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How to Sharpen Your Plane Blade

Posted on July 26 2018

How to Sharpen Your Plane Blade



Sharpening your plane blade correctly is fundamental for the successful performance of any woodworking plane. There are many ways to go about sharpening your blade, however this is the technique that we use and recommend. If you already have a sharpening technique that works for you, that is great! You are best to continue with the method you know if you are achieving good results from your tools.

 Any planes that we sell come sharpened and ready to use straight out of the box. In most instances you will be able to resharpen your blades using water stones, however we do recommend that blades are checked for the correct bevel angle geometry on occasion to ensure your bevel angle is at  30 degrees. If you solely sharpen with water stones by hand your bevel angle may begin to change over time through repeated sharpening to an angle such as 45 degrees, which means your blade may loose clearance behind the blade which in turn will effect the plane's  performance.

The following information is our sharpening guide that was put together by Terry Gordon from HNT Gordon & Co and Micheal Connor Woodwork.

1.  If you need to grind the bevel of your blade, first clean your grinding wheel with a diamond dresser. This will help prevent burning your blade. Remember clean your grinding wheel after every blade you grind.

Set your tool rest up so the blade bevel is ground at about 30°.  When grinding your blade use a light pressure against the wheel and keep your blade moving back and forth across the wheel. This will minimise the chance of burning the blade. If the blade starts to get hot, dip it in some water before it burns. Normally you will only need to grind about 0.5mm from the edge, unless you need to grind out a chip in the edge. Remember a hollow ground blade takes a lot less time to sharpen.

2. Prior to sharpening your blade check that your stones are flat by rubbing them on a known flat surface, such as 10mm plate glass, which has some 180 grit sandpaper glued to it. Remember you can’t get your blades sharp if the stones are not flat. You should be able to sharpen about 10 blades before the stone will need re-flattening.

4. Secure your 1000 grit and 6000 grit stones on a board that is held securely on your bench. If your stones are moving it is difficult to get a good result and you may damage the stone. It is a good idea to keep your 1000 grit stone in a water bath while you are using it as it will soak in a lot of water. When not is use ensure not to keep in in the water bath.  Do not soak the 6000 grit water stone as it can soften in.

5. If it is a new blade, you may need to hone the back of the blade quite a bit, until it is completely flat at the edge. To sharpen your blade, first hone the 30° bevel on the 1000 grit stone. We recommend a straight back and forth action using the full length of the stone. Hold the blade slightly skewed on the stone and put more pressure on the front of the bevel. This will help hold the bevel flat on the stone. If it is a thin blade, a honing guide may be beneficial.

6. Put plenty of water on the stone as this will clean the pores of the stone, letting it cut quickly. Keep honing until you feel a wire edge appear on the back of the blade. This should take less than 1 minute. If it takes longer, this indicates you will need to re-hollow grind the bevel. If the back of your blade is already flat and nicely polished you can go straight to the 6000 grit stone to take the wire edge off.

7. Now you are ready to give the blade a final hone, which will refine the edge to a perfectly clean, straight facet, which will stay sharp for a considerable period of planing. We recommend honing a micro bevel at this stage. To do this, place the bevel flat on the stone, start moving it back and forth, then raise the bevel slightly, about 1°, until you hear a slight scraping sound - this will indicate you are honing the micro bevel.

8. Hone the edge until you feel a wire edge on the back of the blade, then polish the back of the blade. Let the grey slurry build up and dry out. Do the final honing strokes on the bevel and back of the blade through this slurry. The slurry clogs the stone, making it cut finer, improving the blade edge.

Hopefully you have found this information useful, and if you need any further assistance contact us here.

You can also find a comprehensive video on sharpening blades here,  which shows the process of sharpening flat, curved and hollow blades.

Terry Gordon - Planemaker,
HNT Gordon & Co.

1 comment

  • Doug G: July 27, 2018

    Thanks Terry,

    That’s a great start to what I am sure will become a very useful and popular blog. Love your work.

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