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madwilliamflint
08-10-2011, 03:02 PM
So I've recently picked up the beginnings of the woodworking habit and the #4 plane I bought is duller than a butter knife.

It strikes me that the right thing to do is to have something I can use to sharpen it back and forth across a bench grinder that will keep it square with the wheel.

As the primary purpose is truing and truly flattening wood surfaces I have to imagine that the precision requirements of the blade being "flat" are pretty fine.

I'm thinking some kind of jig with a cross-slide would do the trick. But I'm having a hard time visualizing what the supporting structure would look like.

Any thoughts on this? My bench grinder is still sitting in a box (only just got it as a gift.)

Black_Moons
08-10-2011, 03:21 PM
First figure out if your bench grinder works without running off the table. I suggest finding a 200lb+ table to clamp it to...

then realise that the tool rests on the typical bench grinder are as flabby as wet noodles. So whatever you make, expect to clamp it to the 200lb table as well.

madwilliamflint
08-10-2011, 03:26 PM
First figure out if your bench grinder works without running off the table. I suggest finding a 200lb+ table to clamp it to...

then realise that the tool rests on the typical bench grinder are as flabby as wet noodles. So whatever you make, expect to clamp it to the 200lb table as well.

yep. I've got just the thing. It's about 150 pounds of slab with legs made out of 4x4s. The stock tool rests are indeed craptastic.

All so far part of the plan.

Black_Moons
08-10-2011, 03:42 PM
yep. I've got just the thing. It's about 150 pounds of slab with legs made out of 4x4s. The stock tool rests are indeed craptastic.

All so far part of the plan.

50lbs of 4x4 I hope! I said 200lbs not 150!! :rolleyes:

But seriously, Hope those legs are rigid.. Bolting it down is best, but clamping the bench grinder to be bench can do in a pinch.

HWooldridge
08-10-2011, 03:46 PM
If the edge is simply dull from use, then hone it on stones. Sharpening under power is great if you know how to do it but will sure ruin a blade if not done properly. Besides, you should learn to sharpen by hand if you haven't already done so - one trouble with relying on a power tool are those times when it's not immediately available or down for service...

Tony
08-10-2011, 04:03 PM
A bench grinder is only useful for rough shaping of the blade. Ie "straight",
degree of hollow ground, chamber if its for a roughing plane, etc .. but you
said its a #4.

Use as coarse a grit as you can find as that will help prevent overheating.

To answer your question, you can clamp a small block of (whatever) to your
iron and use that as a stop against the grinder rest. the length between
that stop and where the iron touches the wheel will determine your angle.
(45 degrees? bevel-down plane?)

After that I suggest a good series of stones, or sandpaper to get your
cutting edge.

have fun!

Mcgyver
08-10-2011, 04:15 PM
As the primary purpose is truing and truly flattening wood surfaces I have to imagine that the precision requirements of the blade being "flat" are pretty fine.


random thoughts on sharping planes

A woodworking tool only sees the grinder if its been badly damaged; a big chunk out of it for example requiring removing a lot of material. Planes and chisels are high carbon steel not hss so a grinder will draw the temper - heat the surface up enough that loses some hardness. Even with extreme care, where the molecule of steel meets molecule of abrasive the temp will be too high for the steel. Unless you are extremely careful this drawing of temper will go too far into the steel. After grinding (can't remember when i've ever needed to) you coarse stone, fine stone etc.

The two surfaces comprising wood working edge should each be like a mirror. You get there with progressively finer stones, I have up to 8000 grit, and the blades never touch a grinder. The coarsest stones remove material fast enough to take care of minor nicks etc. Water stones are my preference, they cut quickly

Those little roller rigs that hold the plane blade/chisel at the correct angle are very handy ...not too expensive irrc but they'd also make a good shop project

Bill Pace
08-10-2011, 06:43 PM
I was an avid woodworker for many years before I got bit by this metal bug. I never recall seeing anything saying to use a grinder on plane blades, and can only imagine problems. With a few good stones (like Arkansas stones) a blade can quickly be brought back properly.

NzOldun
08-10-2011, 06:45 PM
So I've recently picked up the beginnings of the woodworking habit and the #4 plane I bought is duller than a butter knife.

It strikes me that the right thing to do is to have something I can use to sharpen it back and forth across a bench grinder that will keep it square with the wheel.

