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Maintaining A Block Plane

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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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