Iron and steel – part I (Wrought Iron)

As discussed in the previous post, plane blades from the 19th century were typically made of a wrought iron backing with a hard steel bit welded to the tip 1)towards the end of the end of the century solid steel plane cutters and chisels became increasingly popular and the discovery of new steel making processes … Read more Iron and steel – part I (Wrought Iron)

Bench planes – blade steel choices

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

bench planes – tapered or parallel blades?

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?

bench planes – honing

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

bench planes – sharpening angles

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

bench planes – grinding

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

bench planes – preparing the iron

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

bench planes – flattening the sole

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

bench planes – how flat does the sole need to be?

Given the function of bench planes it is unsurprising that the sole of your plane should be flat, but views differ on exactly how flat it needs to make them work optimally. To understand why flatness is important we can consider the mechanics of the plane: if you imagine the sole of a plane that is significantly convex – in other words … Read more bench planes – how flat does the sole need to be?