As the primary purpose is truing and truly flattening wood surfaces I have to imagine that the precision requirements of the blade being "flat" are pretty fine.

I'm thinking some kind of jig with a cross-slide would do the trick. But I'm having a hard time visualizing what the supporting structure would look like.

Any thoughts on this? My bench grinder is still sitting in a box (only just got it as a gift.)


If you can find one, buy one of the old hand driven wet grindstones for restoring your blade. The (very) slow speed and continuous wetting ensures that the temper of the blade is not compromised. It can be done on a bench grinder, with great care, but if any 'color' appears on the blade, you've tempered it and will now need to grind back beyond the limits of the color.

Tanto
08-10-2011, 07:27 PM
To answer your questions, there are rests sold by woodworking supply houses such as this http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=32975&cat=1,43072,45938

I have one and it works ok. It would be easy enough to make a more rigid shop made version however.

With regards using a grinder, if you work with wood long enough it will be seen that yes it is sometimes necessary to return to the grinder. Unless you work exclusively in plantation grown woods, sooner or later you're going to hit a nail or somehow damage the edge. It happens. You will swear. Possible quite a lot. Nobody in their right mind is going to sit there all day lapping out the ding! VERY carefully grind the edge back, for the reasons cited above, being careful not to overheat the blade. Don't try to get a fine edge, it's pointless and you will simply draw the temper on the edge. Grind at an angle around 5 degrees less than your final intended angle. Grinding is a method to set the bevel angle, NOT to sharpen the tool. White aluminium oxide wheels are available for bench grinders that grind cooler, however great care is still needed. Once the angle is established and you have a clean edge, go to whatever method you prefer to sharpen and finally hone the edge. That is another discussion entirely, however will be around 5 degrees steeper than the angle you ground. This is the reason it's pointless to try to get a fine edge off a grinder, as it will just be removed anyway.

With regards the vibration, if your grinder is badly vibrating you're using crap wheels, end of story. It's possible to balance bench grinder wheels, and I've heard good reports from those who have taken the trouble to do so. Most of us don't however. I have a box full of wheels, they're all good quality, and all run reasonably well balanced straight from the box. Properly dressed and mounted a good quality wheel should simply create a slight buzz when running that will require the grinder to be bolted down to prevent it "walking", but nothing more.

Enjoy your woodworking.

bruto
08-10-2011, 07:43 PM
There exists, or used to exist, a holder with a roller on it that allows you to sharpen a plane iron on a flat stone at a consistent angle. I'll look later and see if I can find mine and get a picture up. If I were re-shaping a really beat-up iron, I'd either use a belt sander or do it freehand on the grinder, with the expectation of honing it later. Once you're used to doing this it's not that hard to get a good straight edge, at least good enough to get right in the honing stage.

Remember, too, that the main issue is getting a straight edge on the iron. It's somewhat less important to get it perfectly square, because the plane allows you to fine adjust the tilt.

madwilliamflint
08-10-2011, 08:06 PM
Ah ok. Thanks everyone.

Yeah I would have made an abysmal mess of my plane blade with nary a care in the world.

I poked around a bit and "sent away for" what appears to be the right thing.

bruto
08-10-2011, 08:16 PM
There are several plane and chisel sharpening guides on the market still, including one from Stanley. If you Google for the Stanley #200 sharpening guide, you'll see the traditional one they sold for years. Rather clumsy, I think. Here's one I have, which I rarely use, but it does work. The angle is determined by a combination of where you clamp the blade, and the adjustment within the frame of the guide. It doesn't completely remove the need for a little honing skill, but it is very effective at fighting the tendency to rock the blade and produce a rounded edge.

http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/3151/sharpeningguide.jpg

jstinem
08-10-2011, 11:10 PM
Don't waste money or time trying to grind planer irons square. They should have some curve across cutting edge so that there is a a little bit of the edge sticking thru the sole with the corners still in the body of the plane. A straight iron will leave nothing but scratches and gouges on surfaces wider than it is. There is much about proper planing that is not exactly obvious. Most planes today have square irons because it was customary ship a new plane with a square iron so the new owner could shape it to his own needs. You will only find a correctly shaped iron in a plane if the plane was owned by someone knew how to plane. Not many of those folks left now.

