There is a lot of minutia, tricks, hints, etc. that I left out to prevent this post from going on forever. I’ll just list a few points previously skipped over too quickly, or need further mention.

1. Norton and 3M make a new advanced paper (Norton calls it “3X”), available in up to 400 grit that I really like because it holds up much longer than other sandpapers (avail. at the low place or the depot).

2. Place a piece of printer or regular notebook paper (any paper) or thin masking tape along the front edge of the glass (over the papers) on which to slide the honing jig side to side to avoid abrading the wheel of the jig. Don’t try moving the jig on the glass while the blade sits on the paper because sandpapers vary in thickness which will throw your bezel off as you move from one grit to the other. Avoid wax paper because it masts over the finer grits.

3. Brush or shop-vac the paper after each grit to avoid getting tiny debris in the next finer grit.

4. Get the glass really clean before you apply the papers. ¼” glass can be used, but there’s extra risk of breaking and the heft of thicker glass is much better.

5. You can temporarily place individual sandpaper pieces over the top of those already mounted on the glass. The grit of the coarser paper on the glass will hold the temporary paper in place. This is useful, for example, when you realize one or more of the grits is glazed over, dull, or you need a grit not mounted. Instead of stopping to peel off the old and glue on new, just set a new piece over the old and continue.

6. If you have a 4” wide glass you can work your iron from both sides of the paper which will make it last longer OR if you have a 6” or 8” wide glass you can line papers down both front and back length of the glass.

7. Some use granite blocks instead of glass which is fine, but most commercial granite has been polished with grinders and buffers that do not leave them perfectly flat. Get granite made specifically for the tooling trade. Woodcraft Company sells a granite surface plate specifically for sandpaper sharpening (

8. You can purchase rolls of sandpaper in various grits, widths, and in lengths as long as your shop. There is also adhesive backed sandpaper rolls available that allow you to cut to size and simply stick them on and pull them off the glass when ready.

9. The fundamentals are fairly set in stone for this sharpening method, but you’ll come up with your own style, techniques, and ideas to fit how you want to go about this.

10. I didn’t address lapping the sole of the plane here because I feel it is not nearly so critical with small planes like the block plane used primarily for stringer work.

11. If you have an old iron that is badly rusted and pitted you may be unable to sand it all out. If your time is worth anything I’d suggest a new replacement blade for about $12.

12. Keep irons dry and coated after use to avoid rusting. There’s a lot of salt and moisture in your hands.

13. I realize Swaylocks is not a place to write a novel, so since this is already borderline in that regard, I didn’t address rounding off the corners of your plane blade. For those planes I dedicate to edge work, I’m careful never to round off the corners of the blade. However, planes used for surface work need to have the outside edges ever so slightly tapered off to prevent the corners from digging in to the work which leaves ridge lines. I recommend a block plane used for planning stringers to have the edge rounded off. We’re only talking about a very slight round off where 90% of the edge width is still slicing wood during the cut. Without getting into it, the method for this is to proceed through all the steps above until time to do the secondary bezel. With a little “touch” and “feel” you’ll get the hang of how to slightly favor first the left side on a few of the side to side strokes on the paper, then favor the right side for a few side to side strokes. It’s not a matter of rolling the jig, but just favoring one side then the other. Work through all the papers this way while watching the bezel to see your progress. It’s actually fairly simple, but takes a bit of practice and personal style.

Richard McCormick

[img_assist|nid=1050054|title=Blade sharpening: Time for surgery|desc=|link=none|align=none|width=442|height=330]

[img_assist|nid=1050055|title=Blade sharpeing: Rounded off edge.|desc=|link=none|align=none|width=504|height=280]


Awesome stuff. Thanks mate, I’m off to do a little sharpening!


I hope this helps with your plane blade sharpening. You may have noticed, and for the sake of anyone else who may read this thread, this particular post is actually the fifth and final post in a five part series on sharpening that was posted today. They were each numbered, but number five was posted first and number one was posted last.

Sorry for the problem, but if you scroll down to #1 of 5 first, you can read the entire series in order. I received a message that Swaylocks is going to put this in the “Articles” section under the category of “Resources” which will make it easier to read.


Richard McCormick

Excellent, excellent. Thank you SO much for going to all that effort (all 5 posts together!). This is going to help a lot!

I’ve got to get back to basting, but came on to say thanks for the generous information.

I learned a lot today.

Epac, Wish I could taste a bit of that basted turkey. I’ll bet you apply your brand of craftsmanship to that endeavor. Where did you get that attachement for the fin in your post?

Though you’ve probably got sharpening down, I hope the novel on perfect edges helps. Have a blessed Thanksgiving to all!

Richard McCormick

you’ve shared them before. i’m an image freak


Will using this method work for sharpening Skil 100 blades ??



I can tell ya that this method does work on Skill 100 blades. If you have nicks in the blade it’s best to grind them out in standard fashion on a 6" or 8" slow speed grinder followed by the same method I described in the posts. Because the blades are small, however, you can’t use the same jigs I described to hold them so you’ll have to fashion one. I have used a piece of hardwood beveled at the correct 45 degree angle to which I hold the blade’s face against in order to hone the bezel edge.

Having said that, even though I sharpen all my own hand plane blades and chisels, I usually take my planer blades, jointer knives, and saw blades to a professional sharpening service because they are done by machine, cheaply, uniformly, and those items don’t really demand as finely honed edge as hand tools. A fine razor edge won’t last long on the high rpm wheel of a machine. Hope that helps you.

Richard McCormick

This is a timeless keepsake for all disciplined hand shapers.