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Forum topic by TMcG posted 01-29-2011 01:25 AM 1192 views 3 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TMcG

191 posts in 2468 days


01-29-2011 01:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane sharpening

I’m afraid I’m suffering from a bit of information overload on this subject so thought I might ask a couple of clarifying (hopefully) questions.

I was fortunate enough to receive 3 LN planes for Xmas and have been doing a lot of reading on setup, sharpening and use, as you would imagine. I also bought a copy of Handtool Essentials, which is a really easy and clear read except for the sharpening section, which is also an easy and well articulated description of all the various techniques but it doesn’t actually relate any of the sections to each other.

So here’s where I’m a bit confused, the first section on sharpening is quite simple and lays out the process/method for sharpening a plane iron to a square and sharp edge.

A little further on, there is another section that talks about having a curve to the iron that improves the cut and reduces planing marks etc.., it actually talks about multiple angles for various scenario’s.

So does that imply that you should have a “library” of differently ground plane irons that you install for the different scenarios ?

If so, given I only have one set of irons for now, is the recommendation to go square or curved ?

Thanks
tony

-- http://wood.mcgivern.org


11 replies so far

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#1 posted 01-29-2011 01:41 AM

i think you’re talking about cambering. You can certainly get multiple blades per plane if you want, but the way I see understand it, there are only 4 types of planes you’d consider cambering, and they are the standard bench planes:

1. scrub plane – definitely needs a heavy camber. you wouldnt ever have one without it.
2. jack plane – could be cambered, not necessary.
3. jointer plane – same. I dont have a jointer, but use my jack plane like one. I prefer it cambered because it makes edge jointing much easier. This would be a pretty light camber though.
4. smoothing plane – this is one that I think should be ever so slightly cambered too. the right camber will make it so that shaving feather out on the edges but dont leave a noticeable dip in the surface of the wood. this will leave the surface smooth and prevent ridges.

does that help a bit? While you certainly could have multiple blades per plane, if you have an assortment of planes that are appropriate for the work (ie, you’re not just using a jack plane for multiple tasks) then it shouldnt be necessary. finally, the only one that will ever really look cambered is the scrub plane.

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#2 posted 01-29-2011 01:41 AM

which planes did you get anyway?

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TMcG

191 posts in 2468 days


#3 posted 01-29-2011 02:29 AM

Aaron,

You’re right, camber is what I’m referring to, had a bit of a block when writing the post.

I got the 3 plane set, the Low Angle Jack, the 4 1/2 Smoothing and the Low Angle Block, so we’re clearly not talking about the Block plane.

So from what you say above, the Jack would be square and the Smoothing with a very slight camber ?

tony

-- http://wood.mcgivern.org

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#4 posted 01-29-2011 02:47 AM

ok:

as far as the jack goes, I dont know too much about low angle planes. I gather that the low angle is especially helpful on end grain, and that is what their intent is. this low angle jack would do very well on a shooting board. if that’s the case and the intended use, then it shouldnt have a camber.

the block is similar. it depends on what you are using it for. I have a very slight camber on my block planes too – it just makes it so much easier to adjust without having to worry about a corner digging in.

I would highly recommend a camber on the smoother.

Again though, some people dont camber any of them (except the scrub of course). one thing about the low angle jack is that it is bevel-up, which means that it becomes very versatile in terms of swapping out blades. you can have the blade+bed combined angle really low or quite high depending how you grind the blade. So it can be really low angle or not. does that make sense?

hopefully that isnt confusing you more :-) In any event, none of these would have a high camber at all – barely visible. so its up to you and will not be irreversible should you decide that you dont like it.

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Gofor

470 posts in 3254 days


#5 posted 01-29-2011 04:26 AM

To camber or not: probably get as many opinions on this as you would about who really killed JFK. LOL

A camber is used to remove more depth quickly without leaving the edge ridge from the cut. It results in a slightly scalloped surface, which then requires flattening, using either a straight-honed iron (usually slightly rounded on the corners) or a scraper. So, it depends on what you are going to use the particular plane for.

Before trying to camber a low-angle bevel-up iron, you may want to read this treatise on why and how: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/WoodworkTechniques/TheSecretToCamberinBUPlaneBlades.html

As for a “library” of plane irons, you will find me a strong advocate. I have both cambered and straight irons for my traditional planes. For my lone bevel-up Jack, I have three irons straight ground to different degrees. A set of cambered may be in the future.

If I am using my jointers for flattening a large surface, I want to get it close first, so use the cambered irons. I then finish it with the straight irons. For jointing and edge, I use the flat iron, as it is impossible for me to get a straight and square edge for panel glue ups with a cambered iron.

My traditional jacks and smoother use the same irons, so I have both for whichever task I need them for. I also have a radically cambered iron that I throw in the jack to use as a scrub iron when starting on a rough milled or severely twisted/warped board.

