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Sharpening Jig

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Following some good advice on using sharp (or was it "no....really sharp") planes, I've been trying to perfect a sharpening system. I picked up a honing guide from Rockler http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID=2417

but found I could never get the blade mounted the same way twice.

I was all set to order a Veritas guide from Lee Valley:


when it occured to me that one feature of the new one that my existing guide lacked was the ability to set the same distance (and thus angle) each time. So I went to work and built a jig to let me do this.

As near as I can tell, the "preferred" angle for planes is from 25 to 30 degrees. The 25 makes a finer cut but the edge doesn't last as long. And or the 30 can be used to "micro bevel" a 25 degree blade. So now it's just a simple matter of pulling off the blade, slipping it in the jig and about 10 or so passes on 3 grades of wet sand paper, and I'm back to very, very sharp. Since the same angle is repeated, it takes almost no time to sharpen the blades.

BTW, I'm now sporting an arsenal consisting of Stanley #4 and #5 bench planes, and 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 block planes. Absolutely amazing what really sharp blades in these tools can do.




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KEWL!!! That's a pretty neat idea for a guage. Of course, 15 or 20 years from now you'll most likely just do it by hand without the roller guide even, but that's a great idea.

Of all the tools I have in my shop, I'm really addicted to the planes.

Chisels come next :D

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That may be, but I started off trying to sharpen by hand and noticed one side was getting longer than the other. I figured I'd better do something to keep it square.

One of the Stanley's I picked up appears to have had little use, but also had a blade in it that was starting to resemble a propeller....the result of someone's really bad sharpening technique. Probably why it wasn't being used. :roll: It has taken an awful lot of grinding, even on 220 grit paper to get that back to flat.

BTW, I ordered new Hock blades for these guys and visited with Mr. Ron himself about some stuff, and he said to make sure the throat opening was as narrow as could be and still allow the chip to slide through. He mentioned the width of a playing card. Said it would make all the difference in the world.

For what it's worth.

And on the subject of planes, I wish I knew then what I know now. Would have made fitting all those plywood parts so much easier. They are remarkable tools. Even if you are just hacking up plywood.

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That's a great jig! I have one of those honing guides, and always have to look up how much to have extended to equal 25 or 30 degrees.

My problem is even when I get it right, I can never seem to get the right edge on my planes or chisels. I suspect its something in my technique rather than in my tools and jigs, even though I've read a ton about how to sharpen, bought over $100 of sandpaper at a time, etc. I'm eyeing one of those Tormek sharpeners, but I'd absolutely hate myself if I bought it and still couldn't get a sharp edge!

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  • 3 weeks later...

An update. This jig and the honing guide are working fine. What I have also discovered is that Wet/Dry sandpaper is not all that good for doing this type of work. The silicon carbide grit breaks down quickly and starts to disentegrate. You polish but don't cut. What is needed is aluminum oxide papers. 3M and others make really fine (equal to about 10,000 girt and smaller) paper that does cut and polish. You really can shave hairs with this stuff.



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  • 1 year later...

Isn't the Aluminum Oxide papers actually on a cloth?  I am thinking of crocus cloth which was used when I was in the Navy in the 70s and 80s.  That is how we ordered it anyway.  It was used when rebuilding machinery bearing surfaces or valve shafts...things like that.  It polishes really well.  We took a bunch of worn out files, ground the files to shape, and did the final honing with crocus cloth.  It made excellent throwing knives which we used during boarding parties and just messing around. :)

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has anyone tried using a razor strop to dress plane blades? My grandfather used one to keep his planes in top shape after sharpening. he said it took the burrs off the edge and allowed a cleaner cut. Gregg, remind me to never play pirate with you and them throwin knives .

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I don't use a strop but I do have a chunk of leather glued to a small board that I use the same way- I apply the rouge, then strop the iron. Chisels also. REALLY puts that last razor sharpness to the edge.

Mine is about 2 1/2 inches wide and about 10 inches long. Lives in the drawer with the chisels.I also have a round one that I made up for honing my in-canel gouges.

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