Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Planing - Tuning

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To tune a plane, start by removing the blade. On a flat, hard surface, such as a table saw table (cast iron), a 3/8" thick piece plate glass, a Formica table top or other flat surface, place a full sheet of 220 emery (you will need several sheets). Pour on a little water and with even hand pressure using circular strokes, flatten the sole of the plane. This takes a while to complete. You will see the witness marks from the emery and you just keep going until all the factory sanding marks are gone. You don't have to go any finer than 220 grit but some guys like to have a mirror finish and get down to a 400 grit or finer, but I don't think that is necessary as the sole will get scratched immediately in use anyway. The concern here is to get the sole flat.

Next, close the throat plate all the way and make sure the opening slit is square to the sides of the plane and the gap is the same all the way across. You may have to file (8" mill file) the edge the moveable throat plate or the slit in the plane. Be careful on the slit in the plane -- the cast iron is very brittle there.

Next, with everything removed from the plane, lay the blade in position on the anvil and look underneath the blade at the throat opening. Make sure the blade lies flat across the base of the throat opening. If not, remove the blade, and lay the mill file on the anvil and extend it out the throat opening and gently file until the blade lays flat. Check frequently! Put some electrical tape on the file so you don't file down  the anvil and change the blade angle.

Finally, with 220 paper, sand the sides of the plane to get a smooth feel to the grip then sand all edges and corners to remove any sharp areas. You may want to put a coat of lacquer on the sides.

This will give you superbly comfortable and great performing plane. It may take a couple of hours or more on your first one, but it is worth it! Do this to all your block planes and you won't believe the difference it makes in your planing.  (John Long)


I've got another one of my typical rookie questions, thanks for putting up with me.  Another interest of mine is homebrewing, which has an incredible internet list similar in many ways to Rodmakers.  On the Homebrew Digest, when a rookie or lurker asks a basic question it often times turns in to a thread that ultimately fleshes out a new insight unknown to the more experienced brewers.  Anyway, I hope my newbie questions have a similar effect along with helping out lurkers who don't want to ask the stupid questions that I do.  Thanks for hanging in so far...

I bought a new Stanley 9 1/2.  I soled the plane and grooved it.  I sanded the blade slide area where it exits the plane.  I bought a new Hock blade, and sharpened it on the water stone, and flattened the backside.  Before I use the plane, I sight the blade so that it is even (parallel) with the sole and at a depth that will produce the desired cut.  I do this using the lateral adjustment and the depth adjustment.  This has worked fine for me, but I am a little worried because the blade isn't square to the throat opening.  If I look straight down on top of the plane, the edge of the blade is not square to the throat, but is at an angle.  Seems like the edge of the blade should be parallel with the throat.  It looks like one side of the blade should extend deeper on the sole than the other side, producing and angled cut.  However, this doesn't happen, I can plane down to the forms and produce equal sided cross-sections.  Should I be worried about this, and is this normal? 

IMRR - is my rod ruined?  (Kyle Druey)

    This is a classic example of how far Stanley has fallen from the quality level it used to maintain. I have a 60 1/2 that has the same problem, it is because the part of the body the blade rests on where it comes out isn't ground correctly, mine has more metal on one side than the other.  I do hereby warn one and all about planes (even name brands) purchased new at flea markets! Fortunately for me, I bought this marvelous piece of work years ago to use on the job (carpenter), not for rodmaking, so it is no big deal to me, at least it was cheap. Kyle, take the blade out and look at the edge of the opening where the blade sits, it should be an even sharp edge all the way across, if it isn't, either toss it or get out a file and fix it.  (John Channer)

      The blade contact area on the body had one side higher than the other.  I guess that's what I get for buying Chinese made tools.  The $25 difference between the Stanley and the Record looked good at the time, but I have easily spent 5 or 6 hours "tuning" up this bad boy.  Guess my time is worth less than minimum wage these days, sure can tell that by the $0.50 year end bonus I got this year.

