Stanley Bailey #3 question

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Forum topic by Belg1960 posted 09-06-2014 05:01 PM 1284 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1068 posts in 3065 days

09-06-2014 05:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sharpening angles

I got one of these as a tip the other day and would like to use it as my go to plane for rolling edges and general clean up. What would be the best angle to sharpen the blade to, 30 25 micro bevel and all that good stuff. Thanks Pat

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

5 replies so far

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2450 days

#1 posted 09-06-2014 05:29 PM

A number 3 is for smoothing small hard to get to places. A block plane is for rounding over edges and end grain. The number 3 comes with a 25 degree bevel, but you can change that to a 50 or even a 55 degree for very hard or changing grain wood such as birdseye maple or an exotic wood. Not too sure about the 30 degree but it may be a bit better on hard woods than the 25 for maple, walnut or even crazy grain pine. But I would stay with the 25 degree bevel, it seems to have worked very well for the last 100 years or so… There is an article on using an all around bevel of 32 degrees. But i have never tried that. Do the research on the net, i am sure you will find tons of advise and info for about any type wood planing..

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 2024 days

#2 posted 09-06-2014 07:09 PM

anywhere between 25 to ~35 will be fine. Anything after 35 and theres not enough clearance and the plane will not work properly. Anything less then 25 and your edge life won’t hold up much.

Whether you hollow grind, convex bevel, micro bevel, etc. is all personal preference. A hollow grind followed by freehand honing would be my preferred method but there are hundreds of ways to get a good edge. Normally I just freehand sharpen convex bevel like paul sellers.

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Robert Brown

151 posts in 2691 days

#3 posted 09-07-2014 03:47 AM

A bench plane is a bevel down plane. It is for smoothing. The blade will be presented to the wood at a 45 degree angle no matter what the primary bevel angle is. Rule of thumb is that the primary bevel should be at least 35 degrees to give enough clearance for the fibers behind the cut to spring back. (There is no need to give more clearance. A 25 degree bevel would just weaken the cutting edge for no purpose.) Some people will put a micro bevel on the primary bevel for ease in sharpening. For grain that switches back and forth a back bevel is sometimes used. A 5 to 10 degree bevel is put on the opposite side of the primary bevel. A 5 degree back bevel will present the blade at a 50 degree angle to the wood. It is harder to push but minimizes tear out.

A normal block plane has a 20 degree bed. Its blade is sharpened at a 25 degrees and fits bevel up presenting the cutting edge to the wood at 45 degrees just like the bench plane. The advantage of a block plane is that it can be held in one hand. It is easier to round edges with one hand than two hands. A Stanley #3 can be held with one hand but not as comfortable or naturally as a block plane.

To answer the question of sharpening a blade; make sure the back is flat and then put a primary bevel of 35 degrees. This is all I do now for a new blade. After that it is just frequent honing using a modified Paul Sellers method.

But when I was new at sharpening it was difficult for me to get these two planes of the blade to meet at one sharp edge. I did ruler trick (back bevel) first but decided after a while I did not want a back bevel and went to putting a micro bevel on the primary bevel. The micro bevel is only about 2 degrees more.

There are many ways to sharpen. The above is what works for me. I have taken parts of my sharpening process from many people. I don’t expect my way to become your way. But I do hope it helps you find your way.

View Belg1960's profile


1068 posts in 3065 days

#4 posted 09-07-2014 10:03 AM

Thanks guys much appreciate all the nuance pointers.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Belg1960's profile


1068 posts in 3065 days

#5 posted 09-07-2014 03:36 PM

Ok, so I went with 30 degrees to start to see how I like it. Got a real nice edge to it but now need to set it properly. Got my throat opening in front closed to about 1/16 and got the depth set just thru the face. The blade is parallel to the opening. Is there any other thing that would help fine tune it?

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

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