I have three irons of different bevels for the low-angle jack, which gets use also as a jointer and a smoother. The low angle bevel cuts quick and easy through soft and straight-grained woods. The york pitch iron holds the edge longer for larger jobs, and does better in moderately hard woods that have grain changes or knotty areas. The high-pitch gets used for hard or tear-out prone woods like quarter-sawn white oak, curly maple, etc. As it is the only plane I have that will deal with the difficult woods, the irons I now have are straight-ground, because that will get me to to the final flat surface.

My block planes are all straight ground.

If the irons are interchangeable, I would grind one for a camber, and one straight. If not, I would grind them all straight until you acquire a second set.

If the blades are the traditional stanley style 2” width, you may want to go to Home Depot if you have one near you, and pick up a couple cheap buck bros irons (about $3 each). I will take an hour or more to flatten the tool marks out of the backs and to regrind the bevels, but are a cheap way to experiment with bevels, cambers, etc; knowledge to than be applied to a better quality iron.

JMTCW

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#6 posted 01-29-2011 04:50 AM

gofor sounds like he has way more experience than i do with all of them. i’m still pretty new at this :-)

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2465 days


#7 posted 01-29-2011 05:16 AM

Just one more data point for you:

Even a straight grind will need to have a little bit of rounding on the corners so you don’t leave gouges along the side of the stroke.

Go with a fairly straight grind with a little bit of rounding on the corners at first and as you use you will settle into what is comfortable for you.

As you acquire more planes, it is nice to have several at hand with different profiles to select from as you are working. Generally, the more camber, the more wood you will take out. Sometimes that is what you want. A scrub plane has quite a bit. It is made for hogging out wood fast.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View TMcG's profile

TMcG

191 posts in 2468 days


#8 posted 01-29-2011 04:15 PM

Fantastic ! Thank you all very much, it is actually quite a clear picture now.

So is the traditional Stanley 2” width actually 2” or the 2 3/8” that the LN blades are supplied at ?

-- http://wood.mcgivern.org

View Gofor's profile

Gofor

470 posts in 3254 days


#9 posted 01-30-2011 02:30 AM

First: Ditto what David said. Very good point about rounding the corners.

Stanley uses the 2” width for the traditional #4 smoother and #5 Jack; and 2 3/8” for the #4 1/2, #5 1/2, #6, #7 and #8 Jointers. The 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 were wider, heavier versions of their traditional brothers. The block planes had a different designed iron that is 1 3/8” wide. Different block planes had different slots, so make sure any new one for it matches the design you have.

From what I just read on the LN site for the Joinery set, you have 3 different irons, and they seem to be a bit thicker than the traditional irons. Thicker is good as it helps reduce “chatter” which is when the blade flexes as it shaves the wood. Sorry I did not check this out before my previous post.

A traditional 2” may work in the low-angle jack, but will only be 1/2 as thick. Due to the different bedding, I would probably stay with the thick irons for the bevel-up plane. But if you can find cheaper ones to play with, it won’t hurt to try it. Carry your blade with you when you shop to make sure they are the same shape and cutout. If the blade won’t stay secure, or chatters when you use it, go back to the original.

A traditional 2 3/8” should work on the #4 1/2 smoother. The one they supply is 0.140” thick and traditional Stanley is only 0.095. Again, my experience is thicker is better, but its also more expensive. Again, match what you would buy against the one you have.

Hopefully someone else who owns the LNs will chime in with their experience using different irons.

If I am not mistaken, the LN irons are A2 steel (top quality and hardness). Cheaper blades will be easier to hone, but will not hold an edge near as long. If you want the stock LN blade but want it a little softer to make it easier to hone, specify the O-1 steel. The Buck Bros blades, if you try them, will be close to O-1, so would be easier to regrind bevels, etc.

There are several suppliers of O-1 and A-2 plane irons (i.e, Lie Nielsen, Lee Valley, Ron Hock, etc) If ordering new ones, make sure the ones you order are the correct design and width for your planes. If in doubt, e-mail or call the company.

Sorry for any confusion I caused.

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

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TMcG

191 posts in 2468 days


#10 posted 01-30-2011 02:37 AM

Hey, not at all, really appreciate the advice/input

Bought a couple of the Bucks Bros blades today at HD, at a grand total of < $6 they are worth it just to practice sharpening whilst I get a spare set of LN irons.

-- http://wood.mcgivern.org

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

892 posts in 2419 days


#11 posted 01-30-2011 03:24 AM

TMcG, Hantool Essentials is a great book, filled an awesome amount of info. I read the book when I first got started with serious hand tool usage (well, serious for me). The sharpening section shows many different types of of sharpening techniques. And as you pointed out, it shows sharpening plane irons both straight and cambered. Most planes benefit from having a cambered plane. However, others need to be straight. For example, I have two jointers, and one is cambered and one not. This is so I can use the one with the straight blade for edge jointing and the one with the cambered blade for face jointing. Additionally, my shooting board plane has a straight blade. A cambered blade for that use would not work well for the intended purpose. I also have a straight blade in my block plane. Anyway, both sharpening methods are in there because each technique has its place. For the planes you got, I would have a very slight camber on the smoother, a more defined camber on the jack, and no camber on the block plane. Oh, and enjoy your new planes, those are very nice models you got!

-- Mike

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