How to Sharpen Hand Planer Blades

How to Sharpen Hand Planer Blades

Your hand planer obviously gets regularly used for months or years on end before you realize that it needs to be “tuned and sharpened.” For the best possible woodworking results, you need to sharpen your hand planer blades regularly.

Trying to shape wood with worn-out and dull blades makes the job twice as hard not to mention getting a poor result at the end of your wood working project. So here today you will learn how to sharpen hand planer blades perfectly and what products you will need to do so.

There are numerous methods you can use to sharpen your hand planer blades, but two of the most common and easy ways we will be discussing below. One simple way involves the use of various dry or wet grits of sandpaper on a leather strip and a buffing compound.

Another method involves the use of the honing guide making the process much easier. Learning how to sharpen your hand planer blades really is not that difficult or complicated once you have the know how and of course the tools required.

Method One: Sand Paper and Buffing Compound

This process of sharpening your planer blades involves the removal of metal from your blades. While the sandpaper is great at removing that metal, it can make marks on the blade. Every time you grit, the number of marks increase. Hence, the buffing compound comes into play. It will remove those marks and polish the blade to result in a sharp and shiny blade.

Materials Required:

Steps

Firstly, take apart the hand plane by loosening the screw. Make sure the blade is clean and that you remove any paper shims if they are present. The paper shims are used to close the gap between the blade and the plane body.

Since the sandpaper sheet is 9″ x 11″, you will have to cut them into thin strips, using the 220 grit paper first. Put that strip onto a flat table top.

Next, hold and keep the bevel side of the plane on top of the sandpaper and pull the plane backward four to five times. You have to apply light pressure as you pull the plane each time along the strip.

Now, turn over the blade with the bevel side facing upwards. Place the tip on the paper and keep the other tip slightly elevated. Pull the blade again, along the whole strip, four to five times. Doing this will make a tiny bevel or curve on that side of your blade.

Some people prefer keeping the back side of the blade flat, but the micro bevel is better for basket making. Both ways, it is your personal choice.

You will the above process by using a 320-grit, a 400-grit and eventually a 600-grit sandpaper. Every time you change the sandpaper, ensure that you remove any grit visible on the blade.

Take red buffing compound and rub it on the leather strip. After that, place the bevel side on the leather strip and pull backward along the entire length four to five times. Repeat for the back of the blade in the same manner as before. Your blade should be quite sharp as of now.

Finally, to test the sharpness of the blade, use the blade on a newspaper. A ragged cut means that blade is not clean or smooth and needs to be sharpened again, starting from the 220 sandpaper. A clean cut on the newspaper means you followed the steps well.

Reassemble the hand plane by placing your blade in place and tightening the screw. Lastly, check the plane using it on a scrap rim material. If it produces a neat and thin shaving from that rim, that means you have fixed the screw well. If not, tighten or loosen the screw to cut deeper or to make it cut a thinner shaving respectively.

Method Two: The Honing Guide

People prefer sharpening their blade with their own hands. However, if you know how to use a honing guide, the task gets a lot easier. Less practice and expertise is needed for this method and it’s just the easier way for a non-professional.

Materials Required:

Steps

1.  Back

Firstly, you have to place the back of the blade on the sharpening material. Just like before, pull the back of the blade on the three different types of the sharpening material. Try to work on the first 1 inch that is adjoining the edge. Put enough pressure on the blade to keep it flat because you have to polish and flatten the whole back side.

The coarse step will take longer as compared to the other two sharpening materials. However, once you are able to see your face in that mirror-like shiny surface that means the blade is already sharp and polished.

2.  Bevel

It is hard to keep the tiny area of the bevel balanced on the sharpening material; hence the honing guide comes to use.

3.  Honing Guide

The main purpose of the honing guide is to provide that angle that is constantly needed to sharpen the bevel. The more firmly the blade is held, the easier it gets to sharpen. A smaller angle will provide less durability, therefore 300is taken to be the standard angle for better results.

For a 300, you will need to ensure that 38 mm of the blade is outside of the honing guide. Next, you have to set up a honing guide jig. For that use two pieces of wood and ensure that one has a square edge. Place the woods exactly 38mm apart and, screw and glue the pieces for firm positioning.

Remember to ensure that the blade is held tightly by the jig. Tighten with a screwdriver if needed.

Now, rub the bevel on the three different grits as you did with the back. Use a magnifying glass for precision. Lastly, test your blade on a newspaper and a rim material as explained in the first method. Repeat the whole procedure if the blade is not sharp.

Here is a video using a wood chisel but the process is the same!

Conclusion

There you go! Hopefully, now you know how to sharpen hand planer blades! It is important to keep your planer blades sharp and in good condition if you want to achieve your desired results at all times. Keep your woodwork going with the same old blade forever and ever.

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