Bill736
08-10-2011, 11:24 PM
My best results sharpening chisels and plane irons have been with using a roller jig, such as shown above . Mine is a plastic one, but works well enough. I roll it on an 8 x 12 inch stone surface plate, and use wet or dry sandpaper with some water. 320 to 400 grit suits me , but some people go even finer. The only drawback is trying to get the exact same angle the next time I sharpen the iron.

Tanto
08-10-2011, 11:51 PM
Don't waste money or time trying to grind planer irons square. They should have some curve across cutting edge so that there is a a little bit of the edge sticking thru the sole with the corners still in the body of the plane. A straight iron will leave nothing but scratches and gouges on surfaces wider than it is. There is much about proper planing that is not exactly obvious. Most planes today have square irons because it was customary ship a new plane with a square iron so the new owner could shape it to his own needs. You will only find a correctly shaped iron in a plane if the plane was owned by someone knew how to plane. Not many of those folks left now.

Yes quite right. I was going to post the same but figured I'd said enough already. A smoothing iron should have a very slight radius on it for best results. It's a very large radius, so you may not even be able to see it unless compared to the amount poking through the mouth of the plane as you compare to the sole of the plane. In contrast to, say a scrub plane, where the radius is quite obvious. Basically as you get closer to finishing, the larger the radius will be. You don't however grind this radius in, it should be put in at the sharpening or even lapping stage. Even if using a roller jig, just applying more pressure to one side and then the other will put enough radius in to do the job. A perfectly square plane, even if the corners are rounded, will leave obvious marks. Ideally the wood should be finished straight off the plane, as there is nothing to compare to the finish achieved from a sharp plane or scraper, and sanding will simply "muddy" the results.

Mcgyver
08-11-2011, 12:22 AM
Ideally the wood should be finished straight off the plane, as there is nothing to compare to the finish achieved from a sharp plane or scraper, and sanding will simply "muddy" the results.

right, keep the sandpaper for the metal shop. I remember when I probably 13 or 14 and in Phil Humfreys shop - he's the guy behind the excalibur woodworking products. I made a remark about just sanding something....that got a reaction! He grabbed a board and did the classic demo; plane or scrape 1/2 a nice piece of hardwood and sand the other half. Its really quite amazing the difference... and once you learn how to put a hook on a scraper, its not very difficult. Basically you finish with a scraper instead of sandpaper and the wood just glistens

HWooldridge
08-11-2011, 12:29 AM
right, keep the sandpaper for the metal shop. I remember when I probably 13 or 14 and in Phil Humfreys shop - he's the guy behind the excalibur woodworking products. I made a remark about just sanding something....that got a reaction! He grabbed a board and did the classic demo; plane or scrape 1/2 a nice piece of hardwood and sand the other half. Its really quite amazing the difference... and once you learn how to put a hook on a scraper, its not very difficult. Basically you finish with a scraper instead of sandpaper and the wood just glistens

Agreed - I seem to recall traditional Japanese methods employ planing with no additional sanding on most types of work.

Tanto
08-11-2011, 01:55 AM
Agreed - I seem to recall traditional Japanese methods employ planing with no additional sanding on most types of work.

I'd suggest it was the way it used to be done in the west too. Imagine the wood fibres as a bunch of drinking straws, indeed that's pretty close to the truth with end grain. The bunch of straws are all different heights to begin with and a sharp tool will cleanly slice the "straws" to the same height which then fill with finish. The wood takes on a certain shimmer that depends on which angle you look at it. In contrast, sandpaper is like taking the same bunch of straws and rubbing gravel across the tops of them to get them roughly the same height, albeit quite smashed up, then using finer and finer gravel until they are all the same height. However the ends of the individual straws still have a rough finish to them, as you'd expect if they've just been pummelled by a bunch of gravel!! The light simply won't reflect off the ends of the straws the same way as if they had been cleanly cut. What many don't appreciate is that using a plane like this is actually considerably faster than going through the grits of paper. However the plane must be well tuned and the blade must be truly SHARP. Sadly few people ever get to experience a truly sharp, good quality plane iron, as opposed to one they think is sharp.

darryl
08-11-2011, 02:00 AM
Interesting. Today I scraped out an inner panel of a door because the finish didn't match the rest of the kit. I sanded after that (oops) and re-stained it. Looks good, with no variations right into the corners. One guy at the shop was surprised that I got that result. Even the owner was leery about me scraping the panel, but he let me do it.