      I filed down the blade contact area so that it was even all the way across.  The blade now aligns square to the throat after it has been sighted parallel to the sole.  Thank you.  (Kyle Druey)

        Look at it as knowledge gained, not time wasted. Almost any plane can benefit from tuning. A much more common problem is a heavy paint edge on the bed, which creates the same condition you just corrected.  (Larry Blan)

    It's pretty much normal. Shouldn't be but is. All you need to be concerned with is the iron (blade) edge is square with the surface of the sole.  (Tony Young)


Just got finished working on my Stanley plane, it was giving me fits on keeping the apex on top. Seems like I've always fought it with this plane, and I think I know why. I believe the throat of this plane was not correct, as I filed the throat until the blade depth was even all the way across the sole of the plane. If it is not, it's like tilting the plane and trying to not chase the apex. Some new guys might be fighting this thing like crazy, because of the throat area. Sure this is not new news, but... taking the plane apart, and filing it might keep some guys from becoming too frustrated. (Jerry Andrews)

    On the last rod I attempted to make, the tips came out fine. When I planed the butt, I chased angles till I had no choice but chucking the strips. I am going to flatten the sole and I will file down or sand the throat as someone (Tom Smithwick?) posted on the tips site.  (Mike Canazon)

    That's a very common problem with newer Stanley's and will drive you nuts until you figure it out. I was lucky, I had a bad one for use at work years ago, so I knew to look for it when my first few strips with a new plane didn't come out as expected, sure enough, throat was way out of whack, fixed that and the angles fell in line. Another fine reason to get a Lie-Nielsen.  (John Channer)


How do you know when your plane is properly tuned? For someone who has never been around tools like these before what can I do to make sure my planes are in top working order? I purchased a couple (9 1/2 and 9 1/4) off of eBay and all I have to them so far is to sand out the small gouges on the bottom of the sole on a sheet of glass. But there must be more to it then that.  (Scott Wolfe)

    Keep sanding the bottom on the glass until the whole sole is shiny, many Stanleys don't have flat soles. Another very important thing to check is the throat of the plane where the blade sits, take the blade out and look at where it sits from the bottom side of the plane under magnification and make sure the back of the throat is even all the way across. It is not unusual to find planes that are thinner on one side than the other, this makes it impossible to set the blade right, it will cant to the narrow side no matter how you adjust it. If it is not even, use a file and make it so.  (John Channer)

      Check out the excellent resource by our own Tom Smithwick found here.  (Bob Maulucci)


I was planing last night and noticed that with one of my planes (both the new made-in-England Stanley), no matter how I fiddle with the blade, it always extends more on the left side.  When I was getting down to the last 0.010s, I could only plane with the far left side of the plane.

Now, I JUST flattened and sharpened that blade. I notice that there is some pebbly looking metal where the blade tip touches the plane.

Do I remember someone saying that one should sand this area of the plane to remove machining marks?  Have I answered my own question, here - or is it something EVEN MORE SINISTER???  (Joe West)

    The old Stanleys have a lever that you can use to adjust the squareness of blade to the sole.  Not all planes have them so I'm not sure that the new English Stanleys do. The Stanley clones made by Record do.  (Maybe we are talking the same plane here.)

    I've got a book about planes at home that goes through a procedure for tuning a plane.  Gives you all the real names to the parts of a plane like throat, frog, sole etc.  Actually anywhere that the blade comes into contact with the plane needs to be lapped flat.  On Todd's site, Tom Smithwick has a good article on tuning up a plane and there are other articles floating around in space on the internet.

    Before I would do too much I'd verify that the edge of the blade is square to the side of the blade.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    If you haven't tuned your plane yet, you should do that. You need to flatten the sole of the plane, and on Stanley planes you should also clean up the bed of the plane where the blade rests.  Tom Smithwick has a quick tutorial on Todd Talsma's tips site.

    If you have already flattened the sole, take a close look at the gap between the edge of the blade and the front of  the slot (throat) where the blade protrudes.  If the gap is uniform across the plane and the blade protrudes more on the left side, IE, it will only cut on the left side of the plane, the problem is with the body of the plane.

