Sharpening plane irons with sandpaper - do I need a stone or a file to knock off the corners?

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Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 10-31-2013 04:12 PM 2458 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HarveyDunn's profile


328 posts in 2242 days

10-31-2013 04:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane sharpening

I’ve assembled some sandpaper and a sheet of glass and have sharpened up some chisels. Works great. But when it comes time to do plane irons (I’m waiting for my vintage planes to arrive) will I need something else, like a file or a chisel, to knock down the corners? I know that if I was working on a stone I would lift the iron slightly to concentrate the abrasive action at the corner. But I imagine that with paper, it will tear through.

I know that sandpaper is the most expensive system in the long run, but it is what I want for now because it has the lowest start-up cost. So if I do need to add something, I’d like it to be as inexpensive as possible.

6 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3425 days

#1 posted 10-31-2013 04:20 PM

Use the same technique, assuming that you are using a sharpening jig when using sandpaper.

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

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2405 days

#2 posted 10-31-2013 04:52 PM

Mike’s setup is just like mine – with that jig you can kinda tilt to the side and camber edges well. It won’t dig in the paper unless you really turn it and jam it in there. To put any more of a curve on a blade you need a grinder.

View HarveyDunn's profile


328 posts in 2242 days

#3 posted 10-31-2013 05:00 PM

Yes, forgot to mention that I have the inexpensive honing guide.

Can I start with a really coarse grit – like 80 or even 60 – and work just the corners, then start going up the sequence until I’m around the mid 200s and then start working the full blade from there out?

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3129 days

#4 posted 10-31-2013 05:04 PM

Lay the iron flat on the bench, bevel down and farthest away from you, then round off the corners with a couple of passes of the file in an arcing motion. The file is stood ‘on-edge’ when you do this, if that makes sense. It’s all that’s needed, just ease the corners.

I’d add a couple pictures but I’m away from the bench.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3425 days

#5 posted 10-31-2013 07:06 PM

Another option is to make a “belt sharpening system” by converting a cheap Harbor Freight Belt Sander like I did here. I think I have maybe $120 in it, NOT counting the red lathe tool sharpening jig (~$70), but you can make that on the cheap as well, HERE with Cap'n Eddie Castelin :

My HF Belt Sander Conversion – more info

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

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3870 days

#6 posted 11-01-2013 02:12 PM

Its real easy to ease the corners on sandpaper. All you need to do is apply heavier pressure on one corner, make X numbers of passes ON THE PULL STROKE ONLY, then do the same for the other corner. It can be done going back and forth, but on sandpaper its much more difficult.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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