Wood Plane

Image to the right shows nomenclature used in this outline. It shows a bevel up blade, but the ideas are the same for a bevel down blade (only the blade is flipped over before inserting into the plane).

Notes are also available on a different web page for Micro / Secondary Bevels.

Plane angle nomenclature


Values shown in the table below are for the Cutting Angle and the Relief Angle. As the Bed Angle is based on the plane body you are using, these are not shown. Additionally, the Front Bevel and Back Bevel can be easily determined from the Cutting Angle and the Relief Angle. To calculate these angles, use the following formulas :

Front Bevel = Cutting Angle - Bed Angle

Back Bevel = Bed Angle - Relief Angle


General Guidelines
Type Cutting Angle Relief Angle Notes
Bench Planes
    - General Purpose
    - Soft Woods
    - Low Angle

32°
27°
32°

--
--
10°
Cutting ange could be as low as 30°.

When working wood wider than the blade, crown the cutting edge or round the corners (or both). Using a 10° relief angle is especially useful for Low Angle and Bevel Down planes.
Blind Nailer n/a
n/a
You will need to consult someone far more experienced than I. Leonard Lee's book is a good place to start.
Block Planes
    - Bevel Down
    - General Purpose
    - Soft Woods
    - End Grain

35°
32°
27°
45°

10°
--
--
--
FYI : often, no cap iron is needed. Name comes from dressing of butcher blocks. Using a 10° relief angle is especially useful for Low Angle and Bevel Down planes.
Bullnose Planes 35°
--
Sharpen square across the front.
Jack Planes 35°
--
Jack Planes generally have a greater amount of camber on the blade. TM 9-867 Maintenance and Care of Hand Tools recommends that the end of the blade project 1/16" beyond the edge corners.
Jointer / Trying Planes 35°
--
Moulding Planes n/a
n/a
Lap the face of the cutter.

For re-sharpening or re-profiling the edge, you will need to consult someone far smarter than I.
Rabbet Planes 35°
--
Sharpen square across the front.
Scrub Planes 35°
--
Highly curve the cutting edge. Radius it no more than 2x the width, though it could go as small as 1x.
Shoulder Planes 35°
--
Sharpen square across the front.
Smoothing Planes 35°
--
Crown the cutting edge 1/32" to 1/16".
Spoke Shaves n/a
n/a
You will need to consult someone wiser than I. (Leonard Lee's The Complete Guide to Sharpening is a good place to start.)


Notes & Comments
Information regarding Grindstones


Tormek Live Sharpening Class - Part 3 - Chisels, plane irons & Tormek grinding wheels

Sebastien and Wolfgang offer some great tips on the sharpening of chisels & plane irons using the various Tormek grinding wheels, including the use of the diamond wheels.

  • At 00:46, there is a great explanation of sharpening a tool with a radiused end using the SE-77 Square Edge Jig.

  • At 00:52, there is a great explanation of how to use the MB-100 Multi Base.
The biggest sharpening mistake woodworkers make (And why...)

... a video about flattening the back.

Chisel Sharpening. Vincent Chicone owns a cabinet making shop and uses an old Tormek 2000 to sharpen his tools. This video is really good at showing how he flattens the back on the side of the SG grindstone.
Fine Tune a Back Iron

from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo

Educational Video on “Influence of the Cap-iron on Hand Plane”

from giant Cypress on Vimeo

Plane Assembly and Setting

A method of plane setting after sharpening which ensures successful planing.

From David Charlesworth's DVD: Plane Sharpening. Filmed and produced in 2016 in the UK by Artisan Media. Published by Lie-Nielsen.

New radical camber grinding jig - from Tormek
Tormek SE-76 Square Edge Jig
Using the SE-77 Jig to Camber a Plane Blade on the Tormek Sharpener
Tormek SVH-60 Straight Edge Jig

This is unfortunately no longer sold. That is a shame as it is useful for sharpening certain tools, especially those with short shanks between the handle and the cutting edge. It is worth looking on the used market for one.

Tormek AngleMaster WM-200


Tormek is a copyrighted logo of Tormek AB. Its presentation on this site is used to help the user quickly understand when specific Tormek tools, jigs, or setting are being used. For specific information regarding Tormek AB, or its products, please refer to the www.Tormek.com.


About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at SharpeningHandbook@Gmail.com.