    Take the plane completely apart and carefully examine the bed, where the blade rests.  If you are lucky and there is some "pebbly looking metal", or some debris from machining on the right side of the bed near the throat of the plane, you may be able to simply remove that with a file.  Use a file, do not sand the bed of the plane.  Do this slowly and carefully, and check you progress frequently.  You need to make sure that you keep the bed perfectly flat.  That's why you can't sand it.

    If there is not debris in the bed of the plane, mic the edge at the back of the throat where the blade rests, and I think you'll find that right side is thicker than the left.  I have both the Stanley 9 1/2, and the Stanley 60 1/2,  both newer models made in England.  When I flattened the sole of the 9 1/2, it took off several thousandths more on one side of the sole near the throat than it did on the other side.  In order to get the blade to take a uniform shaving, I had to skew the blade pretty severely.  You need to file the right side of the bed until the the edge along the back of the throat is uniform in thickness.  I repeat:  you need to do this very slowly and carefully, and check your progress frequently, to make sure that you keep the bed perfectly flat.  (Robert Kope)


I own more than my share of hand planes.  Lately I've been using three different Stanley 9.5's (the old style); and one newer model Stanley G12-020 (modern version 9.5)  I've got several more planes, but those are my everyday "users".

Here's my quandary.  One of the planes is markedly better than the rest.  Not in appearance, but in function.  It isn't the best looking of the four planes.  In fact, it's more worn than any of the others; less Japanning, etc.  But it zips and sings as it cuts it's way through bamboo.  I can change the blades out between planes, and this one plane always comes through as the best.  Never tears a node.  I've examined all of the planes closely to see if I can figure out why this plane is best, but haven't got a clue.  One of the 9.5's is made differently than the rest (not the good one).  The inner area of the sole on which the flat part of the blade rests is 3/4" long.  On the others, it's about 3/8".  The good plane is one of those with the shorter bedding area for the blade.

Any ideas about what might make this plane so superior to the others?  (Harry Boyd)

    I don't know how to explain the difference between planes, but I have somewhat similar experiences.  I have 8 planes that I have used at various times over the last 10 years.  I've gone from the old high carbon blades to standard blades, to Hock blades, to A2 blades, and currently, high speed steel (HSS) blades made by local toolmaker, Alan Taylor.  I just finished the splines for three rods (54 individual splines) using the HSS blades to do the final planing to size.  The shavings on the final sizing are buttery smooth and node tearing just  doesn't seem  to be a problem (yet!)  The HSS blades seem to wear, and wear, and wear. I did touch up the blades midway through the 54 strips, but I'm not sure that it was necessary.  At present I use a 50 year old Bailey #4 1/2 with a A2 blade from Lee Valley to rough the strips down to about .030" oversize.  Then I use a Stanley #9 1/2 with one of Alan's HSS blades to plane to final size.  I've found that fine tuning the plane is crucial to good results.  The plane bottom must be perfectly flat, and the mouth opening must be at exactly 90 degrees to the body of the plane.  It's serendipity when you get a combination that works.  (Ted Knott)

    You get that and it's weird.

    About all I can think is the bed is slightly differently angled so the iron sits in a slightly different way or the bed is better ground so the iron sits in such a way there is less chatter or something like that.

    I get the same with chisels though I think the reason some chisels are better than others is the steel gets compacted with age due to all the pounding which improves them. The better the chisel the more it's used so the better it gets.  I have a very old chisel that is simply a pleasure to use. It's a bench chisel made by an old long defunct Australian company made in a style they called Cast Steel. It's not cast steel of course but is a combination of cast iron and steel sort of like the way Japanese chisels are made but not in a channel as the Japanese chisels are done, these guys laminated the layers one on to the other.  After seeing how well it works I went on a buying binge and collected every one of it's kind I could find but none are as good.

