Reply To: What 2 hand planes to start with.

#778710
Fritz Walker
Participant

I also recently stopped using honing guides, and now sharpen plane blades and chisels free hand. Paul’s videos are great for learning how to do that as are Wood by Wright’s. The principal advantage is that you can be done sharpening a tool in less time than it took me to set up the tool in the honing guide. Also, diamond stones followed by stropping on leather with buffing compound is a lot faster than going through a series of water stones. I found the key to adjusting to free hand is to make sure you look at the scratch pattern you’re forming after just a few strokes to see if you have the right angle, and adjust as necessary. I always try to start out a little to flat and increase the angle as dictated by what I see. By looking at the scratch pattern you can also see if your rubbing in a manner that is not parallel to the edge and avoid skewing the blade. Then you just go long enough to raise a burr, then onto the next fine diamond stone. I also remove the burr before going to the next finer stone so I can tell if I’m creating a new butt. I also use buffing compound applied to a flat piece of maple for polishing the back of the blade, switching back and forth a couple times between the wooden and leather strops. This assumes you’ve taken the time to carefully flatten the back of the blade, after which you don’t want to work it on the stones except for a light swipe on a fine stone to remove the burr. I think it now takes me well under five minutes to sharpen a chisel or plane blade. FWIW, I still prefer water stones for sharpening knives however.

Fritz Walker