Kreg Owners' Community

Howdy All,

I just picked up my very first pair of planes, and I'm very excited about learning this part of the woodworking craft.

I picked up the Stanley 12-960 block plane:

And the Stanley 12-905 smoother plane:

After taking them out of their packaging I noticed that they felt really solid and comfortable, looked very professional, and seem as though they will last me a while.

After pretty much only ever using power tools to work with wood, I'm feeling really good about finally getting into (what I truly believe is) actually working with wood and understanding it better. So now I'm off to learn how to work with them properly, and I believe the first step is how to sharpen them.

I can't wait to start using them. Wish me luck my friends. :)

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I have never got sharpening figured out troy ,can sharpen but never get the result I would like even though I got a tormek wet stone .Good luck with the planes .

Hi Troy, I like your attitude about the use of hand tools.  Yesit is true, power tools can perform well and build a fine looking piece of woodwork but it is the hand tools that truly perform miracles.  I wish you will on your venture and these are very nice planes to learn with.  Best of luck to you.

Thanks Michael and Jay! I really appreciate the support. :)

I did some sharpening today on a 1/4" chisel and the block plane in the picture above. Using a honing guide, like the one Christopher Schwarz recommends, and some DMT bench stones I had two results.

The 1/4" chisel was practically new before I sharpened it, and I think I did a pretty good job with it. After I honed it, I did a test I saw on the Woodsmith Shop show that entails taking some wood off the end grain of a piece of softwood. According to them, if your chisel is sharpened correctly you should be able to remove pieces of wood without any tear out. So I gave it a shot and it cut beautifully.

I wish I could say the same for the block plane. But I'm still trying to flatten the back of it. Apparently I'm going to need to spend some quality time with this little bad boy. I've already spent about 1.5 hours flattening it's back and I've almost got the back of the edge looking real pretty. According to the reviews I've read about this plane, this flattening time is not uncommon. And to be honest, I think I'm really enjoying this whole experience. So I'm having fun anyway. But I'm really looking forward to getting this bad boy honed because it looks like this little plane is going to be something I use a lot in my woodworking.

And the honing guide I can't recommend enough for beginners.

You'll love them both.  I love Stanley hand planes even though there are much more expensive and popular options out there like the Wood River and Veritas planes.  I have a Wood River #4 and a Stanley #3.  Don't tell, but I reach for my #3 more often.  It all comes down to how sharp your blade is, how the tool is set up, and whether your technique is correct.  More and more I find then when I get stuck trying to figure out a way to solve a problem with a power tool, I could have fixed it already with the proper hand tool.  There isn't much that can't be addressed with the right plane. As far as technique and sharpening go, I can spend hours watching Rob Cosman.  If you haven't seen the shavings he takes, check this out on YouTube -- he's taking shavings so perfect and thin they are almost translucent.  Scott Phillips' jaw is almost touching the floor.  Pretty funny.  Enjoy!

Wow! Thanks Russ! I took a look at that Cosman fellow you mentioned, and my jaw 'was' on the floor. That was just amazing! I am now vowing to one day be able to sharpen that well.

As for the plane he was using, I have been looking for a jointer plane since I started thinkin' about gettin' into hand planing and I was mystified by that Wood River #7. I wanted a Lie-Nielsen ever since I first discovered the art, and that Wood River seemed just as nice (just not as expensive). So I just happen to live near a Woodcraft store and thought I take a closer look at this #7 bad boy. And all I can tell you after seeing it up close, and becoming very intimate with it, is that it now resides in my workshop. Thanks so much for pointing me to the video (and of course all your feedback), and allowing me to see this wonderful part of wood working. :)

Yeah Cosman is a badass. Keep an eye out at your Woodcraft store. Cosman was just at the one here a couple weeks ago and did clinics on back-to-back days. I couldn't go and was very bummed out. But he goes all over. He's a regular fixture at the WWIA conferences too.

I have a power jointer but I've always been fascinated by people who can get perfect edges with a jointing plane. From what I understand it's all about technique. I say get one and then you can teach us how to use one!

So I think I've got this sharpening thing figured out (at least I do using a honing guide.)