    Did the same thing making chisels from Tojo coil springs. One is superb and I've made about 20 since trying to make more the same. Some are close but none as good though all are what you'd call good to use.  As far as I can tell I'm doing everything the same but they just don't cut the mustard. All I can think is I hammered this chisel more and the steel benefitted for it though anybody who ever made a chisel for a coil spring knows there is a lot of hammering done anyhow. The tempering and annealing and all that is the same so I don't know.  If I can ever get it right I'll be a very happy little chisel maker.  (Tony Young)

    I have had similar experiences. I have one more piece of data to add to the puzzle. I have a Stanley 9.5 that I use for initial tapering and a Lie-Nielsen I reserve for final tapering. The Stanley I had for years, the Lie-Nielsen only a few years. I use the "scary sharp" method followed by water stones for both blades. As time  has passed,  I have  found I  can not  get the Lie-Nielsen to get as sharp as the Stanley. Its gotten so bad I have thought about getting a replacement blade just to understand if is it something  intrinsically different with the blade, or has somehow my sharpening technique failed me. I can recall when I built my first rod, the guy who taught me had dozens of planes. He had 6 Lie-Nielsen's, all the same type. Each one felt different when cutting strips, even if the same person sharpened them. I have come to the conclusion that planes and or their blades are close to human and each one is a bit different even if they have same upbringing.  (Taylor Hogan)

      Is it possible that only the very end of the LN blade is hardened, and you have sharpened enough to get past the hardened part?  Might give Tom a call and see what he says.  (Harry Boyd)

      It may be the plane iron has been sharpened beyond it's hardened edge and you're getting into the annealed part of the iron.  We rodmakers may well be the last holdouts of hand planing in a big way and most people, even cabinet makers wouldn't wear out a plane iron in a life time. I've worn out 2 just from continual re sharpening.  As far as different irons holding edges differently that is quite likely as they'll all have some variation in hardness.  (Tony Young)

    It could be a lot of things.   Try all the measurements.  Length, width, weight. I've got several planes and almost all of them (though 9 1/2's) are different.

    Is the adjustment finer on this plane?  Double check the angle of the blade at rest.  Is it really 20 degrees?  Can you tell if anyone's changed anything on it? For example filed the mouth or made other adjustments?

    Maybe it just likes bamboo.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)


I just picked up a couple of Stanley's off of eBay for my 11 year old son and this is what I did with all of my planes and am in the process of doing for my son's planes.

Get the planes and true up the soles. I use Scary sharp on the blades and pretty much do the same with the soles of the planes.

I made a stop block as explained in Wayne Cattanach's book and that is what I sharpen to.

I noticed that if I push the heat  treating process and go overboard, the cane becomes brittle and tearouts are prevalent but if I keep to within my guidelines (in other words, pay attention to what I'm doing and not something else) I end up with beautiful strips.

I also just use the planes weight and blades depth to do the cutting. I try to not use any downward pressure as I make my passes, all of my pressure is towards forward travel of the plane.

I usually can get a three piece, two tip rod without having to touch up the blade.

I sent this primarily for the newcomer, who might not have the money for a L-N plane. I probably could get a couple, but am perfectly happy with the Stanley's I have.  (Ren Monllor)

    Done did all that.  Well, except for the stop-block - I use the Veritas Sharpening jig.  Problem with the newer Stanleys, is they don't have a very good blade skew adjustment setup.  There's really nothing near the beveled part of the blade to hold it in position while you're monkeying with the little side-to-side lever on the back of the plane.  There does seem to be two small "nubbies" inside the plane body, but they don't extend far enough in to "center" the blade, so there's a bunch of slop both at the front of the blade and at the back of the blade.  Veritas, from what I understand, uses two set screws to adjust the centering of the blade.  Not sure what the L-N plane uses, since I haven't had one in hand, but it could be the design of the plane body, with the frog and spin wheel obviates the need for a skew adjustment.  I guess I'll find out when I get mine.  That was the frustrating part, along with the slop in the depth of cut adjustment.  I've put up with it in the past by farting around with it and tinkering, but it finally got to the point where I decided it just wasn't worth it to me to keep having to compensate for a poorly made and assembled block plane.  (Mark Wendt)

