to be flat and the stone or other material used must also be flat. This is an often overlooked point.

Don

-- DonH Orleans Ontario

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2436 days


#3 posted 01-20-2011 10:58 PM

Evapo-rust will tackle the rust with no problem.

Don’t assume the sole is not flat just because it is old and well used. If your grandfather flattened them, they may still be flat. Check it out with a known flat surface… or a known straight edge.

If it needs flattening, I’d use wet dry sandpaper stuck to a known flat surface (glass, granite surface plate, table saw wing, jointer bed…) Be sure that the frog (the thing that holds the blade) is secured in place with the blade and chip breaker all locked in too, just retract the blade so it is not protruding. Cast iron flexes a bit so it is important to have the body be under the normal tension it will be experiencing while you are flattening it.

If it is significantly out of flat, use a belt sander belt cut open and adheared to a known flat surface. The extra length will allow you take longer strokes while flattening.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2158 days


#4 posted 01-20-2011 11:04 PM

I have nothing to add to the above. It’s exactly what I do, however, I use a piece of marble windowsill instead of the MDF; use dilute Murphy’s Oil Soap instead of mineral oil; and use an electrolysis tank and PB blaster/wire brush for rust removal. But the idea remains exactly the same-ultraflat surface and increasing grits. Plan to spend a good bit of time lapping the back of the iron. If it’s too pitted, you may want to opt for a replacement blade. Don’s right that a dished stone will prevent you from getting the edge you want. Personally, I’d stay far away from belt sanders and especially files (except for maybe taking down a peaked ding).

Welcome to the wonderful world of planes!

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

View Broglea's profile

Broglea

677 posts in 2555 days


#5 posted 01-20-2011 11:22 PM

Rob – That’s some good advice you’ve been given. I don’t really have anything to add. The process of restoring a plane can be just as satisfying as using a well tuned plane. Have fun.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2435 days


#6 posted 01-21-2011 12:46 AM

Only thing I could add is to be sure and work through the grits. If you start out too fine, like with 400 grit, you will get frustrated with the slow process. I start with 150, go to 220, then 300, 400, then 600 to 800 and finish on 1200. It only takes about 2 or 3 minutes on each grit once you have your edge angle and flat back defined. I don’t use a stone at this point, I just lap it on a leather strop band on an expanding rubber wheel I borrowed from my jewelry manufacturing process, everyone has their own little tricks. But the main thing is, if you start too fine, or skip over some steps, it can take hours to get the same results you could have gotten in about 15 or 20 minutes.

A jig or fixture to hold the iron (blade) at a consistant angle when you start to work on the edge is a good thing to have. I got one at Woodcrafter for about $10 and I really like it. I have done this without a guide for years, but the consistancy really speeds the process up.

Good luck.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2436 days


#7 posted 01-21-2011 02:40 AM

Bertha, that’s interesting about the murphy’s oil soap…. is there a reason you prefer it?

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View steopa's profile

steopa

60 posts in 2254 days


#8 posted 01-21-2011 11:13 PM

Hey Rob, not sure if you saw it, but the latest Woodcraft magazine (which showed up in my mailbox today) has “Put Grandpa’s handplanes back to work – page 26” on the cover. I haven’t checked out the article, but seemed right up your alley.

-- Steopa

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7152 posts in 2378 days


#9 posted 01-22-2011 01:53 AM

FYI—Found black granite flooring tiles at HD for ~$4.50

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2435 days


#10 posted 01-22-2011 05:58 AM

Mike, I use those 12” x 12” black granite tiles myself. Best surface I’ve found for $5.00.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2402 posts in 2347 days


#11 posted 01-22-2011 06:21 AM

Thanks for the tips. I have one of those black granite tiles from HD that I use to sharpen my chisels on, it possibly was the best thing I’ve ever gotten from HD for $5. Lapping the cutting irons has been the relatively easy part so far; it is lapping the sole of the planes that I’m not looking forward to, as some preliminary work showed me that this is going to be a lot of work. Crank49; you’re right about not using fine grits to start; I tried starting with 220 grit and realized that I’d be lapping for months.
Steopa: thanks for the heads-up; I’ll have to check the article out.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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