I kept re-sharpening the scraper blade on the belt sander, making the edges flat, but also gently rounding the corners- akin to having a very large nose radius. There was some pretty fine shavings coming off, some you could see through, sort of. I don't doubt that you could leave a fine finish right off the scraper without sanding.

Evan
08-11-2011, 02:17 AM
Something like this perhaps? This from the shop at my wife's family's farm.

http://ixian.ca/pics9/farmgrinder.JPG

Peter.
08-11-2011, 04:27 AM
I've got a compact one of those Evan based on a slow-speed bench grinder motor. It's labelled 'chisel grinder' It runs 'backwards' to a normal bench grinder and as I said at much slower speed. One side has a green wheel and the other had a timber wheel around which is fixed a leather band. I've removed the leather band & arobr which was dangerously close to failing and am going to fit a diamond wheel to it which I have and use it for sharpening carbide.

Hopefuldave
08-11-2011, 04:30 AM
Another point is that plane blades (mine, at least) have a very slight curve to the cutting edge, otherwise they put a step or gouge in the workpiece... when adjusted right, the edges (corners) of the blade are inside the body of the plane and the shavings thin to near-nothing thickness at the sides. For a final finish (when it matters) I use a cabinet scraper, which leaves a surface about as smooth as you can get on wood :) Works well on body-filler too, although a final roughing up with abrasive paper is needed to key the surface for paint!

By all means grind a blade if the edge is chipped or otherwise mangled (slow and cool so as not to take the temper off) but finish it by hand, the "scary sharp" method with fine emery on a glass plate really works.

Don't forget to flatten the plane's sole, long straight strokes on the emery/glass combo (unless you need a curve, e.g. for carving the inside of arched hollow-body guitar tops!)

Just my ha'pennorth,
Dave H.

Steelmaster
08-11-2011, 08:39 AM
I do both metalwork and woodwork and have 2 grinders for sharpening the various tools for those activities, a wet grinder (Scheppach 2500, same as the Grizzly and a dry grinder with a 40grit blue wheel and a 120grit white Alox wheel)

Tormek, a Swedish manufacturer of wet grinders, make an accessory for dry bench grinders that tkaes their various sharpening jigs so they can be used on the dry grinder as well.

http://www.tormekshop.com.au/tormek_benchgrinder_mounting_set_tor-bgm-100

I have made my own version of this

http://i606.photobucket.com/albums/tt145/peregrinefred/Wet%20and%20Dry%20Grinder/IMG_1998.jpg

and it works extremely well on my dry grinder

http://i606.photobucket.com/albums/tt145/peregrinefred/Wet%20and%20Dry%20Grinder/IMG_2001.jpg

http://i606.photobucket.com/albums/tt145/peregrinefred/Wet%20and%20Dry%20Grinder/IMG_2002.jpg

GKman
08-11-2011, 09:02 AM
Hardest thing for me to learn was to grind the end of a chisel or plane iron square to the bottom of any nicks. We all want to grind at about 30* back and forth making a sharp edge and continue until the nicks disappear. It's very difficult to keep from burning this sharp edge. Square first then 30* back and forth until the bevel nearly reaches the edge then switch to flat stones. Grind at an acute enough angle that there is very little metal to remove with flat stones.

More on sharpening:
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=48120

If we haven't ruined your day already, most planes aren't fit to use without a tune up. Check for cup ahead of the opening. The sole needs to hold the wood down at this point to prevent tear-out. They also warp and twist until the iron ages out and need the sides perpendicular to the base for use with a shooting boards.

The payoff?
A whistling sound on the long grain and curls that look like shaved chocolate from end grain walnut.

Just Bob Again
08-11-2011, 09:12 AM
I kept re-sharpening the scraper blade on the belt sander, making the edges flat, but also gently rounding the corners
A properly prepared scraper will do amazing things. It can take almost as heavy a cut as a plane. For heavy work where you want a really heavy hook, the edge can be beveled like a plane iron. For finer work it gets ground at 90 degrees. The edge needs to be perfectly smooth with no rounding of the edges. Belt sanding isn't the way. When the edge is perfect, burnish it to get the hook. I use the shank of a scrap solid-carbide reamer. Some people simply draw the hook directly by burnishing at a shallow angle to the edge. Depending on the scraper steel, you can also draw the wrong way first. Pull the hook parallel to the body instead of perpendicular. Then draw it in the right direction. That makes a more aggressive hook and the double-bending work hardens the edge to make it harder. The working edge can be shaped in a gentle curve for flat work or shaped to match a profile for moldings and violin scrolls and the like.

madwilliamflint
08-11-2011, 10:44 AM
If we haven't ruined your day already, most planes aren't fit to use without a tune up. Check for cup ahead of the opening. The sole needs to hold the wood down at this point to prevent tear-out. They also warp and twist until the iron ages out and need the sides perpendicular to the base for use with a shooting boards.

