Well, to date we have found an inexpensive vintage plane. We disassembled it, learned what the parts are, cleaned and de-rusted it, and made any necessary repairs. The next step to putting this plane back to work is to sharpen the iron/blade and fit the capiron.

No matter how pretty your tool looks if its cutting edge is not sharp it will never work properly. Sharpening is the key to making any cutting tool work as it was designed to. Whenever you encounter a problem cutting with a tool the first thing you should do is to sharpen it.

If you have been around hand woodworking tools for any time you know that there are as many methods of sharpening as there are hand tool woodworkers. The key to an enjoyable hand tool experience is picking a sharpening method that best suits your budget and needs and sticking with it until you become proficient.

The time wasted trying all the latest, greatest methods and equipment is better spent mastering the method you started with. Leave the atomic powered laser sharpener on the tool suppliers shelf, at least until you have mastered the system you began with. Then, and only then will you have the knowledge and experience to know what to look for in order to make your sharpening system even more efficient.

 

The first step in sharpening an old plane iron is grinding the bevel. I like to use a 6″ pedestal/bench grinder with a blue medium grit wheel.

The 6″ wheel produces a slightly deeper hollow grind than an 8″ and because of the smaller circumference producing less surface feet per minute it runs cooler. The blue alumina zirconia abrasive also grinds cooler than other abrasive media.

I recommend a smooth, wide tool rest for best results. The tool rests that come with most grinders are useless for precision tool grinding. I made my own using flat ground mild steel. There are good commercial tool rests available if you would rather purchase them. Veritas has what appears to be a good one and Wolverine, made by Oneway also has a good one. I can highly recommend the Wolverine. I have been using one in my turning shop for several years and find it to be an excellent tool rest.

Set your grinder to grind a bevel angle of 25. If you color the bevel with a black Sharpie it is easy to see where your wheel is grinding on your existing bevel. Using a protractor set to 25 you can see where you need to grind to produce the desired angle. Here is a short video on bevel grinding.

When grinding be careful not to blue any part of the cutting edge unless the blade is made from high speed steel. This will take the hardness out of that spot that is blued and this spot will not hold and edge.

I use diamond plates to flatten the back of the iron starting
with the black/course plate.

Once you have the bevel ground to 25 you are ready for the next step which is to flatten the back of the iron. I use diamond lapping plates for this. Start with the black very course plate. This is about 220 grit.

Flattening the back of an iron.

The picture above shows the method I use. Holding the iron at a slight angle to the plate and keeping equal pressure across the cutting edge with your fingers while supporting the other end with your right hand move the iron back and forth along the length of the plate and move it in and out from about 5/8″ to 1 1/2″.