Chambering plane irons

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Forum topic by Spitfire1 posted 02-17-2020 03:43 PM 566 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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68 posts in 2194 days

02-17-2020 03:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sharpening hand plane camber

I was reading Christopher Schwarz book the Essential Hand Plane. In the book it sounds as though Chris puts a camber on nearly all of his plane irons beginning with a power grinder then moving to sharpening stones. Is there an effective way to do this without a grinder? Would a course sharpening stone or a metal file work as well? I worry about severely skewing or damaging the plane iron.

7 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile


21690 posts in 2594 days

#1 posted 02-17-2020 04:34 PM

Yep and yep :-) Whatever you want to use to shape the blade will work including stones and files. Personally, I’m pretty reserved with my camber. My scrub plane gets a notable camber and my smoothers get the corners just rounded a bit by hitting them a couple of extra times during sharpening. Everything else gets sharpened straight across.

Schwarz is a great source of information but what works for him may not work for somebody else. It takes a lot longer to remove a camber than it does to put it on so be gentle ;-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Andre's profile


5253 posts in 3261 days

#2 posted 02-17-2020 05:00 PM

I do an extra 3 strokes with finger pressure on the both outer edges of the blade on a 8000 Water stone.
All blades are hollow ground, find this method very effective especially on the hock irons in the Krenov style planes.
Well, except the coopering plane:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View SMP's profile


5301 posts in 1361 days

#3 posted 02-17-2020 05:11 PM

Schwarz puts an 8 or 10” radius camber on his fore/jack planes. Easy with a grinder, but doable with a file. A coarse diamond stone will also help. For a smoother he recommends a very mild camber or knocking the corners off easy with just stones.

View Wintergreen78's profile


96 posts in 1195 days

#4 posted 02-17-2020 08:53 PM

If you want to put a camber on a blade without a grinder you can just use a coarse stone. A file will not be very effective on a hardened steel blade. If your coarsest stone cuts too slow, use some coarse sandpaper on a flat surface. I find it is easiest with the cheap eclipse style guides. Just put pressure on one edge of the blade for a bit, then pressure on the other edge. Count strokes and try and work both sides evenly, both in terms of number of strokes and the amount of pressure. Use a straight edge and a square to check yourself.

I only really do this on my jack plane. I’ve never tried to measure the radius. Just do it a bit then use the plane. If it feels like it needs more, go back to the stone and add a little more. The advice about not doing too much is good. It is easier to add camber than take it out. A jack doesn’t need to be perfect, so this is a good opportunity to practice judging things by eye. As long as it looks square and the curve looks consistent to you, it will work fine.

For the number 5 I use after my jack, there is a tiny bit of camber and I round the edges so they don’t leave tracks. All that is done with just a few swipes on the 1200 grit stone with a little extra pressure on the edge. I can’t see any curve on the blade, but when it is set as fine as I can get it, it will cut with the middle 2/3 of the blade. If you touch the depth adjuster or really bear down on the plane you get a full width shaving.

That’s what works for me. I’m sure there are lots of other approaches out there that work too.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20382 posts in 4023 days

#5 posted 02-17-2020 10:08 PM

i understand putting a camber on a plane iron. You may want to reread because I can NOT understand putting a camber on all planes irons, unless we’re talking about something so discrete it’s just to eliminate possible tracks. I really don’t think “camber” is the right term for that, but that’s just me.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

20382 posts in 4023 days

#6 posted 02-17-2020 10:09 PM

but to answer your question, it’s possible but it will take some perseverance.

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

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3639 days

#7 posted 02-18-2020 05:27 AM

Yeah, what Don said. Ease the edges of an iron on a smoother? Absolutely.

I have no idea why you’d want to camber a jack or jointer plane. You put a real camber—a radius—on a scrub plane.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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