Blade Cambering

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Forum topic by grego posted 01-12-2012 08:39 PM 1570 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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73 posts in 2581 days

01-12-2012 08:39 PM

I’d like to camber the blade on my smoother, and looking for advice.

Currently I’m I’m sharpening a straight edge on water stones using the Lee Valley guide to do a primary bevel on a 1000 stone and a micro-bevel with an 8000 stone. Then flattening a back-bevel using a ruler on the 8000 stone per Charlesworth.

Santa brought me a camber roller for the Lee Valley guide. Do I just use this on both stones to sharpen each corner, or do I have to grind the corners into a curve first? Do the corner “points” have to disappear altogether and be replaced buy a curve?

I’d appreciate your advice!


8 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4931 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 01-12-2012 08:55 PM

An 8” radius on a jack is normal, but just “breaking” THE CORNERS on a smoother will keep ya from the dreaded plane marks when using a smoother. I’ve done it on my #4C with good results.
Here is a bunch of info.
Probably more than you’ll ever need.


View grego's profile


73 posts in 2581 days

#2 posted 01-12-2012 10:54 PM

Thanks Bill, but bear with me…. what does “breaking the corners” mean? How is it done?

View lysdexic's profile


5254 posts in 2622 days

#3 posted 01-13-2012 05:20 AM

To establish a subtle camber on a smoothing iron you can apply more strokes at the corners using your 1000 grit honing stone and the camber roller…....I’ll use a football field analogy.

take 12 strokes with all finger pressure at an outside corner (goal line)
takes 12 strokes at the other corner (goal line)
take 6 strokes with finger pressure halfway between the corner and the middle of the iron (25 yard line)
take 6 strokes at the other 25 yard line
take 2 to 3 strokes at the 50 yard line

check your camber with a square. you just need a little light showing. Remember you only need to reiieve the corners a few thousands of an inch to avoid plane marks. If you want more camber repeat the above.

Follow up by honing on your 8000 grit stone using the same method.

breaking the corners can be done with a file or passing the very corner of the iron on course sand paper. It doesn’t take much. All it does is round of the corners of the iron show they do not dig in and leave the plane marks.

Hope this helps.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View NateX's profile


98 posts in 2996 days

#4 posted 01-17-2012 08:25 AM

It really doesn’t take much to get the corners eased enough to get rid of the tracks. You can just sort of ride up a little bit on each corer without changing the angle and that will get you the 1/500” you need.

There is a good trick in the October 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking on page 14 for cambering plane blades as well. (I knew I saw it recently, it was in my “chamber of repose”) Its kinda weird, he uses a washer and a wing-nut to tighten the plane iron to a flexible piece of wood through the center slot. He tightens the nut enough to create a slight bow in the iron and then uses a grinder but I imagine this could be done on sand paper or water stones.

Lysdexic’s technique sounds pretty good to me. Just sorta rub off that corner. I think you’ll be surprised how little it takes. Just grab a piece of soft wood like pine and take test cuts after a little work. You will lose the tracks before you can really tell anything has changed. Sight the blade with a good straight edge and you’ll see.

There are a million how to videos about hand planes on you tube, Lie Nielsen makes some pretty good ones. I remember one of them showed how to camber blades, he just does figure eights while pressing on the corners.

View jmos's profile


827 posts in 2369 days

#5 posted 01-17-2012 03:11 PM

One thing Charlesworth shows on his DVD (From LN) is to use some thin card or plastic strip to slightly elevate one side of the blade while bearing down on the other side. This creates a slight angle which helps remove material from that side. This is for establishing the initial camber on a 1000grit stone. Seems to work pretty well.

-- John

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2351 days

#6 posted 01-17-2012 05:11 PM

I would do the basic shaping on a coarse diamond stone first, otherwise you are going to put a lot of wear on your waterstones to get a camber.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2485 days

#7 posted 01-18-2012 07:14 PM

Just watched this episode of the Woodwright’s Shop a couple days ago, in which Roy Underhill and Chris Schwarz address cambering blades, and the uses for different types of planes. Good stuff!

-- Brian Timmons -

View grego's profile


73 posts in 2581 days

#8 posted 01-19-2012 01:26 AM

Thanks all – great info!

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