If you pick up a wooden bench plane from the the last century (there are lots of them about still!) the chances are it will have a ‘laminated’ cutting iron1)we are going to touch on some basic metallurgy with many mentions of iron in this post, so I will refer to them as ‘blades’ herein. … Read more bench planes – laminated vs steel blades
Makers of edge tools, including plane blades, need to be concerned about several different properties of steel: Toughness: This is the ability of the steel to deform without breaking, cracking or chipping. Materials that lack toughness are said to be brittle1)sharpening angles have an effect here – the narrower the angle the less metal … Read more Bench planes – blade steel choices
From the time they were introduced in the 1860s by Leonard Bailey until quite recently, metal bench planes were supplied with thin irons. On paper this is a good thing: thin irons are an improvement on thick ones in as far as they are cheaper to make – since they use less material – and … Read more bench planes – thick or thin irons?
This article is about blades used in wooden planes but there is an interesting parallel between the blade choices available to wooden plane users at the start of the 20th century and the choices facing metal plane users at the start of the 21st (the contemporary choice is between thick vs thin irons, rather than … Read more bench planes – tapered or parallel blades?
We already read about the importance of sharpening angles, camber is the other consideration when sharpening a plane cutter. It is common to add a slight curve or “camber” when preparing a cutter to take off a lot of material – the curve means only a small section of the blade enters the wood initially … Read more bench planes – blade camber
Once you’ve ground the blade to to about the right angle then you need to hone it in order to create a keen edge. As per the previous post, experience has shown that grinding the blade at 25° and honing a few degrees steeper – around 30° – is a good practical approach for many woodworking tasks. As we learned … Read more bench planes – honing
Once you have established the rough shape of the bevel (see previous post) the next step, referred to as honing or whetting, involves rubbing the iron against progressively finer abrasives until you are satisfied with the sharpness of the edge. Before we get going we’d do well to consider the various angles we’ll be working with. … Read more bench planes – sharpening angles
grinding the bevel – the mechanical approach There are two basic techniques – the first method I’ll describe is the one frequently described in old woodworking literature (you can read about the basic principles of sharpening edge tools in the previous post). You start by using a mechanical grinder with a circular grind stone to establish a bevel … Read more bench planes – grinding
Sharpening! A quick trawl of the internet reveals a bewildering array of opinions on this topic, and if you look a bit further afield you will find entire books covering the same. But do not be deterred: the basics can be understood and learned with a relatively modest investment in time and do not require any special skills, … Read more bench planes – preparing the iron
In the previous post we found out how to check your plane’s sole for flatness. If you buy a new plane from Lie Neilsen, Veritas or some other high-end maker then you can rest assured it has been manufactured to very high tolerances and therefore won’t need any work (and if it isn’t you can send … Read more bench planes – flattening the sole