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What should I do to the back when sharpening a bevel-up plane iron?

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Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 05-17-2014 07:05 PM 551 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


05-17-2014 07:05 PM

I have a Stanley Sweetheart 62 Low Angle (bevel up) plane. I’m about to sharpen the iron for the first time.

For my #5 plane I use “the ruler trick” for the back: insert a thin ruler between the back of the iron and the top of the stone to lift it up a few degrees.

A random person told me to never do that with a bevel-up iron. Just hone the front then do the minimum necessary on the back – with it flat against a freshly flattened stone – to remove the wire edge.

Is that correct?


6 replies so far

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Loren

7539 posts in 2298 days


#1 posted 05-17-2014 10:32 PM

There’s not much to be gained by back beveling an iron bedded
at 12 degrees. That’s about as low as you can go. Consider that
with a standard bench plane you’d have to sharpen the iron
to 33 degrees to get the same effect. I’m sure some people
go that steep, but the standard tends to be in the 25 to 30
degree range. Wear can occur to the bottom of the bevel
and the closer it is to parallel with the sole, the faster this
wear progresses, creating a “wear bevel”. This is actually an
issue of concern for me with low angle planes.

Technically I wouldn’t recommend back-beveling a low angle
plane iron unless the back of the iron was in such bad shape
flattening it wasn’t a viable option. Now you can put a sliver
of back bevel on there, but understand that that’s going
to get the wear bevel on it as you use it. Furthermore,
keeping a bevel grind square is made more challenging if
you back bevel the iron. Standard bench planes have a
wide range of adjustment but low angle planes are rather
fussy in this respect. If you flatten the back to a mirror
polish and focus your future honing on the top bevel only,
you’ll be in a position to maintain that square edge by just
working from one side, which is easier. The wear bevel
that forms is so narrow it’s hard to see. You can remove
it by simply maintaining the top bevel in general, but if
the plane doesn’t always cut as well as it has when you
first got the iron really sharp, look to grinding (or stoning)
the top bevel back by 1/100” or something to get rid
of the wear bevel and then you’ll be back in business.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9887 posts in 1269 days


#2 posted 05-17-2014 10:37 PM

There is no better answer than Loren’s, IMHO…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Don W's profile

Don W

15017 posts in 1218 days


#3 posted 05-17-2014 10:48 PM

Yep, Loren nailed it.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 382 days


#4 posted 05-18-2014 12:24 AM

If you flatten the back to a mirror polish and focus your future honing on the top bevel only, you’ll be in a position to maintain that square edge by just working from one side, which is easier.

Would it not always require at least a little swipe on the back to remove the wire edge formed from working on the front?

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Loren

7539 posts in 2298 days


#5 posted 05-18-2014 01:44 AM

yeah, do that. You may want to go back and forth between the
back and the bevel a few times… Some people bend the wire
edge back and forth to break it off with a thumb, but with
finishing water stones it’s so fine it’s difficult to feel.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View richardwootton's profile

richardwootton

1244 posts in 606 days


#6 posted 05-18-2014 02:16 AM

I do the back and forth like Loren said on my standard pitch bench planes. Mainly when I get to 2000-2500 grit paper.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

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