      I agree with every point you've made. That's why I go to eBay to purchase my planes. 20%-30% of the Japanning is gone, the soles are a little rough, but as long as the mechanics of the plane are in good shape, I pick them up.  The newest of the bunch is in real super nice shape, but the sole still needs work.  (Ren Monllor)

      Yeah, I think the guys were maybe understanding you to have an older 9-1/2, but those new ones are just plain inferior.  I have one that I'm using only for hogging on the first 3-4 passes, depending, but once you start getting down there, they're useless, wander all over the place.  It's nice and shiny, while the other two 9-1/2s (the old type) look like old Dodges after a sandstorm, but damnit, they work.  What were they thinking when they came up w/that new design?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  You're going to like the LN.  Ridiculously expensive, but mine maintains micro adjustments about as well as anyone could ask for.  They're narrower, fit my hand and the forms better, seem perfectly balanced somehow and just a joy to use. GSW (Grain of Salt Warning): I've only been using it for about two months now and I'm very new here.  (Bob Brockett)

        Yeah, can't wait for it to arrive.  Probably should have done it years ago, but I'm as stubborn as a mule when it comes to getting things to work.  Had one of the L-N 212's for years, and I know the quality of that plane.  (Mark Wendt)

        It's funny you mention "older stuff".

        I had this super crappy looking floor lamp that I picked up from Lowe's or Home depot about a year, year and a half  ago. It was fluorescent and the head was fully articulating. Cost? Maybe $20..At any rate my daughter broke the base to it early last week, and you wouldn't believe what I went through trying to find a damn floor lamp with a fully articulating head. The one and only lamp place in town had one for a mere $600.00. Well, I went to Joann Fabrics and ordered an Ott 3 in 1 lamp for $125 (50% offregular). Point being,..produce something good, at a reasonable price, sell a couple, then take it of the market.

        $130 more for a lamp that does the same thing....  (Ren Monllor)

    Folks, planes are one of the few topics on this list that I feel qualified to comment on, since I use hand planes for my carpentry, as well. Lie-Nielsen makes very fine tools. I own their scraper plane, since it generally costs less than the Stanley 212. All the other L-Ns cost much more than their less collectible used Stanley brothers. If money is not a great issue, by all means buy the L-N. It will come out of the box a superb instrument, ready to use, and be as good as, or better than anything you can buy or restore. If money is a consideration for you, though, consider the fact that you can tune a 70 or 80 year old Stanley, hot off the yard sale table, to the same performance standards as a L-N, without much effort or talent. This means that you can own multiple  planes, set up with blades, and plane longer without interruption for sharpening, or even a blade change. Today we  can buy plane irons that are demonstrably superior to any made in the past. I own some Hoch blades, and wouldn't part with 'em. But, for the budget minded, the blades from old Stanleys are often capable of taking, and holding a right good edge, if they haven't been sharpened forever, so don't toss them. When I'm planing, the last  thing I want to do is stop to sharpen, so if I come into a decent iron, it goes in the hopper.  (Gary Misch)

      We must've been twins in an earlier incarnation. I've been preaching your sermon for years! I line 'em up and plane till they're ALL dull, then I sharpen 'em all, and I'm off to the races again! I DO save the L-N for the final passes as I really like that baby, but anything else, I do with a Stanley, Millers Falls, Sears or other O-L-D knockoff. I also find that on any given day, 2 or 3 will work waaaaay better than the others, which seem to make up their minds to be difficult that day. I save them for another day, and darned if they don't seem to cooperate!  (Art Port)

        You LawnGuyLanders got way too much time on yer hands.  Obviously.  Why not have one plane and multiple blades, rather than multiple planes each with one blade?  Then you don't have to worry about cranky planes.  That gives you the opportunity to cuss and swear at only one plane.  (Mark Wendt)

          Sort of what I do - 2 Record planes and 2 Lie-Nielsens, one with a 3 thousandths groove, two blades for each plane, with 1 extra L-N blade lurking as a spare spare.  The Records do the rough hucking off of bulk cane, the L-N's the fine and final stuff,

          But I'll tell you a thing - by the time I have finished sharpening all 8 blades (4 Hock and 4 L-N) I am bloody sick and tired of the look and smell of Japanese water stones!  Especially when you add in the blade for the 212 scraper and the blade for the L-N #1 itty bitty bench plane that I like to use for squaring up the sides of the strips prior to straightening.