The payoff?
A whistling sound on the long grain and curls that look like shaved chocolate from end grain walnut.

You guys are awesome. It's not in your power to ruin my day. The FACTS however, really take the wind out of my sails.

From my "ultimate beginner" point of view this is infuriating. It seems at times that I have to achieve everything before I achieve anything. I get to the point where I'm stomping around my workshop like rumpelstiltskin yelling "I just want to take a f'ing sliver off the endgrain to match it up. Is that so f'ing involved?"

I understsand fully that this is largely the fault of my approach and lack of patience. Combine that with decades in software development, which has no raw materials to prep (there are arguable analogs, but not sufficient to affect my point.)

There's a reason an apprentice spends years sweeping, then deburring (or whatever "apparently meaningless" task is next.) I'm trying to jump in to the middle of the learning process and "make something" with no guidance as to what skills I really should be spending my time and energy honing (ahem) first.

So I buy lots of tools (table saw, circular saw, router, sander, router bits, saws and hammers, planes and chisels, clamps and glue) and want to "just make something" even as I know the approach is flawed.

And now... high grit waterstones, with a blade jig and a flattening stone. ;)

Maybe I should just "make art" so I could say I meant it that way. (*spitooey*)

ckelloug
08-11-2011, 11:14 AM
I remember using planes and scrapers in junior high shop class. It's amazing what you can do with these tools if they are sharpened properly. I find cabinet scrapers particularly amazing although sharpening them and drawing the proper edge is a discipline. I only wish I could take a cabinet scraper to the Java programming language and scrape off the bark of stupid covering the sapwood.

madwilliamflint
08-11-2011, 11:16 AM
I remember using planes and scrapers in junior high shop class. It's amazing what you can do with these tools if they are sharpened properly. I find cabinet scrapers particularly amazing although sharpening them and drawing the proper edge is a discipline. I only wish I could take a cabinet scraper to the Java programming language and scrape off the bark of stupid covering the sapwood.

Someone did that. They called the result Python.

UPDATE: Of course they then took all the resulting swarf, fused it with Lisp and called the result Ruby.

Chester
08-11-2011, 11:47 AM
To do touch-up work on chisels, etc, I like the results my disc sander gives. This one...... When you have your chisel sharpened, try using it as a scraper, can be reallly satisfying.

http://img809.imageshack.us/img809/1308/deltahomecraftsanderstd.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/809/deltahomecraftsanderstd.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)


Anyone that has a bouncing grinder can fix it by putting the wheels in phase (balanced). Mark them and turn one 1/4 turn at a time, works like a charm. Was ready to throw out this one until I spent some time positioning those wheels. Best to check it first with no wheels installed to see how it performs.

http://img64.imageshack.us/img64/9240/dscf0591h.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/64/dscf0591h.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

madwilliamflint
08-11-2011, 12:17 PM
... but finish it by hand, the "scary sharp" method with fine emery on a glass plate really works.

Don't forget to flatten the plane's sole, long straight strokes on the emery/glass combo (unless you need a curve, e.g. for carving the inside of arched hollow-body guitar tops!)

Just my ha'pennorth,
Dave H.

So what's "fine" emery for flattening the sole? (I used to think 600grit was fine. Oh silly me :p ) If I'm gonna do it I'm gonna do it. Is that a progressive grit getting to something tough to buy?

Just Bob Again
08-11-2011, 12:30 PM
"I just want to take a f'ing sliver off the endgrain to match it up. Is that so f'ing involved?"

Actually, yes. That's one of the more difficult things. You not only need a well-sharpened blade but a decent and proper plane as well. In some wood you can do that acceptably with a Stanley #4 jack. In hard maple, much easier with a Lie-Nielsen low-angle block plane. Power tools take some of the expertise out of the hands of the user and put it in the tool. I'm not sure how many planes I have. At least 100 in good condition. Pick the right one for the job and adjust it and it's easy. Like everything else, it takes a while for it to become easy.

