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A sharp blade is also a tremendous time saver in hand planing.  Sharp enough to shave with is dull!  You should get a plane blade so sharp that you can’t feel it pull when you cut off a few arm hairs.  I use a honing guide and waterstones to get my blades that sharp.  (Darryl Hayashida)


Keep your blades sharper than sharp and don't be lazy about keeping them that way.  (Ralph MacKenzie)


I’ve got me a citchyashun.  Petrified bamboo!  Though I haven't tried everything, my planes won't plane.  With a rough bevelled piece in the form, I advance a newly sharpened blade while test cutting for shaving thickness. Nothing. then suddenly, with some  force applied downward, a 0.020" shaving and a torn-out node.  Then, without changing the blade advance, I run the plane over the bamboo and it slides as if over HSS, with about the same material removal (0.00000).

Examination of the edge shows little dings, as if I were trying to cut metal (in the center of the blade),  and visible to the naked eye.  Resharpen (55 degrees), same thing.

Got any ideas? Lie-Nielsen blades, by the way.  (Wally Murray)

    Something's wrong here.  Have you tried your plane on another piece of bamboo to check for depth of cut?  Do you have the front foot of the plane opened so there's a slight gap between the blade and the foot?  Do you have the blade in upside down?

    Is your blade really sharpened to 55 degrees?  If so, that may well be your problem.  Add that 55 degrees to the 20 degree bedding angle, and you're at 75 degrees, or, approaching scraper dimensions.  (Harry Boyd)

      What makes this so puzzling is that this is the result I get with 3 blades in two planes on four pieces of bamboo, the last not flamed but oven treated.  I used angles of attack at both 50 degree (by mistake) then 55 degree (bevel up).  Admittedly, both planes have tunnels, but have done good work in the past.  I have two untunneled planes that I intend to try when I get back this afternoon.  And I'll try all on a piece of pine as well. Will report results.  (Wally Murray)

    I've run into similar problem occasionally. Sometimes the grain of the cane is running away from the blade. Not for it's full length but nearly always near the thickest part. The plane will glide over the cane w/o taking off anything and then grab.

    Try reversing the strip and forms and planing from the opposite end for a couple of swipes. Had a strip do much the same thing yesterday and once I had planed it "backwards" a while, I reversed it again and things returned to normal. And my blades were sharp.  (Don Anderson)

      While doing business in town this morning, I set my subconscious to work on the planing problem, aided by questions from Harry and Leonard, and Don's observations.  The only thing that I could think of that was different from my normal procedure was adding the emulsifiable cutting fluid that I use on the lathes and Bridgeports (you know, the light blue stuff)to the water that I wet the stones, et. al., with.  Dumped it out, washed the container, and proceeded to sharpen with plain water, as suggested by Barry Mayer.

      At this point you may be expecting me to report stellar thousandth and a half curls cascading to the floor.  Instead, I have before me splinters that were lifted by the plane (ALONG WITH thousandth and a half curls) that measure 8 thousandths by 25 thousandths by 6 inches long.

      The glue lines will be horrendous.

      I think I have a combination of an anomalous culm, as Don has suggested, aggravated by too aggressive flaming.

      Be that as it may, I don't plan on wasting any more time on this stick. Much as it hurts, this bamboo is going to the brush pile.

      As for taking pictures of the rig, wish I could do that, and save a thousand words.  But I'm still in the 35mm world.

      Anyway, thank you all for your time and consideration. It did move me forward.  (Wally Murray)

        Try planing wet.  Soak the strip for two or three days, then plane away.  The difference is night and day.  You can plane the strips down til your .025 to .050 oversized, then dry & heat treat.  You might still have a problem getting the strips down to final dimensions, but maybe not, and you can always use sandpaper and a scraper to hit your final numbers.  (Chris Obuchowski)

        It sounds like one of these things:  Flamed the pole too hard, the plane sole is not flat or your taking too much off per pass.  (Gary Nicholson)

          I think the first.  I had trouble while test planing getting a read on the cut.  I finally set the blade to take a thou and a half on some pine. Still no luck. As for the planes, I flattened them, then tunneled them, then checked for flatness again using the layout equipment here in the shop when they were new. That was a lot of planing ago, and it's probably a good idea to recheck the tools again.  I relevel my machines at least once a quarter, and they do wander and wear. 

          My flaming was probably heavy handed, and it was done 3 years ago, at least on that stick.

          Thanks for the reminder; I think it's tune-up time.  (Wally Murray)

            Yes, you're right Wally. It's no good simply flattening once and thinking that's OK. You need to recheck from time to time. Stress in the metal casting can cause distortion. It sounds like you have over cooked the cane. You will find it a lot less work to get the rough planing out the way before you heat treat next time. Do the bulk of the work before you temper. It's a lot more easy to plane soft wood than hard wood.  (Gary Nicholson)

              Amen. I was trying to achieve a "flamed" look, so I torched the raw culm. Too much. I personally prefer light rods and may just stick to them.  Never seem to have a problem with 'em.

