Which sandpaper for flattening planes

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Forum topic by lateralus819 posted 05-04-2014 06:14 PM 1488 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2241 posts in 1889 days

05-04-2014 06:14 PM

I bought a bunch of belt sander belts, as i figured i could use them both for my rigid sander and flattening planes.

Seems as thought i don’t get much out of em before they’re toast. What kind of paper would you guys recommend?

They’re not too expensive, about $15 for 10. But I’d like to maximize usage. I make sure to periodically clean the belt with a vacuum.

20 replies so far

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1634 days

#1 posted 05-04-2014 07:53 PM

Well, I have used self stick 80 grit and up

Various brands, aluminum oxide (white) and (gold).

-- Jeff NJ

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3585 days

#2 posted 05-04-2014 09:15 PM

For flattening the sole of a plane why not try this tip which works great. Instead of using a sander usea regular stone designed for sharpening chisel planer blade etc .You know the type it is usually around eight inches by two by one.And if you stick you plane in a woodworking vice sole up then apply some elbow grease , and work the stone with some light grade oil across the plane sole it comes up really well.I found this tip to be the best method and does not groove or cause slight imperfections to the flat surface. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View bandit571's profile


20012 posts in 2683 days

#3 posted 05-04-2014 09:24 PM

I use, and abuse an old sanding belt clamped down across a FLAT floor tile ( about $4 for the tile) , and maybe a sandpaper shim under the belt as needed.

Have since replaced those wood battens with a pair of Visegrip Finger clamps. Belt WAS an 80 grit. Be sure the mark the sole with a sharpie

to check on how it is coming along.

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

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1634 days

#4 posted 05-05-2014 12:55 AM

That might work with small stuff, but not a #6 or #7..
Just not enough length there.

-- Jeff NJ

View ShaneA's profile


6929 posts in 2598 days

#5 posted 05-05-2014 01:42 AM

PSA sandpaper rolls. Mirka makes some that last decently well in my experience. Available in lots of grit options, and to whatever length you want to tear off and stick down.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1889 days

#6 posted 05-05-2014 01:43 AM

I’ve had success flattening, that isn’t the issue. The issue is the longevity of the paper.

I typically get 2 planes out of 1 belt. Maybe more, depending on how bad it is.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1889 days

#7 posted 05-05-2014 01:48 AM

Sweet thanks Shane. I’ve heard good things about mirka.

I tried an off brand roll of 220 grit for wood, terrible stuff. Gums up on just wood!

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1903 days

#8 posted 05-05-2014 05:55 AM

Bandits photo above is typical of the problems I have run into with these planes! It can be seen the sole has a twist, and sunk in behind the mouth, with some depression ahead of the mouth also. This is visible by the dark areas. I found planes perform poorly in that condition. I ended up owning 20 of these things, some worse then others.

Problems being, way too thin castings of some inconsistent cast iron, some have very hard skin from cooling too fast when pulled from the mold, some have hard and soft spots, inclusions of contaminates.
I do various operations to get them flat, all are time consuming and present their own problems, including machine surface grinding, and milling. The milling and or grinding I found adds stress to the planes sole causing them to warp and twist to some degree from that, but tends to make them better then they were.

Having tried LN planes, I truly believe the only way to get near that performance, is once the plane is pretty flat from however one gets there, is to finish off with hand scraping the sole using dye and a truly flat reference, as in the photo I have included.
The plane in the photo is a lesser quality Stanley Four Square 5 1/4 size, it now works very well.
There is simply no other way to get them as flat as a LN plane. LN planes are made of a much more stable cast iron, that tends not to get induced stress from machining processes.
Scraping is self compensating and is the only way to get poor quality cast iron truly flat.

View Woodknack's profile


11626 posts in 2380 days

#9 posted 05-05-2014 06:01 AM

I use cheap 80 grit sandpaper off a roll. I burn through it but it’s cheap. Depending on the size and condition of the plane I might get near flat or totally flat from 2 strips (usually 1.5 – 2 times the length of the plane). The point being I think you will use a lot of sandpaper no matter what. I do stop and brush it out every couple minutes.

-- Rick M,

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1889 days

#10 posted 05-05-2014 01:06 PM

I don’t aim for perfect flatness. To do that would be absurd. I just want a uniform finish on the sides and a moderate flatness. I’ll see if I can get some rolls instead. Probably change to a lower grit for rough removal. Been starting with 120, which does work pretty well. I had a #7 almost flat in under 10 minutes.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1903 days

#11 posted 05-05-2014 02:55 PM

After testing out the LN handplanes that they say are .0005” flat, and finding that they are very good, that is the standard I want. But at a much lower price rehabbing older planes. One has to find their own acceptable standard. For example, Its not possible to get a plane better then .003” flat by sanding it, but, at that tolerance, it would be much better then one that is .030” out of true.
At .003” flat, a plane is six times out of tolerance of a LN plane.

With the actually very simple hand tools I pictured, and a few hours time, an old plane can easily be brought to better then twice the tolerance of a LN plane-.0002”.
That is, after sanding/or machining, the remaining error can be knocked down fairly quickly by hand scraping.
I am a metal worker, so since its metal, I use those methods. On the other side of the coin, to sand a metal surface flat is absurd, to a metal worker.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2446 days

#12 posted 05-05-2014 03:14 PM

Has anyone ever tried drywall sandpaper like Norton WallSand sandpaper?it might be just abrasive enough for this job.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3358 days

#13 posted 05-05-2014 04:20 PM

I use 80 grit sanding belts to start. They are 3M and they are the cloth back. IIRC, I got a bunch of them at an estate sale and paid about $2 for a box full of them. Buying the cheap belts is just a waste of money because they wear out so quick.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1903 days

#14 posted 05-05-2014 05:48 PM

Unfortunately sanding rolls up the edges of the sole, just the nature of the method. However just sanding can make things more better. Myself, working some more problem woods such as burl, I find the need to go the extra step of scraping. Reducing tear out, and getting better edges. Here are some of the planes with that last step done. The larger planes such as the 7 and 8 with the C type soles are the most time consuming though.

View Tim's profile


3807 posts in 1961 days

#15 posted 05-05-2014 06:22 PM

Unbob, hand scraping looks really interesting, but there is some definite skill involved there and a reference plate is needed. My understanding is that those are a significant investment if you don’t already have one. Funny too, that scraped surface looks less flat.

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