You might want to invest in one really good block plane. A Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen. It'll last the rest of your life. Then you won't be fighting the tool and can get an appreciation of how a good plane feels. A good new one only needs the blade slightly rounded at the corners and it's ready to use. Sharpening once on a stone will do it.

Most work can be done with just a few planes and a good block plane is probably the first essential. The last 10% of the jobs are what take the other 95 planes. Some flea-market planes aren't worth the effort and will never make a good tool no matter how much work you do to refurbish it.

madwilliamflint
08-11-2011, 12:48 PM
Actually, yes. That's one of the more difficult things. You not only need a well-sharpened blade but a decent and proper plane as well. In some wood you can do that acceptably with a Stanley #4 jack. In hard maple, much easier with a Lie-Nielsen low-angle block plane. Power tools take some of the expertise out of the hands of the user and put it in the tool. I'm not sure how many planes I have. At least 100 in good condition. Pick the right one for the job and adjust it and it's easy. Like everything else, it takes a while for it to become easy.

You might want to invest in one really good block plane. A Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen. It'll last the rest of your life. Then you won't be fighting the tool and can get an appreciation of how a good plane feels. A good new one only needs the blade slightly rounded at the corners and it's ready to use. Sharpening once on a stone will do it.

Most work can be done with just a few planes and a good block plane is probably the first essential. The last 10% of the jobs are what take the other 95 planes. Some flea-market planes aren't worth the effort and will never make a good tool no matter how much work you do to refurbish it.

I like the sound of that. I do know it's more me than anything. "Becoming a petulant ass" is one of my few superpowers. I'll track one down.

I'm happy to take this "duller than a butterknife" plane and work on it. It just takes me a bit to retool my head to realizing THAT is the project. But having a tool I don't have to fight so much with would be awfully nice.

Thanks. I'll see if I can track one of those down.

o/

rowbare
08-11-2011, 01:21 PM
This is a bit OT but since the discussion has touched on planes...

http://www.holteyplanes.com/blog/

I am sure this has been posted here before but it is worth the visit.

bob

madwilliamflint
08-11-2011, 01:34 PM
This is a bit OT but since the discussion has touched on planes...

http://www.holteyplanes.com/blog/

I am sure this has been posted here before but it is worth the visit.

bob

As OP I hereby bless this as On Topic :p

That's some gorgeous work.

lynnl
08-11-2011, 01:53 PM
I have one of these sharpening jigs, by Veritas, sold by Lee Valley and other vendors.
http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Veritas-Mk-II-Honing-Guide-P257C17.aspx

It is absolutely foolproof when you follow the directions, which are well written. With this it's very easy to achieve an edge consisting of two PERFECTLY FLAT planes meeting at an accurately determined angle.
It can be used on a stone, but I prefer sandpaper on a flat surface, e.g. table saw, surface plate, etc.

The roller mounts are on a slight eccentric, so with a quick adjust you can put on a micro-bevel.

The little flat looking jig at the bottom of the photo, in the above link, is a little setup jig, with which you select and then set, the exact angle you want to grind. It attaches (temporarily) to the roller jig for the setup.
In other words, it is used to guage the "stickout" of your plane iron, or chisel, or whatever.

Mcgyver
08-11-2011, 02:45 PM
This is a bit OT but since the discussion has touched on planes...

http://www.holteyplanes.com/blog/




anyone use those? built from bar stock rather than castings I wonder if they are much heavier than a regular plane. Then again at 7,000 pounds its probably something someone puts in a glass case :eek:

Stephen Thomas who posts a PM makes beautiful planes and did a series in Home shop machinists a few years ago. While those brass and lacquered wood planes are beautiful, really the failing of a regular plane is they're not that flat and they've got crappy adjustment mechanisms. Those lever Bailey mechanisms make me cringe and old Norris was onto something but blew it when he put in a differential screw that amplifies the motion rather than reduction.

Mcgyver
08-11-2011, 02:55 PM
I'm not sure how many planes I have. At least 100 in good condition. Pick the right one for the job and adjust it and it's easy.

wow, and they're all used not just collectables? I'd love to see some pics and hear your views on what works and doesn't work so well with the different popular designs.

Just Bob Again
08-11-2011, 05:57 PM
wow, and they're all used not just collectables? I'd love to see some pics and hear your views on what works and doesn't work so well with the different popular designs.

