Free-Hand Sharpening Follow-up

While free-hand sharpening the iron on my No. 5 1/2 jack plane, something occurred to me. The depth adjust on that particular plane has always been tight. No matter how well-oiled the screw or how deep or shallow the frog set, advancing the iron for a deep cut becomes finger-crushing work.

Then, when I was looking for a link to the ruler trick for my previous post, it dawned on me. The bevel on the iron was entirely hand sharpened to about 35 degrees. Meaning the heel of the bevel stuck out further than the factory grinding. Meaning it was butting up against the throat.

So I slapped the iron into a honing guide at 25° and ground the heel of the bevel back down. Now the plane advances smoothly and I didn’t even have to resharpen the edge, as it was well clear of the grinding.


Like so

So I guess now I have a hybrid approach for plane iron sharpening. First grind to 25° by guide, then free-hand hone the cutting edge at 35° or so (30° for bevel up tools).



  1. Yeah, your bevel DOES need to clear the mouth! Otherwise you’re working against the lever cap screw to adjust your depth as you rode the back of the opening! Good catch, though I would have thought that the frog would have been forward enough that the bevel never would have come in contact with the angled part at the sole of the plane.


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