Is This A Dumb Idea?

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Forum topic by gfadvm posted 10-29-2011 04:02 AM 1135 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13794 posts in 1734 days

10-29-2011 04:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: flattening soles

Could I use my 4×36 stationary belt sander to flatten the soles on hand planes? This just seems too quick and easy vs. rubbing it on sandpaper for hours. Anyone tried this?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

11 replies so far

View jumbojack's profile


1444 posts in 1668 days

#1 posted 10-29-2011 04:22 AM

I would give it a try on a junk plane. i would think a pretty high grit to start.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

3175 posts in 1605 days

#2 posted 10-29-2011 04:34 AM

I do not think I would, I have heard of to many of the plenums are not good enough for that kind of flat work.
You could as Bertha and he would know for sure.

-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View DaleM's profile


952 posts in 2427 days

#3 posted 10-29-2011 04:55 AM

I’ve done it on one plane because it was in such bad shape. It was never flat to begin with from the looks of it. It is a Great Neck Corsair number four sized. I just was careful not to let it heat up much and it worked okay for me. I know unequal heating of cast iron can causing cracking so maybe I just got lucky. I have a large piece of granite that I got free from a local stone cutter and use to flatten my other planes, but wasn’t going to spend all day on a cheap plane. I started to flatten the sides and square them to the sole too, but they were so far out of whack that I gave up on that idea. I guess I’ll never use this one with a shooting board. Bottom line; if it’s a cheap plane that you can live without just in case it cracks, then I say go for it and save some time for something else.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View CharlieM1958's profile


16100 posts in 3262 days

#4 posted 10-29-2011 05:17 AM

I’ve done it several times on planes that were in bad shape. I always go back to my sandpaper-on-granite method for the final flattening, but the belt sander seems to work well as a starting point.

Having said that, I wouldn’t do it with a newer, expensive plane. I’m just talking about rustbucket refurbs.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rance's profile


4196 posts in 2204 days

#5 posted 10-29-2011 05:33 AM

Yes, it can be done. That’s not to say anyone could do it successfully. You don’t want to get it out of square with the side of the plane so don’t be too aggressive. As has been suggested, your sander may not be perfectly flat. Test yours with some stable wood, then check the wood for flatness immediately. Start with higher grits and keep it moving in a circular pattern so as to minimize any problems with sander transferring to the wood/your plane.

No, I’ve not done it but I know of folks who have. It can be accomplished.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View gfadvm's profile


13794 posts in 1734 days

#6 posted 10-30-2011 04:39 AM

Sounds like the consensus is do it by hand. Thanks for the input.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2495 posts in 2481 days

#7 posted 10-30-2011 04:52 AM

I have a 6×48 belt sander and it really doesn’t even put a flat surface on wood. The belts all have a slight flutter to them so I doubt if it would work for the absolute flatness needed for a plane.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Brandon's profile


4145 posts in 1995 days

#8 posted 10-30-2011 05:09 AM

I have a Ryobi 4×36 belt sander. I had a cheap plane (stamped steel frog, etc.) and thought I’d try to flatten its sole on the belt sander, but it didn’t work at all and was uneven. I would not recommend it. :-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View PurpLev's profile


8520 posts in 2692 days

#9 posted 10-30-2011 05:11 AM

you can do that to really rusty/out of shape planes in order to clean them up and knock off high spots quickly, but not as a substitute to the sand paper on flat surface as the belt sanders do not have a flat reference to begin with and cannot produce anything that is truly flat. it can however speed up the process before you lap the soles on a sand paper.

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

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 2102 days

#10 posted 10-30-2011 05:15 AM

I’ve done it before. You can do it for the initial flattening, but still need to do some further lapping with finer grades of paper, but the intitial flattening goes much quicker.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View drfunk's profile


223 posts in 1720 days

#11 posted 10-30-2011 05:26 AM

I personally don’t lap my soles. Did it on a few planes (granite + sandpaper) – not sure it makes enough of a difference to be worth the effort for me – I’d rather refine my technique to the idiosyncrasies of the plane. Did old-timers lap soles or is this a new thing?

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