Adventures in Working Wood #1: Planes and much sharpening

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Blog entry by NinjaAssassin posted 11-26-2013 04:25 AM 1489 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Adventures in Working Wood series Part 2: Updates 'n stuff »

So I’ve picked up quite a few tools at auctions to start my adventures into woodworking with hand tools (or woodworking at all). Right now I’m focused on cleaning up and sharpening the many hand planes I’ve purchased. Some will stay with me in my shop but I’ll likely end up reselling the others to offset the costs of this decidedly expensive hobby.

That’s two #3’s (one not pictured), #4, four #5’s, #6, #7, #110, #220, #80 and I can’t remember the model of the two shaves and the other block plane. The #3 on my bench (not pictured), a #5, #6, #7, one of the block planes, the shaves and the #80 will stay with me. The #4, three #5’s and two of the other block planes will be resold.

I started with a Stanley Bailey #3 that seems to have been restored. The blade was in pretty bad shape with a bunch of nicks and gouges so I thought, “hey, this will be pretty easy. I’ll just fix up this blade and have a nice #3 ready to go.” Well, I’m discovering just how little I actually know about things. I’ve got probably 6 or so hours into this blade and it’s finally almost perfect. I should have taken a picture of the blade before I started and where it’s at now but I didn’t think to do that.

I started off with my oil stones (the 3 piece set from Woodcraft) and discovered after about an hour that my Washita wasn’t anywhere near aggressive enough to start. So I found some 80 grit sand paper and went to town. I then had to pick up some Aluminum Oxide paper from Lowes because whatever I had wasn’t really cutting much faster than the Washita. Through all this I also discovered the primary bevel on the plane iron was something other than 25 degrees. After many hours on the AlOx paper, I got the primary bevel established and was able to get the edge clean of all gouges. A little while longer on the oil stones setting the micro-bevel and I discover about 1/8 inch on the very edge of the blade is off. It slopes from the cutting edge down into the blade maybe 1/64 inch or so. So when my shop time came to a close, I had reduced the width of that slope from 1/8 inch to about half that (does any of this make sense?). Before closing up shop for the night, I decided to take a few shavings off the edge of a 1×12 board. Pretty fun stuff!

Here’s a few pictures

After moving from the Washita to the Soft Arkansas stone I discovered the Washita wasn’t flat. Either that or the Soft and Black stones are slightly concave. In any case, this issue along with the expense involved in buying packs of AlOx paper lead me to the conclusion that I needed a coarse diamond stone. With that I could ensure my stones are flat and flatten and get a rough bevel on my plane irons and chisels pretty quickly, then move to the oil stones to finish up. The diamond stone won’t be here until Wednesday and I probably won’t get shop time again until Friday so I think I’ll take this time to read the many great posts and blogs detailing how to clean up hand planes.

Thanks for reading.

-- Billy

4 comments so far

View Woodknack's profile


13017 posts in 2987 days

#1 posted 11-26-2013 07:39 PM

Pretty quickly you figure out to start with the most aggressive and work until you have an edge then switch to sharpening supplies. In my shop it would be grinder – 120 grit disc sander – 240 grit drum sander – honing. For plane bottoms I start with 80 grit sandpaper glued to my tablesaw top.

-- Rick M,

View Don W's profile

Don W

19433 posts in 3175 days

#2 posted 11-26-2013 07:51 PM

I’m with Rick. Buy a grinder and an aluminum oxide wheel. Save yourself a lot of pain. I restore a lot of planes, but I would have quit a long time ago without my grinder.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View NinjaAssassin's profile


651 posts in 2332 days

#3 posted 11-26-2013 08:48 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. That’s inexpensive enough to be my next purchase and it was on the list anyway.

-- Billy

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 2785 days

#4 posted 12-09-2013 05:16 AM

I have belt sander that I perform the same tasks on. Its not better, but you can use it for many other things.
Also I work at an auto body shop and we use rolls of psa sandpaper that is about 2 1/2” or 3” wide. Perfect for sticking to the t-saw. The other good idea is (if you have one there) go to a home resource center. The one here has granite shorts for 2-3 bucks a sq ft. 2 sq ft is a plenty good size. You can even stick the psa paper to it to flatten the stones if you want to. Now if only my planes were sharp….

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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