The Pursuit #4: Rehab, back bevels, and horse butts

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 08-03-2020 06:14 AM 577 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Tuning a Buck Bros smoother Part 4 of The Pursuit series no next part

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about my plane passion…err…maybe obsession is more apropos. Since I’ve been doing a lot of restorations lately I started playing with some new sharpening techniques I hadn’t tried before. So today I want to show how I do a simple iron rehab as well as the new techniques involved and some quick results.

Lots and lots of pics in this one so buckle up.

First up is an iron from a Type 18 #5 dated 347 or March 1947 for those that don’t speak plane iron date codes. The bevel isn’t too bad so we won’t be taking a trip to the grinder on this one.

The back however might pose a problem…

And now the gear involved…a healthy set of stones, a surface plate with some aggressive 60 grit, and of course my favorite plane screw driver, an angle jig, and a honing guide.

Ignore the squares those were from a smoothing iron earlier in the day. For a jack I’m not super interested in square unless its WAY off.

To start I go to my 220 grit stone first just to clean all the old gunk off and see where its hitting when putting on the 25 deg bevel. Also on most jack planes I really only put pressure on the outside corners because I want a decent arc to the iron.

If the 220 stone isn’t doing the trick because, like this iron, it was hand sharpened by a monkey then I go to the 60 grit paper on the surface plate using the same pressure on the outside corners. Keep some glass cleaner around if you use low grit paper as you want to rinse the honing guide wheel before going back to the stones.

Not much else to it really. You just want to keep working on the sand paper until you’ve lapped off all the old bevel and have a nice clean line again.

After that its take it back to the stones and work the primary bevel up to the 1200 grit stone.

For the back I just keep working and working and working on the surface plate until that big ugly rough spot is nearly gone. I don’t have a pic of that since I got frustrated and forgot to take one but you can see it didn’t come out as well as I wanted when I show the back bevel.

Before the back bevel we need to put on the secondary bevel at 30 deg. I take that all the way up to 8000 grit on a shapton. I also polish the leading edge of the chip breaker while I’m doing the secondary bevel.

Now to do a back bevel I follow the Rob Cossman ruler method. The thicker the ruler the more steep the back bevel. In this case I went with a very thin ruluer.

Lay the iron across the ruler and work it on the opposite edge of the stone. It’s really pretty simple. And the result looks something like this. The dark line across the front of the iron is a polished back bevel.

It doesn’t show real well in these tiny pics and as you can see that ugly spot didn’t come all the way out. Time will tell if this iron is a keeper.

Now on to the horse butt section I’m sure you’re still wondering about. Well I used to have a cheap strop that the leather dried out on. So I went to Tools for Working Wood and got a genuine horse butt strop. I must say this thing is awesome. Mine was ~16” long but I cut it down to 13-1/2” and used the extra strip to put some leather pads on my Gramercy Hold fasts. (Bonus pic at the end if you make it that far)

It’s glued to a 3/4” piece of plywood with a bench hook on it. This way I don’t have to use a vice and I can keep it out when using chisels without it sliding around on me.

Once the iron is sharp i strop both the front and back. I also strop the leading edge of the chip breaker to give it a super shine.

And now for the unscientific testing. I didn’t use this rehabbed iron in my testing. I used my 5-1/4 which was setup the exact same way hence the unscientific testing. Anyway enough rambling here is the results from a piece of pine.

That caliper reads 0.0005…thats right 3 zeros and a 5. It’s either broken or you could read the newspaper through those full width shavings. Between the back bevel and the horse butt strop I am very pleased with the results.

And as a bonus if you’re jointing small pieces you get small curls…seriously they just roll up and stay there. I think the polished chip breaker has something to do with that.

And as your final bonus for reading the ramblings of crazy person, as promised, the leather horse butt pads on my hold fasts.

I really like the back bevel even if its very slight. I would say in this case it’s maybe a couple of degrees but the results are fantastic. Even if you don’t like the notion of a back bevel the horse butt strop is worth having in your arsenal. I’ve had it for about 3 weeks now and I can use it to touch up an iron without going back to the stones. I can only do that once but hey that still saves more time for making curls.

1 comment so far

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2 posts in 2341 days

#1 posted 08-04-2020 05:05 AM

That strop setup is really nice, thanks for sharing!

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