I took the blade from the Wood River jointer, ensured it's back was flat, and then honed it on some course, fine, and extra fine DMT stones. After accidentally stabbing my hand (cat scratch style) and not bleeding, I figured this sucker was ready to go. So I grabbed a piece of pine and piece of hard maple, and then got down to business. And folks let me tell you something, this plane cuts through wood like butter! I was able to cut off slices in both types of wood that were about .002 thick. Now being an amateur at this, I was blown away watching these strips come off so easily. So impressed was I, that my work area floor now looks someone threw a bunch of snow on it. lol

After I got done, I came up with a couple of questions I'm hoping you all can help me with:

1. When honing the blade, should I be concerned about the area I sharpening having a even look? What I mean by this is when I'm honing I'm trying to ensure that whatever markings get left behind from the stones, those same markings appear evenly on the entire portion I'm sharpening. I'm doing this will all three stones, and because of it I'm taking quite a while to complete the task. The area I'm sharpening is from the edge to about a quarter up the blade.

2. The chip breaker on the Wood River plane doesn't appear to have a square edge. So when I put it together with my blade and square up their sides, one side of the chip breaker's edge is higher than the other. Granted it's not that much higher, but it's enough to notice when I look at it. It doesn't seem to really be affecting it's cutting performance, but being so new at this something may be happening that I not noticing. Does anyone know what affect this might have?

Some of my plane irons were not flat when I got them.  Some of my planes were garage/estate sale finds and the planes were badly neglected and stored.  As long as the iron is flat, it doesn't matter where the material is coming off the iron.  If it's cupped with the outer edges low, you'll get more material removed on the sides and none in the center, the opposite if it's cupped upward toward the chipbreaker and cleat.  The other thing to keep in mind is if you see a pattern developing, e.g. the same areas are ground down on multiple plane irons, either all of your irons are coincidentally out of flat in the same direction (unlikely) or your stones aren't flat.  Make sure your DMT stones are flat first!

I don't try to make my chip breakers perfect.  I don't think their function is impeded all that much if the shavings get there at slightly different times.  As long as the chip breaker is still working and the plane is making quality cuts, I ignore it.  

And because I knew you would appreciate this, look what the UPS man brought me today.

I have a #12 that I use for just about everything, mostly breaking edges and cleaning up joints.  But it's not great on end grain.  So I've been eyeing up a low-angle block plane for a while.  When I saw a 60-1/2 SW on sale, I pounced.  It came pretty sharp already but I can't wait to get it home and stupid sharp.

Nice! That is one sweet piece Russ. Congrats! Might have to add that one to my Christmas list. Let me know how it performs for you.

Thanks for the info also. So you're basically saying that as long as the back of the iron is flat, a person doesn't really need to worry about having an even appearance on the cutting side when honing. Is that correct? From the techniques I've watched on how to sharpen, I would have to agree with you. And that may have just saved me a whole lot of time, and my fingers a whole lot of skin. ;)

As for the chip breaker, I'll just leave it be. From what you're saying it doesn't sound there may be anything wrong. And from what I've seen, and felt, I'd agree. Maybe after I've been working with it a little while longer I'll see something that modifying the chip breaker might improve.

And thanks for the tip on the stones. It didn't even occur to me that I should ensure those are straight also. I tell ya', they say a good way to prevent dementia and alzheimer's is too keep your brain in shape by remembering different types of numeric information on a daily basis. Well brother, ever since I started working with wood that's all I do. So my odds are lookin' pretty good. ;)

So now I pretty much have this sharpening thing figured out with, and without, the honing jig. And to be honest, sharpening without the jig wasn't by choice. The jig doesn't hold chisels very well (it's great with plane blades though), so I had to learn to sharpen my chisels with just my hands. Fortunately after using the jig for as long as I did I was able to learn how to sharpen properly, so just using my hands was not that hard. It just takes a little longer. From now on I'll be using both sharpening methods, and I highly recommend the honing device for newbies who are trying to learn to sharpen and don't have any human assistance.

I looked into the chip breaker issue a little further and discovered that the breaker on the Stanley smoother plane looks about the same. So I'm going with the idea that chip breakers are designed to not be square to their blades. Though I'm still not sure why this is.

Another thing about the chip breaker I noticed is that it tends to collect a lot of waste from the cut if you place it too close to the edge of the blade. I had my jointer plane's set about 1/32 from the edge of the blade and I wound up with a lot of waste getting stuck between the blade and breaker. Once I moved it down to about 1/16 the waste issue was no longer a problem.

Got some real good practice in today with all my planes. And after using the Stanley block plane, I can see what Russ was saying about his #12 and end grain. As I was not that impressed with the performance of mine on some pine end grain. Then again my problem may just be that I need more practice. And so, the journey continues...

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