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Type of sandpaper to flatten hand plane soles

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 01-24-2014 12:37 AM 971 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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paxorion

656 posts in 697 days


01-24-2014 12:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane sharpening

I wanted to know what type of sandpaper I should be using to flatten hand plane soles. From my research (online), it looks like many people start with a coarse wet-dry sandpaper to start with, and work up the grits. I already have a flat granite block and a sacrificial practice plane (thanks HF) that I plan on experimenting with, but I have run into some trouble figuring out good answers to the following questions:

  1. What grit should I start with? (e.g. 60, 80, 100, or 120)
  2. What grit should I work up to? (e.g. 220, 320, 400, 600)
  3. What type of abrasive should I look for (e.g. aluminum oxide, silicone carbide)
  4. With silicone carbide, I seem to have trouble finding lower grits. Is starting with aluminum oxide at the lower grits followed by silicone carbide for polishing an option?
  5. Where do people get their abrasives? Big Box/Automotive supply stores, or any online store recommendations?

-- paxorion


8 replies so far

View Tim's profile

Tim

1267 posts in 613 days


#1 posted 01-24-2014 01:06 AM

The grit you start with really depends on how out of flat it is. If you can put a straightedge against the sole and see obvious light between them then you need to go with the low grits like 60 or 80. If you’re not sure, you can try some feeler gauges or something under the sole on a flat surface. Or you can take a marker and mark lines on the sole of the plane and run it on some medium grit paper and see what’s getting worn away. Large areas not getting worn would tell you to start with a lower grit. The only downside to starting with too low a grit is you’ve got to get those scratches out with the next grit, but that’s not usually as big a deal as the time wasted starting with too high a grit. And I can’t see a reason to go much above 220 on a plane sole. It’s going to get abraded on the wood surface anyway, it doesn’t need to be polished like jewelry, but maybe somebody has an argument for a little higher. Also hollows in the sole of the plane not near the mouth or the front or back ends aren’t affecting the performance so don’t worry about them as much.

View bowedcurly's profile

bowedcurly

480 posts in 380 days


#2 posted 01-24-2014 01:52 AM

you can get PSA 120 for those big floor sanders 12×18 then cut it into strips 3/4 wider than your plane, or buy snading belts and glue them to your stone or order some psa from grizzly or rockler 2 3/4 wide that stuff works great all kinds of options, you will see the high spots in your plane when you start the process, just work it until it’s flat, ebay is a good place to order sandpaper you can get up to 20,000 grit, 7000 for the blade

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1112 posts in 1894 days


#3 posted 01-24-2014 02:13 AM

What I have found that works the best for me is belt sander belts. I bought some 6×48 belts in 80 & 120 grits.
Then I cut them in half so I essential have 6×22 or so belts. I use a light coat of 3m spray adhesive to adhere them to some scrap granite from a counter top. I try marking the sole then do several strokes on the 120. If it looks ok, I continue there. If it looks bad, I go to the 80. Also, I don’t use any lubricant. I do the sanding dry.
I usually take a brush and brush off the iron dust about every 25-30 strokes into a trash can. This seems to make the sand paper last longer.
I normally don’t go any finger than the 120 as it seems that is good enough. With normal use, the wood polishes the sole anyway.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies and the wall gets in the way.. - Mike -

View 8iowa's profile

8iowa

1489 posts in 2412 days


#4 posted 01-24-2014 02:29 AM

Perhaps the most important part of the hand plane sole is from the front to the blade slot. On old well used/abused/neglected planes the area just forward of the blade slot has taken the most wear. This is where the most important work should be done.

I have several glass plates with 60 through 1200 grit papers. Note: If you use 3M adhesive use #77, which will enable you to remove the paper with water. 3M90 is virtually permanent.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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WhoMe

1112 posts in 1894 days


#5 posted 01-24-2014 06:20 AM

Yes, I do use #77. Sparingly so the sandpaper lays flat on the granite.
It is cleaned off the granite when I pull the sandpaper so there is a fresh flat surface again.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies and the wall gets in the way.. - Mike -

View sikrap's profile

sikrap

1015 posts in 2010 days


#6 posted 01-25-2014 02:48 AM

I do the same as Mike (WhoME) except I keep a shopvac next to me for cleaning off the belts every few minutes. I look for cloth backed belts. They just seem to work better for me. Whatever you do, do NOT buy the belts from HF. I made that mistake once. I also agree that it isn’t necessary to achieve NASA levels of flatness over the entire sole. As long as the first 1/2” of the toe, about 1/2” before/after the mouth, and the last 3/4” or so of the sole are flat and in plane, you’re good to go.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3942 posts in 1031 days


#7 posted 01-25-2014 03:53 AM

It doesn’t matter what grit you start with, the finer the grit the more work for you. I always start with 80 grit and finish with 80 grit. If you want to make it pretty, make it flat then make it pretty, but trying to do both at the same time will cost a lot of wasted hours.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

656 posts in 697 days


#8 posted 01-25-2014 04:12 AM

Thanks everyone for the ideas. This is what I gathered based on the feedback:

  1. What grit should I start with? (e.g. 60, 80, 100, or 120) – Start with 80 grit
  2. What grit should I work up to? (e.g. 220, 320, 400, 600) – Getting to 220 grit is probably sufficient
  3. What type of abrasive should I look for (e.g. aluminum oxide, silicon carbide) – Stop over-thinking it, if it cuts it cuts
  4. With silicon carbide, I seem to have trouble finding lower grits. Is starting with aluminum oxide at the lower grits followed by silicon carbide for polishing an option? – See previous answer
  5. Where do people get their abrasives? Big Box/Automotive supply stores, or any online store recommendations? – Where ever you can find it either B&M or online

In addition, the wonders of Youtube gave good Schwarz advice that reinforces what everyone has said.

I’ll be beginning this experiment in the near future. For anyone who is curious, this is what I have done thus far:
  1. I got 80 and 120 grit aluminum oxide sanding belts from Lowes today, and will be using 3M #77
  2. I ordered a variety pack of silicon carbide wet/dry sandpaper from Klingspor tonight, and may take advantage of the extra grits for experimenting with scary sharp on the plane irons, giving me a reference point to contrast with the King waterstones I picked up last year (still haven’t used them)

-- paxorion

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