Flat sole smoothing plane

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    Joris Kempen

    Just setting up my stanley #4 which i bought in store.

    Try to flat the sole and reading tutorial in Paul’s latest book. Am i correct I need to take out all those vertical lines?

    Doing it with grid 100 abrasive paper but takes very long. Not sure how much pressure I can use (Paul advices gently) and how long it generally takes? maybe i’m just impatient ๐Ÿ™‚

    Should have paid more attention to it and made pictures of it at Paul’s course week ago ๐Ÿ™‚ But i really really enjoined that and made me realise to work more and watch less of Paul’s videos!

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Joris Kempen.
    • This topic was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Joris Kempen.
    • This topic was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Joris Kempen.

    Your picture looks like you have a hollow at the mouth. And a rather large one.

    Joris Kempen

    am i correct i need to take out all the yellow and get it to the level of the blue?

    seems more work as i expected ๐Ÿ™‚


    Yes you need to get the yellow part down around the mouth. The little bit at the toe is not a problem although you’ll probably hit that too by the time you’ve got the rest.

    I would recommend that you switch to a courser grit paper initially, I use 60 if there’s a lot to remove (change to a fresh bit as soon as you feel it’s not cutting as quickly) and then go to 120. You can obviously carry on to finer grits after if you wish. You need to use firm pressure but not so much as to flex the sole-that’s hard to explain with just text!

    One last thing is to make sure the plane is tensioned correctly via the lever cap before you start working on it because this can affect the flatness of the sole.

    Hope that helps a bit, the hard work will be worth it in the end!

    Best regards


    Hugo Notti

    Flattening the sole of a new plane takes quite a while. I used 60 grit dry sandpaper and it took me aobut two hours. There wasn’t much heat generated in the process, the sole only got quite warm but never hot, and the sandpaper didn’t tear at all (unlike during my tries with wet sandpaper). I tapped the sandpaper and also used a wire brush to clean often. I didn’t clean under the sandpaper though, and this was quite visible, on a hardened steel surface (thanks to the good equipment in the workshop of the company I work for) – nor recommended. I also cleaned the sole often, because I think, dust could accumulate in low spots and lower them even further. The process took about two meters of a roll, similar to the rolls that Paul Sellers is using.

    Of course, 60 grit is not enough for a nice finish, but it is a fast way to flatten the surface. You can even re-use the worn sandpaper for some refining. A mirror surface isn’t needed, because wood is quite abrasive. However, you need to get rid of the obvious lines, because thin shavings will really stick to them otherwise.


    Joris Kempen

    Thanks for the comprehensive info made me realize it’s just hard work and I was on the right track.

    Too bad I only had some 80 grit and rest only 100.

    This is how far I got. Kinda worried on the stripes right close to the mouth. Seem really deep.

    Did it both wet with window cleaner and dry, don’t notice any difference.

    Was heavy 1,5 hour workout and will continue tomorrow.
    Thanks again for this great forum !

    David B

    Looks much better. Did you sharpie it up again to retest the flatness? Should’ve worn some latex gloves! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joris Kempen

    thanks; did first want to get the machine marks out and try for flatness.

    Latex gloves would have been good idea, now my hands feel like abbrasive paper ๐Ÿ™‚

    Don’t have a granite or piece of glass. Have a solid piece of plywood 20 mm thick. Would it be a problem?


    Shopsmith makes 60 grit ceramic belts for their belt sander. They are available here at Lowes. Use it dry. This stuff really cuts quickly. I have a piece of tempered glass about 4″ wide and 3 feet long from an old shelf. It is flat. I lay the belt on it and clamp the two to the workbench using the apron. Use it dry and use a file brush to remove the cuttings periodically.

    Joris Kempen

    when doing it dry and not use window cleaner, best would be to wear a dust mask i assume?

    today i will get 15 meter of 60 grit, so would be enough for the upcoming year(s) ๐Ÿ™‚


    If there’s a home center near you, you can pick up a piece of melamine or a granite floor tile for very little money, and you’ll get a reasonably flat surface. At my local home center, a single piece of granite floor tile 12 inches square is between 2 and 8 dollars, and a piece 18 inches x 31 inches is less than 10 dollars. A larger piece is nice because you can move the plane around more, making the job progress more quickly, and if you someday buy a larger plane, like a #7 jointer plane, the piece is large enough to flatten that sole as well. Go to the tool section, borrow their best straight edge, and sort through the tiles using the straight edge to pick the best one.

    I would definitely recommend to wet sand (use 3-in-1 oil, WD-40, window cleaner, etc) and change the paper often. You don’t really have to worry about breathing any metal dust, but by wet sanding the swarf will be carried away, and you’ll get a better result in less time.

    If you do a very thorough job of flattening the sole, one thing to be aware of is that you might be creating a very sharp edge around the sole your plane, so when you’re done, you might want to give a bit of attention to those sharp edges. If you’re just doing a rough flattening, it’s probably not a concern.

    Also, if you’ll be using this plane for shooting, you might consider ensuring the side of the plane that lays down when you’re shooting is square to the newly-flattened sole and is also nice and flat. Since you’ve got the plane-flattening station all set up, it’s a good time to get this step done.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Edmund.
    Larry Geib

    It looks like you are progressing nicely. I echo the call for you to procure a flatter surface than your piece of ply. It will get you better results. I went to a glass shop years ago and asked for a scrap piece of float glass. Those folks throw lots of glass in the scrap skip. I got a 1’x2’x1/2″ piece for nothing, and the guy even eased the sharp edges for me.

    Should have paid more attention to it and made pictures of it at Paulโ€™s course week ago ? But i really really enjoined that and made me realise to work more and watch less of Paulโ€™s videos!

    In this case it might be worth your while to watch one more video, where Paul discusses the fine points of sole flattening.

    Plane Soles Should be Mostly Flat.

    Joris Kempen

    Seems opinions differ on wet vs dry ๐Ÿ™‚
    Took another hour on grit 60 on glass plate and latex gloves ?

    Should I continue till I get that bad part out around the mouth?
    Probably would take another hour as it’s quit deep.

    For now I continue finishing the plane and get to retrofitting clamps!


    If you are using the paper dry, use a stiff brush, like on a file card to keep the paper clean and cutting. You’ll be surprised at the amount of shavings. I sweep mine directly into a waste can.

    Joris Kempen

    Indeed makes difference.
    Only doing it dry now. First I cleaned up the paper after about 50 back fore strokes.
    But noticed if I did it after about 15-20 the paper works better.

    Also removed the machine marks from the side just to make it more pretty and flat. And the edges indeed get sharp. Do I need a special file for iron to do this? Don’t read in Paul’s book what kind of files to buy.

    Glad it is a one time job but also gives you a good feeling about the plane!!

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