              As for the tools, tomorrow I plan to devote to "leveling" them up.  (Wally Murray)

                I went thru a similar difficulty several years ago. I was using water stones at the time and did not realize the stones cupped so readily. My blades were not getting sharpened in the middle of the blade. They stayed burred up in the middle. Maybe "leveling" the tools, if I understand you, might be a good point to fall back to. I do not know how experienced you are in this rod building calamity which joins us all together.  So if this is too simple I beg your pardon. I have found the best way to check for sharpness is to turn the blade under the light and see if I catch a glint off the cutting edge of the blade. I do this then lap the blade on a leather strop. I am certain you will work thru this and will have conclusions to share. I have found these sort of dicoveries tend to be more simple in nature than complicated. I am anxious to hear your results.  (Timothy Troester)

                  I was misleading when I mentioned "stones".  Actually, I get the best results (for me, anyway) from using progressively finer sandpaper on float glass.  The final touch is a kiss from a leather wheel chucked up in the little lathe.

                  Fundamentals, again.

                  I haven't been inspecting the actual edge,  simply trusting the good ole process to do the job.  I have no excuses as I have a great inspection microscope for grinding lathe tools.

                  I'm also going to take a real good and careful look at the squareness and trueness of the Veritas sharpening jig that I rely on rather much.  Who knows?  (Wally Murray)

                    You know, Wally (that's a VERY Australian name, by the way) I have been planing things, with varying degrees of precision, for most of my life and I am 64 years old,  but a couple of years ago I quite suddenly found that I could not take shavings with my Lie-Nielsen #2 bench plane.

                    It bloody near drove me crazy, and for a couple of weeks I adjusted every damn thing I could frog, throat blade angle, tension, you name it, and it was starting to get to me a wee bit, like I was almost foaming at the mouth.

                    In the end I packed up the whole bloody thing and sent it  off to  Tom Lie-Nielsen with a pleading note, and it came back good as gold.  Tom had simply reset the stuff I had got all out of whack, and told me that my basic trouble was related to my having sharpened the blade with too steep an angle, which was quite true, as I was doing it on the same jig setting that I use for my block plane irons.  The shoulder of the iron was riding the blade off the surface of the job, just.

                    Now that will not be your problem, I know, as the bench planes work with their bevel down, but the message is just intended to cheer you up - it will turn out to be a simple problem and you will sort it out in the end.  (Peter McKean)

                      The Wally bit (Wallace) is most recently three generations old, but originates (so it is said) with William Wallace as we are Scot Murrays, coming to the New World in the 1600's.  Thus, rather than foam at the mouth, I should paint my face blue and attack the Lie-Nielson factory.  But that's probably a violation of the Homeland Defense Act.  Any room for another Wally down under?

                      But first, I'll check things from ground up because I suspect I'm missing something simple. 

                      Your story suggests to me that it wouldn't hurt to draw out the progression of angle creation, step by step.  That's saved me a lot of machine time in the past.

                      Then I'll send it back.   (Wally Murray)

                      By the way, I just checked which way MY bevels faced.  That's not it.  (Wally Murray)

                      I've been reading this thread with some amusement at your expense. I apologize for that. Reading Peter's story, which he didn't intend as a possibility, and your response below made me realize that the problem of the cutting edge of the blade being held off of the cane is perfectly consistent with your description of the problems you've been having. Is there any possibility that you may have sharpened the back edge of the blade even a couple of strokes, and have a microbevel on the back of the blade?  (Robert Kope)

                        I think Peter underestimates his contribution to resolving my frustration. One of the things I intent to take a close look at is those very edges. While I do a quick back polish when I sharpen, some of these edges still look funky to my naked eye.  Perhaps something in the plane alters the way the edge is presented to the material.

                        Advancing the edge incrementally has usually resulted in a sudden gouge of 8 thousandths or better.  Does sound like angle, doesn't it.

                        And we're not talking nuclear war here, so let's, indeed, have  some fun with it.  Even at my expense, the cost is worth it.  (Wally Murray)

    Hey, I've done that!  The strip was lifting in the form, so that could be it, maybe.  I'm not sure what your plane iron angle is.  I use 32 degrees and a 20 degree bed for a total of 52.  I don't use a microbevel.  I rarely chip nodes.  Sometimes I skew the plane at nodes, but not often enough to consider ir a practice.  Not the blade btw. LN is good.  The only blade Ron Hock won't compete with, per Ron.  (Leonard Baker)


I have been searching Google for information on sharpening router bits. I have a 5/8 fingernail used for reel seats which two cutting edges flat on the back side which look like they could easily be sharpened by using a flat stone or a diamond paddle.

