May 5, 2022

How to sharpen hand planer blades

Can you sharpen planer blades? Yes! Hand planer blades can be difficult to sharpen. Your planer’s blades have a different shape from standard utility knives. So, they need a different sharpening process. Hand planer blades are flat on one side and have a convex curve on the other side. You’ll need special sharpening equipment designed for planer blades. Let’s look at some ways to do it.

Can you sharpen planer blades?

Yes, you can! Planer blades have a different shape and sharpening process than other types of blades, but you can sharpen them at home. You will not need special equipment designed specifically for planer blades. There are several different techniques and tools you can use. We will cover them in this article.

Hand planer blade sharpening jig

It is from a glued-up woodblock cut at an angle to match the level of the plane blade. It works with a guide sitting on a flat surface as you place the plane blade on top, bevel side down, and tighten the threaded knob. Roll the planer guide back and forth on the abrasive surface to sharpen. 

Loosen the knob and adjust the blade to maintain contact with the surface when making the jig, notch two inner pieces to house nylon wheels, while a knob and washers on top hold the plane blade in place.

Sharpening plane blades with Waterstones

  1. Use 1000 and 6000 grit Waterstones to sharpen a plane blade. A proper jig is for polishing the edge of the back of the blade.
  2. Before sharpening, soak the stone for 10 to 15 minutes in clean water.  
  3. While sharpening, keep the stone’s surface wet. The water with the slurry of abrasive and steel particles forming on the stone’s wet surface makes sharpening messy. 
  4. To contain the mess and protect your benchtop, place the stone on a cookie pan.
  5. Hold the stone in the center using spacer blocks.
  6.  Protect the stone from accidental gouging. Always hold the tool in the sharpening or honing guide.

Sharpening hand plane blades with sandpaper

Remove the blade from the planer.  Clean the planer blade and remove any paper shim on it. The paper shims a buffer for the planer blade within the housing of the planer. It closes any gap between the planer blade and the planer frame.

Cut the sandpaper into strips, making them wider than the blade. Lay the sandpaper on a flat surface, holding and pressing the bevel side of the planer blade onto the sandpaper. Draw it back toward you several times, starting with the 220 grit paper and moving on to a 320 grit, then a 400 grit, and finally with the 600 grit paper. Remove grit on the blade as you move from one grit to the next.

Add a thin layer of rubbing compound to the leather strip and draw the blade toward you along the leather several times.  Wipe the blade off, and feel carefully along the edge, ensuring you didn’t miss either grit or rubbing compound.

The 200-400 grit sandpaper is for sharpening a dull knife and dinging it up (homesteads grit.com). The blade should be very sharp, so be careful.  Check it by testing the edge on a piece of newspaper.  If the cut is clean, the blade is ready to be put back into the planer; if the cut is ragged, repeat the process for the sharpness you need.

Hand plane sharpening stones

There are many types of stones for sharpening, making it difficult to determine the best stone for your woodworking needs. The variety of stone materials will allow you to select a material that will meet your needs and stay within your budget.

Woodworkers’ needs and preferences are different. The three types of bench stones are water, diamond, and oil stones. Take time to understand the advantages of each stone. That way, you become a more informed purchaser of sharpening stones.

How to sharpen a plane blade

  1. First, clean your grinding wheel with a diamond dresser. That helps prevent burning your blade. Clean your grinding wheel after every blade you grind.
  2. Set your tool rest up so the blade bevel is at about 30°.  When grinding your blade, use light pressure against the wheel and keep your planer blade moving back and forth across the wheel. That minimizes the chance of burning the blade. Dip the planer blade in water when hot. Grind about 0.5mm from the edge, except for the chip in the edge. A hollow ground blade takes less time to sharpen.
  3. Check that your stones are flat by rubbing them on a flat surface, such as 10mm plate glass with some 180 grit sandpaper glued. You cannot sharpen your blade if the stones are not flat. Sharpen about ten blades before the stone need re-flattening.
  4. Secure your 1000 grit and 6000 grit stones on a board clamped onto your bench. Do not allow your stones to move for better results. Failure to do so will damage the stone. Keep your 1000 grit stone in a water bath while using it, as it will soak in a lot of water. When not in use, do not keep it in the water bath.  Please do not soak the 6000 grit water stone as it can soften in.
  5. When using a new blade, hone the back of the blade until flat at the edge. Start by honing the 30° bevel on the 1000 gritstone—straight back and forth action using the stone’s length. Hold the blade skewed on the sanding stone and put more pressure on the front of the bevel to hold the bevel flat on the stone. If it is a thin blade, use a honing guide.
  6. Put plenty of water on the stone to clean the pores. Keep honing until you feel a wire edge appear on the back of the blade. If the back of your blade is already flat and polished, go straight to the 6000 gritstone to take the wire edge off. The process takes less than 1 minute. If it takes longer, re-hollow grind the bevel.
  7. Hone a micro bevel at this stage by placing the bevel flat on the stone. Move it back and forth, then raise the bevel about 1° until you hear a slight scraping sound. That is an indication of honing the micro-bevel. Give the blade a final hone to refine the edge to a clean, straight facet, which will stay sharp for a long time of planning.
  8. Hone the edge until you feel a wire edge on the back of the blade, then polish the back of the blade. Let the grey slurry build up and dry out. Do the final honing strokes on the bevel and back of the blade. The slurry clogs the stone, making it cut finer, improving the blade edge.

What grit to sharpen hand plane

Use wet/dry sandpaper between 100 – 220 grit to sharpen a hand planer.

Sharpening plane blades with diamond stones

Diamond stones do not need flattening. They use a diamond on a metal backing. The backing is produced flat and stays flat for the lifetime of the stone. The diamond stone sharpens any woodworking tool. It can even sharpen carbide-tipped router bits. Splash water on them to use and dry them off when you finish sharpening. The stone is a metal layer enhanced with diamond particles.

How to sharpen planer blades by hand

  1. Remove the blade from the planer Clean the planer blade and remove any paper shim on it.
  2. Cut sandpaper into strips wider than the blade and lay the sandpaper on a flat surface.  
  3. Hold and press the bevel side of the blade onto the sandpaper and draw it back toward you, beginning with the 220 grit paper and moving on to a 320 grit, then a 400 grit, and ending with the 600 grit paper.  Remove grit on the blade as you move from one grit to the next.
  4. Add a thin layer of rubbing compound to the leather strip and draw the blade toward you along the leather.  
  5. Wipe the blade off, and feel along the edge not to miss either grit or rubbing compound.
David D. Hughes
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