I’ll outline the five steps I take to successfully sharpen hand planer blades in this article. Thanks to that one extra step I add to the process, which I’ll tell you later in this article, I’ve been able to go one step further and make the hand planer blade sharper than ever.
Before explaining in full how to sharpen a plane blade, I’ll run through all the necessary steps in brief.
The steps I take to sharpen a plane blade are:
- Flatten the back of the blade
- Sharpen the primary bevel
- Make a micro bevel
- Make a camber
- Remove the burr on the back
- Polishing the blade
You may learn all there is to know about sharpening hand plane blades in this post. To accomplish this, I compiled a list of materials, addressed a few frequently asked questions to help you understand the process of sharpening plane iron, and went into greater detail about each step.
Recognize that hand plane blade sharpening improves with practice. Start practicing your skills on an old blade before moving on to sharpening the plane blades you use regularly for your tasks after you have the hang of the techniques.
- Why does a hand plane blade need to be sharp?
- How to sharpen a plane blade
- Tools list
- Watch the video here & learn how sharpen a plane blade
- Sharpen a plane blade step #1: Flatten the back
- Sharpen a plane blade step #2: Sharpen the primary bevel
- Sharpen a plane blade step #3: Making a micro bevel
- Sharpen a plane blade step #4: Making a camber
- Sharpen a plane blade step #5: Removing the burr
- Sharpen a plane blade step #6: Polishing
- How do you re-sharpen a plane blade
- How to maintain a hand plane blade
- Take your hand plane to the next level
Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.
Why does a hand plane blade need to be sharp?
You want your hand planer blade to be as sharp as possible for 3 reasons: so it does not gouge the wood’s surface and makes clean cuts, you will have to use less effort, and a sharp hand plane blade is much safer than a dull blade.
The hand plane blade will cut through the wood more effectively and provide a clean cut if it is sharper. An additional benefit, in addition to a clean cut, is that the hand plane will need to be used with far less force to cut through the wood.
In other words, having sharper hand plane blades will enable you to work with less effort and for a longer period of time.
Safety is the third factor, but why is a blunt hand plane riskier than a sharp one?
Well, a dull blade will not slide properly along the surface and will tend to slip, even though it still feels sharp. The rapid speed when shooting away and the sharp tip of the plane blade can inflict damage if you exert a lot of force at that moment (more than you would need to apply to a sharp hand plane blade).
In any case, hand planes, and various other instruments in the woodworking industry, are hazardous and pointy. So make sure you’re always ready for accidents by keeping a first aid kit in your workshop. My post, How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST, contains all the advice you need to put together the ideal first aid kit for a woodworking shop.
How to sharpen a plane blade
In this section, I’ll go through the tools you’ll need and a step-by-step procedure for sharpening hand plane blades. In the video and pictures, you can see that I utilized my hand tool sharpening jig.
Sharpening chisels and plane iron is simple and secure with this jig. The neatly arranged arrangement of all the equipment on the board will help you save a ton of time while sharpening hand plane blades.
In my blog post How to Make a Sharpening Jig for Hand Tools – FREE PLANS, you can read how I made this jig for my workshop and download the free plans.
Watch the video here & learn how sharpen a plane blade
Here you can watch the video and see how to sharpen a hand plane blade.
After watching the video, you can continue reading the step-by-step guide to sharpen a plane iron yourself.
In this first half of this article, I will show you how to sharpen a plane blade for the first time. So if you buy a new hand planer or a new hand plane blade, these are the steps you should take to make your plane blade ready for use.
In the second part I show you how to re-sharpen the plane blade in a quick and easy way. This process only take a few minutes if you have set your plane blade as I will show you in the first part of this article.
But before we dive into these steps, l have two tips for you that you should apply every time you start sharpening.
First, soak your water stones in water until they stop bubbling. It is super important that the water stones are always wet. In between I have this small water nebulizer that I use to keep the stones wet.
The second tip is to flatten the water stones. I do this by drawing a grid on the stone with a pencil, placing my diamond stone on it, and rubbing it until the pencil marks are gone. That way you are sure you can start with a perfectly flat water stone and achieve the best results.
Sharpen a plane blade step #1: Flatten the back
I begin flattening the back of a new plane blade. I accomplish this by massaging my back repeatedly on the water stone.
I use my 400 grit stone and massage continuously until the back of the blade is perfectly sharp. Since the back never touches the wood, you don’t need to go any finer than this. It must be flat in order to produce a tip that is straight.
Sharpen a plane blade step #2: Sharpen the primary bevel
The primary bevel is sharpened in the following phase. An angle of 25 degrees must be maintained when creating a primary bevel. I do so by using the spacers I installed on my sharpening jig and my honing guide.
