Cambering Plane Blades

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Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 04-18-2013 02:11 AM 1551 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 1955 days

04-18-2013 02:11 AM

I’ve read that articles and seen videos that have suggested that all plane blades be cambered. Some have recommended making jigs just for that ( I’ve seen recommendations from cambering everything from a scrub plane to a smooth plane ( Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen both sell scrub planes with a severe 3” radius camber.

Do all plane blades need to be cambered? If not, which ones do need to be cambered? How is the right amount of camber determined? Is the camber always applied with a power grinder or sander, or is it applied on a coarse stone?



6 replies so far

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2798 days

#1 posted 04-18-2013 02:31 AM

Not all planes should be cambered and even those that are should have variation of how much. Smooth planes from what I’ve seen, and my own though that doesn’t say a lot, just need a touch of cambering at the corners to keep the corners from digging into your work and creating lines. A jack can have some slight camber for mild scrubbing which I have a blade set up for but my jack is largely used for jointing boards too small to bother getting out the 7 for. So my jack has a completely square blade as does my 7 so that both can make perfectly flat joints. I have a spare 4 which I’ve put some heavy camber to, it’s old with a worn out mouth and is used as a scrub. Scrubs should also have some fairly obvious camber. So not all planes need camber. That’s also my whole collection so I don’t know about a good set up for a 6. Rabbit and shoulder planes should also be kept square.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View ksSlim's profile


1274 posts in 2852 days

#2 posted 04-18-2013 02:48 AM

My scrub has a pretty severe camber. I’ve several blades for my jacks with various amounts of camber.
My smoothers have less than .010 inch off the corners.

If you have trouble with “plane tracks”, try a little camber on a spare blade.
You can swap blades when needed.

Not all woods in my shop seem as likely to show tracks as others.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 1959 days

#3 posted 04-18-2013 03:44 AM

All a matter of how much material you want to remove and how fast. I converted one of my jack places to a fore plane by grinding a significant camber. However, on my smooth plane i only roll the edges a little so that it doesn’t leave marks as deroas mentioned.

A scrub plane would have the most significant camber on the blade.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Loren's profile


10241 posts in 3610 days

#4 posted 04-18-2013 04:01 AM

I usually don’t do a full camber… I can get away with dubbing
off the corners on my standard pitch planes. If you prefer
low angle planes cambering works better than corner

If you are jointing seriously with a plane, a square grind
is best. Occasional jointing with a cambered or dubbed
jack plane is ok, but if you can dedicate a jack or longer
plane to jointing with a square grind, that’s good.

View Tim's profile


3775 posts in 1923 days

#5 posted 04-18-2013 04:31 PM

This site has some edited posts from a forum that cover the issue pretty well. You have to read through a few of the different sections to get an answer for your question, including “jointing an edge…”, “squaring edges…”, “typical shapes…”, etc, but it’s good information. In summary it basically explains that for smoothing and jointing a cambered blade vs a flat one with slightly eased corners is a choice of methods and each is a little different. David Charlesworth is referred to as preferring the cambered method and so apparently does the person you got your advice from, while the author of the link I gave prefers flat. So whichever one you choose is fine since obviously experienced, talented, people use one or the other, but be careful to distinguish advice that is intended for one method or another.

I’ve also read that having a cambered blade on a jointer creates a slightly sprung joint when used for edge jointing. I suppose that’s possible, but the amount of camber doesn’t seem enough to do anything effective with that and whether to spring a joint is a whole other debate.

View Benvolio's profile


148 posts in 1893 days

#6 posted 04-20-2013 12:15 AM

for starting off, as you sharpen using a honing guide, just add finger pressure to each corner in turn, so:

fingers 2 and 4 of each hand on each corner of the blade
then all four fingers on the left corner
then all four fingers on the right corner

that’s usually enough for a jointer, maybe do the process for a little while longer for a jack plane.

but at the end of the day, there’s no need to over think cambers. Just try sharppening your next blade with one on and see how it makes you feel… part of the joy of woodworking :)

-- Ben, England.

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