Sharpening/Cambering the Iron of a Bailey Hand Plane

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Forum topic by BigMig posted 01-15-2013 05:05 PM 1420 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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439 posts in 2611 days

01-15-2013 05:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bailey cambering sharpening grinding grinding wheel distempering distemper

I recently watched a video on the Fine Woodworking site on sharpening and cambering a plane iron. In it the editor put the iron onto a grinding wheel to begin forming a “hollow ground.” He did not seem to be concerned with keeping the iron cool, etc. as he ran it on the wheel – which seemed to be a stone wheel and it seemed to be turning relatively quickly.

Is there a danger of “distempering” or otherwise harming an old Bailey iron if working it on a grinding wheel? Or is this more a concern only of newer steels like A2, etc?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

6 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3958 days

#1 posted 01-15-2013 05:16 PM

I use a standard fine and coarse grey wheel on my 7” grinder on planes and lathe tools.
I true the wheels and keep ‘em clean.
Yes, you can “blue” a piece of std. tool steel which is not good. But if ya take your time and not get too heavy handed, dip the steel in water while grinding, and touch up the edge with a diamond or ceramic stone, you’ll have good, sharp edges.
Sharpening can be as expensive as ya wanna make it (like any segment of our craft). Remember that our wwing forefathers sharpened on pretty simple stuff with great results.


View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#2 posted 01-15-2013 06:41 PM

Yes it is very easy to draw the temper out of plane irons w/ a grinding wheel. The trick is to use a friable wheel, like these and to keep some water handy.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2878 days

#3 posted 01-15-2013 08:53 PM

The real trick is to keep your wheel dressed. It is easy to burn the edge if your wheel is not properly dressed.

The grey wheels will work well enough if dressed but I did notice a big improvement when I upgraded to a Norton 3x wheel. I never really have any issues with the tools getting to hot.

I use this dressing stick to dress my wheel on a regular basis. I probably dress it after every other use.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2255 days

#4 posted 01-16-2013 01:27 AM

Different wheels have different hardness and have different binders with different materials.
typically you the “harder” the wheel and the lower the grit the cooler your cutting. You would want a moderately hard wheel with a grit from 80-120 or so. Also if whatever your using to support your blade is heavy and made of a big block of metal it will “sink” some of the heat from your blade keeping it cool. The closer to the blade and the bigger the tool rest the better.

View bandit571's profile (online now)


19996 posts in 2681 days

#5 posted 01-16-2013 01:35 AM

after a little grinding. left the chip breaker on as a heatsink.

fingers tell me when metal gets too warm.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3483 days

#6 posted 01-16-2013 01:43 AM

Bandit571, using the chip breaker as a heat sink is a very good idea, using the ol’ noodle. Course, keeping fingers close to the edge is what really keeps you out of trouble. It should extend the time just a bit between water dunks. Thanks for the tip.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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