          Then you fit the blades, adjust and set the cut on each and line them up on the bench - and bloody near cry when you have to pick one up and use it!  (Peter McKean)

            That's why I succumbed to the MHM. But it has a certain learning curve. I also found a UK based diamond sharpening system, that has a bit of slop in it, but sharpens planes really fast.  (Sean McSharry)

            That's too funny!  Since I use a powered rough beveler, I don't have to worry about the "hogging" away on the strips, so most all of my planing is final planing.  I had two Hock blades for POS Stanley, and my pattern is/was use 'em till both need sharpening, sharpen both, insert freshly sharpened blade in POS Stanley, fiddle with the POS Stanley till it has a semblance of a decent cut, and plane till I start feeling more resistance to pushing the plane than I should, take dull blade out of POS Stanley, insert other freshly sharpened blade into POS Stanley, fiddle with POS Stanley till it has a semblance of a decent cut, then repeat sequence.  The fiddlin' with the POS Stanley ended up eating into way too much of my planing time with the POS Stanley.  According to UPS, the POS Stanley will occupy it's new position in the workshop as "doorstop" tomorrow, as the new L-N is to be delivered on 2-17-10.  My fiddlin' days shall soon be over.  (Mark Wendt)

              If my experience (and obviously a lot of the other guys as well) holds up, you will absolutely love the L-N.  I had the unique opportunity to actually buy my L-Ns (4 of them) at their facility in Maine.  And while I was there, I sort of casually asked the guy in the showroom, the same guy that does their demos on youtube, for some sharpening tips.  He proceeded to spend about an hour showing me how they do it.  What an education and what a class outfit!

              I still use my Stanleys early in the process, but what a pleasure to switch to the L-N as I finish up. I got their standard angle and low angle block planes, the 212, and also the little model maker's plane, and would have a hard time parting with any of them.  With my limited level of talent, I need all the help I can get. (Or is that a rather lame excuse for the purchase of tools????)  (Jim Rowley)

              You will find that there is a certain amount of fiddlin' with the LN, too. Most ot the set up time with the LN, at least for me, focuses on getting the depth of cut & side-to-side level set up correctly at the same time.  It seems that once I try to adjust the depth of cut, the side-to-side level is thrown out of whack.  Now, I have an old Stanley Sweetheart (from the 30's?) that is also a real joy to use.  And it took A LOT of tuning to get it set up to where  it takes off just that .001 when you need to.  But the LN is far more accurate & a better tool, IMHO.

              Have fun fiddlin'.  (Paul Julius)

            I have been doing pretty much the same thing, and that is why I finally convinced myself to go ahead and get a Tormek.  Now the sharpening of all those blades is actually a fun process in itself.  And I was not getting anywhere near the sharp edge that the Tormek gives me with any other method. But I am sure that is just because I am not that good with the hand methods, because I watched the guy at L-N gets and amazing edge with water stones.  (Jim Rowley)

              I've got to chime in here as I have DMT monocrystalline diamond stones used with  fine Japanese water stones,  the Tormek and the WorkSharp 3000. Added them to my arsenal in that order and am very proficient in using all three methods.  Guess which sharpening tool(s)  I reach for almost exclusively anymore?

              Yup, it's the WorkSharp.  (Jim Sency)

            You have just put your finger on the main reason I got the WorkSharp 3000! The biggest PITA there is that many of the blades have different widths and the channel must be reset for each. And if THAT's a problem, you have too good a life! it takes about 5 seconds to adjust. For THAT ease I also gave up my 37 degrees for 35!  (Art Port)

    Just generally..........

    I've tuned a few Stanleys, and cheap copies(!) now. I don't find that flattening the sole is as much important as lapping every moving part to flatness, especially the mouth on which the blade sits on the sole. You do this by blackening the faces over a candle and seeing where the high spots are when you move the blade in and out.