Has anyone had any experience with this? I'm looking for experiences and advice from those who have tried it.  Some sources say you can sharpen a router bit up to five times. Others say you have to take your bits to a professional sharpener who has special expensive tools etc.

Diamond paddles look like the way to go; the sell for about the price  of a new bit and would be well worth it, it seems.  (Dick Steinbach)

    I understand it can be done, but I've always been afraid to try it.  The trouble is, if you don't take exactly the same amount of carbide off each wing, the bit will be unbalanced.  NOT a good thing at 25,000 rpm.  (Neil Savage)

    Drag out the phone book and look for a cutter/grinder. They already have the tools, and if you get lucky and find a good one, they will come back better than new. (Larry Blan)

      Once I made a diamond grinder by asking a professional diamond grinder maker.  They will make diamond grinder in any shape. The shape was like a donut which has 5/8 inch curve outside, also has a shank at the center of the donut.

      This is used on the mill by turning.  A router bit is placed in a precise angle on the cross table of the mill and moved in one direction, for sharpening. This is done twice for each opposite blade of the router bit. The ordered diamond grinder cost(ed) about 500.00 US$.  (forgot the precision)

      The precision of diamond grinder is controlled by the roughness of diamond powder which is mixed in the grinder.  By the more precise grinder, the more sharp and smoother the result is.  and cost the more.

      The control of fixing a router bit in a correct angle on the cross table, is the key.  Exact and precise positioning tool is needed.

      As a result, I found it reasonable to purchase a new router bit.  (Max Satoh)


In the search for ever sharper irons, it occurs to me that I have never read or heard of using a back bevel on a block plane iron. Anybody use a back bevel? How does the edge created hold up?  What angle is a proper back bevel ground to and what sort of jig is useful in making this bevel?  Winter is on its way here in Southern Colorado, 18 degrees the past three mornings! (Ray Wright)

    Take a look at the Veritas® Mk. II Honing Guide instructions will answer most of your questions. Back bevels/micro-bevels hold up well and allows you to hone micro-bevels quickly.  (Don Schneider)

      But I don't think he means "micro bevel".  I think he means a "back" bevel, which I think would just introduce one more variable into a craft already fraught with variables.  (Peter McKean)

        You're right Peter. I should have been more clear. The tool I mentioned will do both back bevel & micro bevel. The back bevel is on the leading edge of the iron and the micro bevel is on the trailing edge. The back bevel is used to increase the attack angle of the iron to ease tear out. The micro bevel gives you less edge metal to cope with when touching up the sharpness of the iron. Personally I'd use a  plane body that would give a steeper angle before I'd use a back bevel.  (Don Schneider)

          I thought you had the two mixed up, until I started looking into it and realized that most woodworkers are dealing with bench planes rather than block planes.  The back side of the blade (opposite the primary bevel) is the leading edge when planing.  On block planes, the micro-bevel increases the angle of attack in addition to reducing the amount of metal you need to remove to do a touch up.

          For block planes, I could see a couple of benefits to using a back bevel.  It would eliminate the need for flattening the back of the blade, reduce the amount of metal you need to remove when sharpening the blade, and provide more metal behind the edge, possibly making the edge hold up better and thus reducing the frequency of sharpening.  (Robert Kope)

    Over the weekend I have experimented with back beveling a block plane blade and I have been encouraged by the results.  The bevel is ground on the opposite side from the primary bevel, thus, on a block plane, it is the trailing edge and does nothing to affect the cutting angle.  I do most of my sharpening on a WorkSharp 3000, so I had to pull out the waterstones and Veritas jig to apply the back bevel.  I cut it at 10 degrees and it only took a few minutes. I must say that the iron was as sharp as any I have done before. I am planing strips to a primary taper and was able to plane 6 strips without resharpening, so not bad. I was interested in the back bevel primarily to reduce the amount of metal that needed to be removed when the plane edge was nicked, it seems to accomplish that.  At any rate an experiment worth trying and I see no fatal flaws yet, will continue to play with it. (Ray Wright)

    I feel I get a sharper iron using the the honing guide and the 3 grades of micron abrasive 8x11 sheets from Lee Valley.

    I use Grizzly's granite surface plate.

    To hold the micro sheets on the surface plate just put some water on the plate and the sheet doesn't move around. When finished just rinse with water and hang the sheets up to dry.

    This setup, to me,  gives a better edge than the WoodSharp 3000. I just use the 3000 when changing angles and then sharpen with the honing guide as stated above.  (Don Schneider)


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