grinding plane blades?

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Forum topic by Beginningwoodworker posted 11-15-2008 02:00 AM 2584 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13345 posts in 3818 days

11-15-2008 02:00 AM

I am wondering why I cant get a good sharp edge on my plane blades? when I try to hone the blade the honeing process starts at the top instead of the bottom. I am thinking I grind my bevel to short.

8 replies so far

View LumberLady's profile


5 posts in 3625 days

#1 posted 11-15-2008 02:52 AM

Have you tried an 800 grit stone? I soak my stone first in water and then hone the blade on the 800 grit Japanese stone and then again on the 1000 grit stone.


View lew's profile


12322 posts in 3900 days

#2 posted 11-15-2008 03:03 AM


Usually when you grind the blade, you can use the same bevel as was originally on the blade. If you did that, then the grinding part should be OK. Also, you should make sure the blade is flat on the “back” side so that your ground bevel is straight and square.

Are you using a honing guide? If you have one, use the ground blade angle to adjust the guide and start the honing process. Once you have the original grind honed to your satisfaction, raise the angle a few degrees (2 to 4 degrees) and hone the blade “tip” to create a micro bevel.

As LumberLady pointed out, Japanese water stones are perfect for this. If you don’t have them you can create a similar device by using various fine grit sand paper stuck to a flat glass surface.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 11-15-2008 03:17 AM

I have a 800 grit waterstone! I have been using a honing gig and a bevel guage.

Here is my grinder set up


View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3929 days

#4 posted 11-17-2008 03:30 AM

Hi CJ, try searching for some sharpening tips here on LumberJocks – I’m sure that a lot of people have posted their own experiences! If you only have the one stone, you might want to experiment with the Scary Sharp system (search here or on Google), which only uses sandpaper! I haven’t tried that one myself, but a lot of people swear by it.

Good luck and be sure to let us know how it’s going.

-- Eric at

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3932 days

#5 posted 11-17-2008 04:12 AM

Short answer: Yes, you are grinding the bevel too short.

I would suggest starting with about a 25 degree bevel. Set the bevel gauge to 155 degrees (180 degrees – 25 degrees) and use it to set your tool support at the right angle to the wheel. After you have ground the initial bevel (stopping before you get to a knife edge so you don’t burn it) set the bevel gauge to about 150 to 152 degrees and set the gauge on your water stone and run the blade up underneath it to give you about a 27 to 30 degree angle when you hone. Hone it until you have at least 1/8 inch of polished honed edge. The more you hone it, the wider the polished edge will become. When it starts taking too long to hone it sharp, regrind the bevel and start again.

When using the blade, if it seems to chip on the honed edge quickly, rehone at a little steeper angle (30 degrees up to 35 degrees). Plane blades from different sources have different qualities of steel in them. Some dull quickly but do not chip (softer steel) and some chip quickly (harder steel). The lower the honed angle, the sharper the blade can be made, and the easier it will cut. However, if it dulls too quickly, or chips, the advantage is lost, so you must increase the bevel angle to give you a stronger edge. As you use and rehone them, you will be able to determine what is the best angle for that blade. I always take a permanent marker (i e Sharpie felt tipped pen) and write the initial bevel and honed angle on the blade so I can easily reference it when regrinding, or rehoning.

As a matter of preference, I use a cheap diamond stone and honing guide rather than a power grinder to get the initial bevel, so that I do not take the chance of burning the temper out of the edge of the blade. If you burn the temper out (edge turns brown or blue) the metal will not hold an edge because it is too soft. The burnt metal must be removed to get back to properly heat treated metal.

As was stated already, the first step is to make sure the back of the blade is flat. Using some wet/dry paper in the 320, 400, and 600 grit ranges to start the final honing process will speed things up.

Hope this helps


-- Go

View BigBob's profile


64 posts in 3634 days

#6 posted 11-17-2008 11:59 PM

I tried for years to get my chisels and plane iron sharp. I finally found a hand grinder on the “bay”. I replaced the stone with a 1” wide 6” diameter aluminum oxcide wheel which is 100 grit.
I made a jig to hold my irons/chisels at a 25 degree angle to the wheel and I start by grinding a hollow bevel to that.
It took a little getting used to spinning the wheel with a slow steady pace, and gringing the hollow bevel with my other hand.
Once you take away the motor, you have a hard time overheating the iron ,and it is actually very pleasent work. It takes all the stress away and the fear of overheating ,and losing the temper of the iron or chisel.
From there, I use a Veritas honing guide and put a primary bevel of about 30 degrees. I then put a micro bevel on with the Veritas guide which I like a lot.
The result is a razor sharp edge. Of course you have to have the back of the iron prehoned to a mirror or it will never really be sharp.
I think this has made me slow down the sharpening process, which I don’t mind, and it has resulted in me not hesitating to re-sharpen and improved my work.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3773 days

#7 posted 11-19-2008 09:36 PM

From what you are describing it sounds to me like you are not setting your honing guide to the same angle you are grinding. So which one is accurate? If your honing guide is accurate, then yes you are grinding the bevel too short (too steep of an angle).

For a bevel down plane there is really no big issue with being off of the 25* goal. So if your grinder is set to 27 or even 30 degrees it will still work fine. You would then have to compensate for this by setting your honing guide so that the business end of the blade is hitting the stone first.

Personally I find that I can regrind a primary bevel in the honing jig, using sandpaper adhered to granite, and be ready to hit the stones faster. I leave power grinding and hollow grinds to tools that are messed up or that I will freehand hone.

I wish you were a bit closer, we could do a sharpening session. I will be in Birmingham on Friday, but only to pick up a bigger surface plate and a stop at woodcraft.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 3655 days

#8 posted 11-20-2008 04:03 PM

I apologize for not reading through all of the comments above but thought I’d quickly pass on one of Keith Cruickshank’s videos that I came across on this subject. Might be of assistance.

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

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