    The internal slide for the adjustment is always lamentably rough too, and difficult to get at, just use a file, it helps to get that fine blade adjustment when you only want to take a gnatscock off.

    It does take time, but teaches you about precision.

    Then you get a great big thick blade off Mr Iles for hogging and a Hock cryo for final finishing and set them up to as step an angle as you dare. They don't rip the nodes out then, and are just as good on nodeless, and they blunt much more slowly on nodeless.

    I can give you the extensions if you want them but it depends on the guide you use, mine come from Axminster tools in the UK, but I think you can get the angles by reading Maurer and Elser.  (Robin Haywood)


Boy, do I feel like a goof.  Yep, even more than I usually do.  For those of you who still plane by hand, tune those planes.  I grabbed a plane that I hadn't tuned up yet.  Couldn't figure out why I was having so many tear outs.  Had the blade razor sharp at the correct angle and everything.  Finally laid a straight edge on the sole and realized I could just about drive a truck under the straight edge.  It was so bad I actually rough ground it with my belt sander.  Finally got it to about .002" within flat and gave her a whirl.  What a difference!  By the time I am finished with it, it will be completely flat and polished.

Just shows that you can't save time by not taking time to get set up correctly.  Over looking one little detail almost cost me several strips of Bamboo and what little sanity I have left.  (Pete Emmel)

    Had the blade razor sharp at the correct angle and everything.

    As I mentioned on another board this morning, I do enjoy playing the "Devil's Advocate" every once in a while, and today I get two shots at it!!

    How about posting for the benefit of all, I know there are some "newbies" on here, how to determine when the plane blade is razor sharp? (Let's see how many know the correct answer!)  (Frank Schlicht)

      When your mommy takes it away so you won't get hurt.  Or when it's sharp enough to remove follicular forestry from your forearm.  Whichever comes first.  (Bob Brockett)

    To satisfy the curiosity of the two who have been busy guessing, here is how I was taught to do it for both the microtome blades I used and the straight razor that I shaved with for over 20 years.

    You first stroke the hair of your forearm against the grain, so that it stands up. You the move the blade across the hair tips only about 1/4" down. Bob B. guessed shaving the arm. You do not want to cut the trees down,; you want to 'top' them. If you cannot cut just the tips off. the blade is not yet razor sharp. Another test is to take a sheet of newsprint, the grayish stuff, not the slick glossy add type, and loosely hold it up by one corner and try to cut into it at about a 45 degrees. downward angle, about halfway down the edge. If it will cut into newsprint, it is good to go. The final test was not for sharpness, but rather to check for burrs and any edge irregularities. Moisten a thumbnail and barely touch the nail with the blade and slowly pull the blade across the thumb nail. If there are any irregularities along the edge, you will definitely feel it, if you have any feeling in the thumb at all.

    If you have to go to the base of the hair to cut it, the blade is not yet 'razor sharp'.

    You can confirm what I have just said by trying all of these things with a double edged razor blade fresh out of the package.

    Now for a quick related story.

    Straight razors were once known as a "pat hand' in a poker game here in the south. One Saturday night, one of the members of a foursome accused another of cheating. A very heated argument ensued, until finally the accuser took out his straight razor and leaned across the table and took a swipe at the accused. Th accused chortled and said: "You missed!" to which the accuser, and razor wielder, replied: "Let me see you turn your head!"  Now fellas, that's razor sharp!  (Frank Schlicht)

      Frank:  let me be the first to admit that when I am finished sharpening my plane irons......they are not "razor" sharp.  I don't think I could get it to "top" my arm hairs.

      Does anybody have any experience romancing bamboo with one of those Borg block Planes?  Any thoughts?

      I was having some trouble with my new model Stanley 9 1/2 with a Hock blade until I ground the back of the blade round to fit the cap plate profile.  Now I don't continually tilt the plane away from me because the square corner no longer digs into the palm behind my thumb causing discomfort when trying to hold the plane level.

      Just continuing my learning adventure.  (Gary Young)


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