I’ve outlined the most crucial details in the chart below to assist you with the various measurements needed to adjust your honing guide to the proper angle. The same details may also be found in my post on creating a hand tool sharpening jig (with FREE plans).
|Chisel Primary bevel||40 mm / 1.57″||25-degree|
|Chisel Micro bevel||30 mm / 1.18″||30-degree|
|Plane iron Primary bevel (low angle plane, 12 degree bed plane)||50 mm / 1.96″||25-degree|
|Plane iron Micro bevel||38 mm / 1.49″||30-degree|
I start with the 400-grit water stone to sharpen the main bevel. I position the blade so that it completely contacts the stone and make around 30 strokes. I continue using stones with grits of 1000, 3000, and 8000 after confirming that the bevel is flat.
Turning the water stone occasionally is a helpful suggestion I can make in this situation. This will stop the stone from losing its integrity on one side while maintaining it on the other. You can employ the water stone to its fullest extent in this fashion.
Sharpen a plane blade step #3: Making a micro bevel
The third step is to make a micro bevel. For that, I adjust the honing guide so that the angle now changes from 25 degrees to 30 degrees.
I start again with the 400 grit stone for about 30 strokes and when a small micro bevel forms I move to 1000 grit stone. When I see that the entire surface of the micro-bevel is even, I switch to 3000 grit and then 8000 grit stone.
Sharpen a plane blade step #4: Making a camber
The fourth step is to make a camber. This is the crucial step I talked about at the beginning of this article. Very exaggerated, this means that you get the blade the shape of a bow, like you can see on the picture above. This shape will prevent the corners from digging in while overlapping.
The way I do this, with the honing guide still set to 30 degrees, is by placing my fingers on the corners of the blade and applying pressure to one side. This way I do 5 strokes, and then I switch the pressure on the other side and do 5 strokes again.
Sharpen a plane blade step #5: Removing the burr
For this, I use the ruler trick. It’s a trick I’ve seen many other people do, and it simply involves placing a thin piece of metal, like for example a ruler, on the edge of the water stone.
Place the plane blade on top of it, keeping the tip just inside the edge of the water stone and rubbing it back and forth. I usually do 30 strokes on the 1000 grit stone and 30 strokes on the 8000 grit stone.
Sharpen a plane blade step #6: Polishing
When you polish the tip of the hand plane blade, small scratches will be removed and making the blade even sharper. To do this, you need to place the blade on the leather strop and find the right angle. Press the blade into the leather and make a few strokes, working backward. I usually do between 20 and 30 strokes.
Keep in mind that this creates a micro burr at the back, so now you need to make a few strokes at the back as well. Once done, your blade will be razor sharp.
How do you re-sharpen a plane blade
Now, whenever I begin using a new blade, I go through all the instructions you just read. Re-sharpening the micro-bevel, the back, and polishing the blade’s tip are all that are necessary for re-sharpening.
I choose the appropriate grit to start with based on the damage. I use the 3000 grit stone for 30 strokes, followed by the 8000 grit stone for 30 strokes, if there is no damage and only resharpening is required. You will need to start with the 400 grit stone and work your way up until you reach the 8000 grit stone if the blade’s tip has more damage.
I employ the same method with the ruler on the 8000 grit stone as I did in step #5 to remove the burr on the back. The only thing left to do is polish the leather strop, as described in step #6.
How to maintain a hand plane blade
Once you have a hand plane blade, you must take care of it properly to keep it as sharp as possible for as long as possible. So here are two crucial recommendations I have for you:
When not in use, put your hand planes in a location where an object cannot touch the blade in order to keep the cutting edges sharp. On a workbench, a hand plane shouldn’t be left alone. It’s too likely that it will sustain damage if it drops to the ground or gets knocked off the workbench.
To avoid corrosion, grease them. But be careful here; the oil shouldn’t be dripping off. I rub the plane blade with a nice, clean towel that has had WD40 put on it. By doing this, rust is stopped in its tracks and a thin film of oil is ensured to cover the metal. Every time I set the hand plane aside, I repeat this process.
Make your chisels as sharp as your hand plane!
It’s critical to maintain the sharpness of your chisels in addition to using a hand plane. They are two hand instruments that can have a significant impact on both the effort required to use them and the outcome.
You may learn how to make your chisel razor sharp in this concise and useful guide, “How to Sharpen Chisel Until They Are Razor Sharp.” A requirement for every skilled woodworker who enjoys standing out and making a difference.
Take your hand plane to the next level
To make your hand plane even better, now that you know how to sharpen a plane blade, is to make the sole of the hand plane flat. This is an important step to achieve the best results, and I show you why, when, and how I flatten the sole of a hand plane in this step by step guide.
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Building a workshop can be daunting, filled with trial and error. Believe me, I’ve been in those shoes.
But it was “The Ultimate Small Workshop” course, a gem I discovered and now endorse on Christofix.com, that provided insights unparalleled to any other. This expertise empowered me to invest wisely and save substantially.
I really suggest it to all of my fellow DIYers and creators!
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration