Maintaining A Block Plane

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

maintaining a block plane

How to Maintain A Block Plane

I recently reviewed a low angle block plane for Stanley Tools. The addition of this new plane to my shop motivated me to take stock in my other shop hand planes and to sharpen the blades.

Let’s face it, a dull hand plane is a useless hunk of metal not worthy for a paper weight!

Tuning up a hand plane is not a quick process, it’s time consuming, boring and as a result many people do not do it or skip steps.

Stanley 12-138 Bailey No.9-1/2 Block Plane

Square Blade and Get Angle Close

I use a grinding wheel to roughly square off the blade and to remove any damage to the iron. The goal is to get a consistent, clean bevel.

Grinding the blade iron square and back to 25 degrees. When done correctly I should have a reasonably sharp angle with a consistent burr on the back edge.

While doing this, I frequently dip the plane iron into water to keep it cool.

maintaining a block plane

maintaining a block plane

Sharpen The Blade

The next item in maintaining a block plane is to sharpen the blade. I use a wood jig I made to guide me in obtaining the correct grinding angle in order to sharpen the blade.

The jig has a 25 degree bevel on one side and a 30 degree bevel on the other. I like to sharpen the plan iron to a 25 degree bevel with an additional micro bevel at 30 degrees.

maintaining a block plane

I use this inexpensive sharpening guide to help me keep the correct angle on my 6000 grit oil stone.

The guide allows me to keep the plane iron at the right angle.

maintaining a block plane

Sharpening Jig Helps Keep Accurate Bevel

My wood jig helps me set up the sharpening guide to make sure that I keep the correct angle. It’s very important to sharpen at the correct angle.

Once the blade is secured in the guide at the correct angle I oil my stone lightly and rub the plane iron back and forth to polish and further sharpen the edge.

maintaining a block planemaintaining a block plane

Hone Back Of Blade Flat

After sharpening the iron bevel I remove it from the sharpen guide and turn the plane over and hone the back of the iron flat.

I’m looking to eliminate the burr created on the back of the iron as a result of sharpening the bevel edge. Once it’s gone I polish the back to a mirror finish with a 6000 grit stone.

Honing the blade on my wet stone. This stone is a much finer grit and further sharpens and polishes the irons bevel.

maintaining a block plane

maintaining a block plane

Micro Bevel

After all this is complete I then hone a 30 degree micro bevel onto the 25 degree bevel edge with the 6000 grit stone. This extra bevel creates a stronger edge and keeps the blade sharper longer!

Below I am using my 25 degree jig to set the tool guide on my 120 grit aluminum-oxide sharpening stone.

The first step is to check the sole [bottom cutting surface] of the plane with a straight edge. If it is not flat you then have to sand, or “lap,” the sole flat.

When I lap the plane sole, I use 220 grit silicone carbide sandpaper on my table saw tabletop. I lubricate the paper with a small amount of water and detergent or sometimes I use mineral oil. When finished the sole should have a polished look to it.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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