plane iron questions

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 09-09-2012 01:01 AM 846 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2286 days

09-09-2012 01:01 AM

This question comes about as I have experience sharpening my carving tools, but I think I’m lacking some basic sharpening skills for my plane irons.

On my carving tools, they only rarely see a stone and never see a grinder unless someone tries to dig out a finishing nail with it (yeah it happened …. once…. that person bought me a new $70 gouge).

Once I have them sharp ….and we’re talking so sharp they can cut you on Tuesday and you don’t even know you’ve been cut until Thursday…. I strop them rather frequently. Sometimes after as few as 5 to 10 cuts. Depends on the wood.

I can get a plane iron sharp. But I seem to only sharpen them square. I never learned how to put a little camber in an iron’s edge. I’ve been reading more about hand planes and getting mine out and working with them more often to try to get a better feel for them.

For instance, if I have a board that has a twist, I will often use a hand plane on it at the high corners before even taking it over to the planer. Or a board with a bow may get a few swipes at each end before it goes to the planer.

So is it practical to remove an iron and strop it? Or do you just use it until it needs sharpening on the stones again?

And is there an easy method for putting some camber in a blade and/or sharpening one with a camber already in it so you don’t lose the camber?

3 replies so far

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2258 days

#1 posted 09-09-2012 01:25 AM

Well I’m no expert, but I have a leather belt for my sharpening system. I just take it off and as soon as I feel it dulling and hit it up on the belt for a few seconds. I have never had to go above a 1200 girt belt to bring a blade back. I also just hit the side of the blades with 3 or 4 passes to give it a little rounding for my smothers. And that seams to do the trick.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4007 posts in 2234 days

#2 posted 09-09-2012 01:32 AM

Hi Charlie! Welcome to the wonderful world of hand planes that is my new addiction too. Just bought some antique tools, a 112 scraper, a Stanley Sweetheart 62 low angle, a Stanley 113 radius plane. Prices were good enough to run a tool gloat!
A plane iron is a bit awkward to remove frequently for honing. You do want to keep them extremely sharp for their best performance in tough places, but in practice the edge wears rather quickly especially in some woods. So I use the blade until its performance becomes unacceptable and then I break down the plane. I have become fanatical about plane iron sharpening consistency, and so have turned to Lee Valley sharpening system on DMT diamond stones (all six). In a matter of moments (OK, under 3 min), I can restore the polished razor sharp edge and be on my way again. A good A2 or D2 1/8” (or better) iron can go a long ways to lengthen time between sharpenings. Great speed is gained by the consistency of angle offered when using this jig because the angle is the same as last time, minimizing blade lost to wobbles.,43072,43078,51868
Lee Valley offers a camber roller for the holder that replaces the flat roller making it very easy to put as much camber as you want consistently. I used to just round up the corners a bit, but I’ve found that a full camber is SO much faster and cleaner! I just finished a sharpening station that I will post pictures of in my LJ blog this weekend. Stay tuned.
I used to do all blade sharpening on sandpaper on glass and hold the blades by hand. I got pretty good at it, but I learned that no matter how good I became, I just could not consistently match the performance of this jig. Consistency, consistency, consistency.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2184 days

#3 posted 09-09-2012 01:56 AM

If you’ve got a couple basic planes (scrub, jack/fore, jointer, smoother) you don’t usually have to hone mid-session unless you’re planing very tough wood. You might consider picking up a jack plane and converting it to a scrub plane, as it really cuts down on the time it takes to square up a board.

My converted scrub is the only one with a cambered blade. I cambered the blade freehand on my Work Sharp 3000. I drew an arc, and did a preliminary shaping session, then moved on to sharpening. The trick was to angle the blade until you can see the wire edge on the back side, then make a smooth motion from one side to the other, always keeping the very edge against the disc, and periodically flattening the back. The blade now has a mirror shine, and only needs occasional honing.

When I do touch up my blades before planing, I just hone it on a leather wheel with green compound.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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