I'm not real big on pictures but I'll see what I can do. What I keep on the bench are a couple low-angle block planes (Stanley lever-cap and Lie Nielsen), a Stanley bullnose rabbet, a #10 rabbet jack, a Lee low-angle jack, a #5C jack, a #8 jointer, and a handful of Ibex violin planes. Some of these are "collectibles". I don't use any of the really expensive stuff like Norris-style. Might be nice but I'd have to make them since I can't spring for a $750 plane. I frequently use some Bailey transitional planes, and another dozen less common planes. The rest get rarely used.

I got rid of a lot of the collectibles since they're not terribly useful. Compass planes, Stanley 45s and 55s, Record multiplanes, match planes, molding planes. Some are pretty but a router is more practical mostly. Restoring old planes is a skill in itself. I found that generally less than satisfying. Many are beat too far to be useful and were not great to begin with.

What I look for in a plane is first the thickness of the iron. Most old Stanleys have an iron about half as thick as necessary. I like 3/32 to 1/8 rather than a sixteenth. They're not craftsman tools, they're tradesman tools. Pine and poplar, OK. Curly maple, not so hot. You can get aftermarket blades and caps but that can run the better part of a hundred bucks. I do use an ECE traditional style plane. All wood, lignum vitae sole, wooden wedge. Those typically have a thicker iron and chatter less. The breaker needs to fit perfectly and be as close to the throat as you can manage. The cap needs to hold securely. The body needs to be solid; flat sole, comfortable handle, easy adjustment. Finer work demands an adjustable throat or you get tear-out. Planes have a blade angle that's a compromise. The usual 45 degree or thereabouts is too low for smoothing and way too high for end grain. 50 or 55 degrees is better for smoothing and closer to 30 degrees for end grain. (the bed angle plus the blade angle since the low angle planes are bevel-up)

Buy a new Stanley with plastic parts and stamped pieces for $25 and it's a waste of money. Get one of the gourmet brands for $150 or $250 and it should be fine. Although, some of the ductile iron bodies are really pretty soft and the bronze is better. The better brands all use something like A2 or O1 blades which is a world different than a thin stamped chunk of 1095.

Tanto
08-11-2011, 07:56 PM
Sharpening a blade should never need to be done with any power tool. Power tool companies are in the business of making you think you need their product, people also copy the product concept themselves because they think they need it ... because the power tool companies told them they needed it ;) Older and good quality irons are much thicker than the currently produced stamped steel, and when hollow ground (on a grinder to establish the angle) will naturally sit on the 2 points of the arc. It can be felt, however not everyone has the necessary touch and experience to maintain that angle by hand. It's why I suggested grinding 5 degrees less, popping the blade in a roller jig and sharpening on a stone. If you haven't tried them I can suggest Japanese waterstones, they sharpen very rapidly as they wear to expose fresh abrasive, however are messy to use. The advantage however is no oil to spoil a finish!

The key, however, is then to go on to hone the blade. This is the step most people either don't take or do poorly. In contrast to what some have said here, you do NOT need a high quality plane to take good shavings on end grain. In fact I can do it with a chisel! However the steel used in the blade in poor quality tools is typically crap, and will neither take nor hold a fine edge. The easiest and cheapest way to improve your plane is simply to buy a good quality replacement blade. Here is one source http://www.hocktools.com/BP.htm

I'd agree with the above poster that you can't polish a turd (although apparently the Mythbusters team can!), and putting a good blade in a crappy plane isn't going to transform it into a Norris Coffin plane, but it will get you a huge improvement for not much investment.

Once you have a quality blade sharpened by whatever method you like, the honing will make the difference between frustration and "Oh! Is THAT what they're talking about". You can use any type of metal polish to hone the blade, personally I use some green buffing compound, splash some pure turpentine on a SMOOTH piece of hardwood, and rub the stick of compound on the wood. The turpentine dissolves the compound binder and it forms a paste. If you're using a roller jig, simply roll it on this compound loaded wood. Flip the blade and polish the back/remove the burr. You should be looking at a mirror on the back. Mark where the blade sits in the roller jig, as in use all you need do is pop the blade back in the same position in the jig, give a few strokes on the lapping wood, and get back to work. It doesn't have to be hard, and there's no "secret society of de-burrers and floor sweepers" involved.

oldwing
08-11-2011, 10:09 PM
I see more woodworkers are starting to chime in here. Good.

I use a grinder, a plain old 6" Delta 3450 rpm POS with a white wheel, to establish bevels on plane blades, fix chips on any blade and occasionally on a big honking chisel (I like hollow ground edges). For this grinding, I use the Lee Valley grinding jig. I suspect that metal workers are likely to have much more substantial tool rests than most woodworkers do, however.

It is most helpful to have a honing jig (I can say this here - most woodworker forums would have jumped all over me by now) for plane blades because, being thinner, it is harder to hold a consistent bevel while sharpening. My favorite is the Lee Valley Mark II honing guide. It's easy to set, adjust and use on plane blades. It is less helpful on chisels because many chisels are tapered. But chisels are also less likely to need a honing jig because they are thicker and the bevel is long, making it easy to maintain a flat on the sharpening stone surface.

The "scary sharp" method was introduced to the woodworking world back in the early to mid-90's by an apprentice patternmaker, a highly specialized field of woodworking. He explained that machinists had been using the method for decades. However, woodworkers really took to it because the wet or dry paper is relatively cheap (in the short run) and the sharpened edge is spectacular. There was a big run on 3M papers, especially in the higher grits.

Back then, we didn't have the good selection of waterstones that are so abundant these days.

Then there's loose diamond on cast iron or mild steel. And oil stones. And Work Sharp (tm). And Tormek and Jet grinder/honers. Uffda!

Sharpening is a holy war in the woodworking world. Just pick a method, announce that every other method is crap and see what responses you get. At the least it's entertaining. At the other end, it's so confusing that is mind-boggling.

My advice is to pick a method, learn it and stick with it.

btw, here is the definition of sharp (http://abouna.smugmug.com/Commercial-Work/Benchcrafted-Videos/11365604_W9b4u#817154226_9ndXW-A-LB).

I am not a member of the Flat Plane Society. This means I don't believe that the vast majority of planes need to be flattened to a thou to be useful. Just so long as they're not warped, most elderly Stanleys, Millers Falls and Sargents are just fine the way they are. Oh, it might be useful to check them out. But I have 8 Stanleys, and only one of them has ever been checked.

In the woodworking world, we're in the golden days of tools. There are more, better handtools being produced today than ever before. If you watched the video above, that is a custom panel plane by Ron Brese, a woodworker/machinist in Georgia. He's darn good, one of at least a dozen world-class plane makers working today, each producing tools of astounding beauty and usefulness. That Holtey plane referenced above may, in fact, be found on the display cases of many of its owners, but they're just as likely to be used, even if they DO cost $10,000.

For off-the-shelf planes, it would be very difficult to beat Veritas/Lee Valley, Lie-Nielsen or Bridge City. And if we venture into chisels, the current makers are tripping all over themselves producing some of the finest ever made, from everything from O1 to exotic powder metals.

Ask to see some of the tools gwilson has made.

We all lament the passing of great machine tool machines, and in the woodworking world, most of us lust after old Unisaws and Powermatic 66's. It's just very difficult to beat the current crop of handtools.

btw, I don't have as many planes as Just Bob Again, maybe only 35 or so. But no sir, I'm not a collector, and there are hardly any duplicates and I need every one for my woodworking, yessirree Bob! (At least that's what I tell my wife;) )

Black Forest
08-12-2011, 02:51 AM
You guys are amazing. I don't particularly like woodworking. But I can appreciate what you all put into doing it.

My idea of fine woodworking is taking my small chain saw versus my big chainsaw!

madwilliamflint
08-12-2011, 09:28 AM
I never had any interest in wood working until I moved from my wee apartment into this house and started pricing furniture.

GAH!

I did some napkin math and realized that for the price of the dresser I wanted I could outfit a marginally acceptable wood shop. Sure it would take forever to learn how to do it. But that's all fine with me. Even if my makeshift workbench has dents from my head.

oldwing
08-12-2011, 09:32 AM
...Sure it would take forever to learn how to do it. But that's all fine with me. Even if my makeshift workbench has dents from my head.

It's all about the ride, man!

madwilliamflint
08-12-2011, 09:50 AM
It's all about the ride, man!

Life got immeasurably better when I learned that. Now I have a craptastic little end table. Don't care. The amount I learned about material prep (having not done any) was amazing.