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Forum topic by EdsCustomWoodCrafts posted 09-11-2018 05:39 PM 1153 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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932 posts in 2118 days

09-11-2018 05:39 PM

I have an old #4 Bailey plane that I am trying to restore and I use a technique of breaking down the plane part and steeping them in white vinegar .. so I did that and removed most of the rust but I am now trying to flatten the sole of the plane and I can’t seem to flatten the sole

But my biggest problem is sharpening the plane … I have a cheap honing guide and some water stones but I can’t seem to sharpen it…

I have looked at so many videos on YouTube and they all seem to work but when I try it I get frustrated….

Does anyone have idiot proof lol ways of sharpening the blade

-- Thanks Ed “A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working. ~Author unknown” . Come check out my website for more about what I make and how at

29 replies so far

View diverlloyd's profile


3925 posts in 2632 days

#1 posted 09-11-2018 07:03 PM

Any of the sharpening machines do a pretty good job. If your doing it by hand then the veritas jig is really nice.
When flattening the sole of the plane make sure it’s back together and set up with the blade and chip breaker in it. Cast have a bit of flex to it. Also I have seen some homemade sharpening jigs that look like they would work well. They hold the blade and then move the stones over them.

View corelz125's profile


1344 posts in 1751 days

#2 posted 09-11-2018 07:24 PM

First if its an old iron make sure the back is flat. I use a work sharp its very beginner friendly and does a very good job.

View chrisstef's profile


18094 posts in 3781 days

#3 posted 09-11-2018 07:35 PM

If the back of the iron is way out of flat you can use the ruler trick. Basically you lay the thinnest rule youve got under the middle of the blade while flattening. This raises the blade up a touch so that youre only really flattening the very (cutting) edge of the iron. This will cut down the time it takes. Always start by flattening the back then move onto the bevel. Make sure your create a burr or wire edge before progressing onto a finer grit of stone. You want to remove that burr on the next higher grit. Move up to as fine a stone as you can go making sure youve got a burr during each phase.

Youll get it. The first couple of times its a pain and you dont know what youre looking for but once you find it, you’ll be well on your way.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View DBDesigns's profile


232 posts in 773 days

#4 posted 09-11-2018 08:29 PM

Everyone has done a pretty good job of addressing the blade sharpening so I will try to help with the sole flattening.
1) Find a flat surface in the shop. I have an old granite sink cutout from a counter top but your tablesaw is probably pretty flat too.
2) Attach sand paper to the flat surface.
3) Make sure the plane is fully assembled with the iron recessed away from the throat.
4) Rub the sole in a circular motion until you are tired and your hands hurt.
5) Go to the refrigerator and get a beer. Drink immediately. (No power tools after beer!)
6) Go back and lap the plane some more until the bottom is flat or you don’t care anymore. (Whichever comes first.)
Repeat as necessary.

-- I remember when Grateful wasn't Dead

View chrisstef's profile


18094 posts in 3781 days

#5 posted 09-11-2018 08:34 PM

i cant like that post enough ^

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Ocelot's profile


2539 posts in 3413 days

#6 posted 09-11-2018 09:10 PM

A perfectly flat sole is not actually required, so try planing first and only go to the flattening if you need it.

The first time I flattened a no 4, it was very pitted too so I was working out the pits at the same time.

I used sandpaper on a granite surface plate. It took probably 10 sessions of 1 or 2 hours. I can’t remember. We had new twins at the time so when they were sleeping, I was sanding the bottom of this plane (in the evenings). Why did my wife tolerate that? I don’t know. But she did and it got flat… ish. I messed up and didn’t properly afix the sandpaper to the stone the first time. If the sandpaper is loose at the edges, it will round the edges of the bottom of your plane (a little). No biggie, but better to make sure the sandpaper (especially in the coarsest grit) is firmly stuck down.

Don’t think of it as something to complete. Just assume that for the rest of your life when you are not doing something else, you’ll be sanding your plane. One day you’ll look at it and exclaim “It’s flat!”. Then, go to the next finer grit.


