They were heavily coated in “shipping goop” so a lot of WD-40 was dispensed! They cleaned up nicely, and some checking with machinists squares revealed that they have pretty darn flat soles. I was expecting to have to do some serious work to flatten the bottoms, but I was pleasantly surprised all around.
I’ve been using this sharpening method for my planes and chisels for years now and have always been rewarded with great results.
The first steps were to set up the various grits of sandpaper on my glass plates (I use 3M’s Supper 77 spray adhesive) and to break down the block plane. I use eight different grits, starting at 220 and ending at 2000. (220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000)
The goal is to work the back of the blade on the sandpaper until all the scratches in the surface are uniform. After working the blade through two pieces of the 220 grit paper, you can see that there was still a bit of work to do on this blade. That cloudy looking area still needs to be worked out.
Yet another sheet of 220 and another dose of elbow grease and we’re finally there!
Once this has been accomplished on the lowest, hardest working, grit, it’s a much easier task to work your way up through the next levels of sandpaper. They key is to make sure that you’ve removed the scratches from the previous grit and that the pattern gets finer and finer all the way up to your final grit.
After working all the way up to the 2000 grit paper I had a mirror smooth finish with no perceptible scratch pattern at all. Say cheese!
With the back flattened and polished to a mirror finish it was time to tackle the bevel. I set the blade up in my Veritas honing guide and locked it down at a 25 degree angle. Since this is the first sharpening on this blade, a fair bit of time was spent on the 220 grit paper.
The coffee mug test reveals that mirror smooth finish we’re shooting for.
The lighting makes it a little tough to see, but this honing guide incorporates a feature that allows you to change the sharpening angle by 1 or 2 degrees so that a micro-bevel can be applied to the edge. With the indicator at the top of the barrel, the guide sharpens at the set angle…in this case the 25 degrees I selected.
Rotating the barrel into the lower position changes the sharpening angle to 27 degrees. This allows for just the tip of the cutting edge to be honed to this increased pitch, making the edge stronger and less likely to chip or dent.
After some clean-up, I reassembled the block plane and took it for test drive on some scrap Poplar.