How sharp do you sharpen your handplanes?

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Forum topic by JCamp posted 01-31-2017 02:57 AM 2017 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JCamp's profile


1243 posts in 1465 days

01-31-2017 02:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding

I’m only months old in using handplanes. I’ve currently fixed up two old ones and put them in use. I’ve been just sharpening them using the same stones that I use for my pocket knives. I believe they are 200/600/1000. With that I am able to plane down the saw marks on rough cut boards but I don’t get a satisfactory smoothed board lik it seems some of the guys in YouTube videos get. Should I invest in a smoother grit stone? For you folks that hav been at this for a while.. when u use ur handplanes does it make the board smooth and ready for finish or do u still clean it up with sandpaper?

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

28 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


3498 posts in 2712 days

#1 posted 01-31-2017 03:10 AM

I think you can get more out of your planes if you use finer grit.I can build without any need for sandpaper and use shapton stones.But they are not cheap.
I haven’t bought sandpaper for years.
I’m not trying to brag just letting ya know it can be done,and I’m nothing special.


-- Aj

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2400 days

#2 posted 01-31-2017 03:17 AM

Unless I absolutely have to sand something I will. But usually no.

I think you could probably make a 1000g stone work if you stropped it after.

I pretty much go to the strop after 8000. Kinda just part of the process really.

2000g sandpaper works well if you need something now.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View waho6o9's profile


8953 posts in 3491 days

#3 posted 01-31-2017 03:21 AM

DMT diamond stones, 8000 water stone, and then strop with a leather or flat hardwood block.
The back of the blade needs to be flat as well.

The sharper the better.

Have fun now.

View Andre's profile


3827 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 01-31-2017 03:35 AM

I go to 8000 Waterstone and only strop/hone to touch up an edge. A xfine Arkansas stone and a little strop after will pretty well give you the same polish as a 8000 Waterstone with a lot less mess? Check out Lee Valley site under sharpening they is a lot of good info!
There is a huge difference between a sanded surface and a Planned one, especially if you do not stain your wood.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View bondogaposis's profile


5889 posts in 3266 days

#5 posted 01-31-2017 03:37 AM

When my planes get dull I start with 1200 grit and work up to 6000 grit to get them sharp. I use water stones.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bandit571's profile


26965 posts in 3598 days

#6 posted 01-31-2017 05:09 AM

Paul Sellers does have a couple nice videos on this subject…..might look them up?

I sharpen up to 2500 grit, then a strop. And that is about it,

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

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6179 posts in 1497 days

#7 posted 01-31-2017 11:51 AM

Rob Cosman did a video where he compared 1000 and 16000 grit for finishing plane blades. Might be worth a watch. I sharpen to 12000 and if I’m doing my job correctly with the plane (still not guaranteed – I’m a noob) I can finish from that point without sandpaper. Also, if there are fine marks left after planing, rubbing the work down with a handful of shavings can take off fine marks. No sandpaper needed.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2904 days

#8 posted 01-31-2017 12:46 PM

For final finish smoothing, the sharper the better. Also depends on the wood. Straight grained cherry doesn’t need to as sharp an edge as walnut burl to prevent tear out. I go down to 0.3 um. It depends on the abrasive type what grit that compares to – north of 15,000 waterstones, ~3,000 grit sandpaper. Research lapping or polishing film. With psa backing, it can be easily placed on glass or granite, and doesn’t require flattening. Great way to have high grits without spending $100’s. I use DMT Duosharp’s to start. You might be interested in this.

View cicerojoe's profile


64 posts in 4360 days

#9 posted 01-31-2017 01:14 PM

You are almost there. You just need to keep going. Here is the cheap, easy way to do it for now.

After you are done with your stones, go to 1500 and 2000 wet/dry automotive sand paper. Then final hone with just a little bit of a high quality automotive metal polish on flat surface.

The wetdry sandpaper is equal to about a 6000 and 8000 grit wet stones. Metal polish will get you to mirror finish (instead of strop).

Once you get it super sharp, you can skip the stones when you resharpen.

-- John from the Cherry Valley Studio in NY

View HokieKen's profile


15319 posts in 2053 days

#10 posted 01-31-2017 01:32 PM

My finest diamond plate is ~1200 grit. I generally go straight from there to a leather strop with green compound to remove the wire edge for planes. Exception is smoothing plane which goes to a black Arkansas stone before the strop. I’ll occasionally follow the arkansas stone with some wet/dry paper if I’m working something that really requires a super-fine edge.

I think generally speaking, for general-use hand planes, you’ll probably find the stones you have are sufficient. Wouldn’t hurt to add a strop and some wet/dry paper to your collection though.

I rarely sand but more often than not, I end up scraping after planing to get to my final finish.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View waho6o9's profile


8953 posts in 3491 days

#11 posted 01-31-2017 01:46 PM

Good Stuff:,43072

This honing compound, which took over two years to develop, is the most effective on the market.
It is a blend of both chromium and aluminum oxide to give the best combination of cutting speed and fine finish. The bonding is formulated for ease of charging. It will adhere equally well to felt, leather or wood.

Cuts quickly but leaves a mirror finish with a light wax film. The average size of scratch pattern it leaves behind is 0.5 microns or .00002 inches. Ideal for carving tools and firmer gouges, it can be used for final honing of almost any tool. Used with a felt wheel or leather belt for power honing or with a leather strop for hand honing.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7902 posts in 3828 days

#12 posted 01-31-2017 02:00 PM

I used to only use the scary sharp methodology using SP and ending with a hard Arkansas stone. Very time consuming.

When I picked up the lathe hobby, I knew I needed a better, faster way of sharpening. I solved this with building my own belt sharpening system. It works great for lathe tools AND hand-plane cutters. I use 180grit to get the edge and finish on the buffing wheel with 10,000 polish. I can get a mirror finish (usually requires me to completely shave the back of my arms “testing” the sharpness…) ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Robert's profile


4148 posts in 2395 days

#13 posted 01-31-2017 02:55 PM

A properly sharpened plane should produce a mirror-like finish that needs no sanding. This depends somewhat on the type of wood, for example walnut can be quite reflective, while maple not so.

If you prefer the type of hand planed look on the finished surface stop there. I generally follow with a scraper. Personally, I avoid sandpaper if possible.

You need to take it up to 6-8000. Don’t know what size stones you have but you need at least a 3×8 stone for sharpening plane irons.

For resharpening or touch up I start on a 1200 diamond plate (800 if I’ve been to lazy to sharpen when it needed) then usually straight to a 8000 water stone followed by a few strokes on a leather strop.

For plane blades I usually do a slight back bevel to finish (see “ruler trick” or “Charlesworth method”). Of course, you never do this on a chisel.

THE most important thing about honing is never to the next grit till you have a burr. When restoring, be sure the back of the chisel or plane iron is flat before proceeding on the bevel.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View waho6o9's profile


8953 posts in 3491 days

#14 posted 01-31-2017 04:09 PM

“THE most important thing about honing is never to the next grit till you have a burr”

I never did get that burr until I used diamond plates. After which I use the 8000 stone.

BTW it’s recommended that you use a Nagura stone to create a slurry on water stones
8000 and higher. Not sure of the newer glass ceramics etc…

Nagura stone:

View Lazyman's profile


5947 posts in 2302 days

#15 posted 01-31-2017 04:27 PM

No one mentioned rounding the corners of the plane iron. Does that help get a smoother finish?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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