View greg48's profile


627 posts in 3532 days

#7 posted 09-11-2018 09:54 PM

Ed, nothing to add here except AMEN to the above.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View bandit571's profile (online now)


25907 posts in 3458 days

#8 posted 09-11-2018 10:19 PM NOT use the straight edge & feeler gauge routine…..all you need to use is a black Sharpie pen…..make a series of lines across the soles….80 grit sandpaper ( sanding belt will do, cut to length, glue flat) and go until the lines are gone…..if you need more than a 1/2 hour….Usually I do not need to work that long. Do NOT hold the plane like you are actually planing a board…..finger onto the base around the handles….don’t use the handles.

Try this test, BEFORE you go grinding the sole….place the assembled plane on a flat surface. Use each index down at the ends of the base…first in the center at each end, and see IF it rocks any….then do the diagonals, and see IF it rocks….no rocking? sharpen it up, put it to work.

Biggest cause of a non-flat sole…is wear. Unlike wood, cast iron does not “warp”...unless it was in a fire. Or..there is a crack from being dropped, allowing the sole to bend a bit…all the sandpaper in the world ain’t fixing that.

K.I.S.S. It usually takes about a 1/2 day, for me to have a plane working like this..


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

View EdsCustomWoodCrafts's profile


932 posts in 2118 days

#9 posted 09-11-2018 10:33 PM

Thanks everyone… I am also thinking off getting a quality bevel jig .. I’ll prob get the MK2 from Veritas

Has anyone used it.. I think it’s slmost idiot proof lol

-- Thanks Ed “A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working. ~Author unknown” . Come check out my website for more about what I make and how at

View corelz125's profile


1344 posts in 1751 days

#10 posted 09-12-2018 12:35 AM

Bandit you flatten a 7 or 8 the same way? Thats the one time when i am happy for a corrugated sole when it comes to flattening a #8

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2669 days

#11 posted 09-12-2018 01:33 AM

Thanks everyone… I am also thinking off getting a quality bevel jig .. I’ll prob get the MK2 from Veritas

Has anyone used it.. I think it’s slmost idiot proof lol

- EdsCustomWoodCrafts

I freehand some and use the Mk2. Some people have complained that it can sharpen your blade at an angle, instead of straight across like it should be. This is true if you do not tighten the knobs equally. If you tighten one side more than the other, your edge will be crooked. If you pay attention and tighten both evenly, this won’t happen. You can check by seeing how much of the screw is showing through the knobs. I’ve used it for several years and never had weird looking edges – but you have to pay attention.

I’ve heard the newer L-N honing guide is excellent and you don’t run into the above problem, and you also do not have an issue with holding chisels, which can be problematic (not always) in the Mk2. I do my chisels freehand so I don’t care. But with the L-N you have to set up your own angle-setting jig. Not a big deal but it takes a little time to make because you need to be sure you’re accurate. The Veritas jig has many set angles ready to go with its guide.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19618 posts in 3343 days

#12 posted 09-12-2018 09:50 AM

The good thing about the internet is if you ask the same question enough, sooner or later you’ll get the answer you want, right or wrong.

I always flatten my soles with the plane completely apart. First, the wives-tail about the plane needing to be together is false. It also forces you to hold the plane flatter. As Bandit said, don’t hold the handles and if they’re not there you can spread your hands even across both sides.

I free hand, and if you sharpen enough eventually you will to, but a jig keeps you from rounding the bevel edge. Even your cheap honing guide should work if you take your time and pay attention.

Make sure the back is flat.
Make sure each grit pulls a small even burr
Although having a flat stones isn’t an absolute necessity, for your first time i think it is very important.

Don’t give up. You’ll get it.

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

View OSU55's profile


2648 posts in 2765 days

#13 posted 09-12-2018 12:16 PM

These blogs can help you tune up your plane

View waho6o9's profile


8909 posts in 3352 days

#14 posted 09-12-2018 12:59 PM

Atoma diamond plates and a 8000 water stone will work wonders.

A Nagura stone may be used on the water stone if you want, I like it.

Paul Sellers strops after his diamond plate routine.

Solid advice above.

“Don’t give up. You’ll get it.”
What Don W said. +1

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1523 days

#15 posted 09-13-2018 01:44 AM

I flattened mine with sandpaper on a flat surface. As for the blade, replace it with a Hock.

Veritas for the plane blade sharpening, and I use DMT diamond plates and then jeweler’s rouge on a leather strop glued to a flat board.

And I need to sharpen one of my No 4’s.

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