Sharp Dressed Plane

Ever since I increased my plane ownership from one to three in January, I’ve been thinking off and on again about how to sharpen up the blades and have really useful tools. It wouldn’t hurt that I would also be sharpening up my slightly woeful set of HF chisels in the process. The arrival of my Groz #3 & #4 reminded me that I still hadn’t picked a method, much less deployed it.

Last week I set about to change that. Having done some research on techniques and relative prices, I got the idea to go with the Scary Sharp method. This uses glass or granite topped with sandpaper in various grit steps to get an edge super sharp – scary, indeed, as the name suggests.

I read online about someone using tile instead of glass or granite, and it spurred me to act on it that day. I attempted to get the sandpaper at a Napa, but wasn’t happy with the selection. Finding two black granite tiles for about $3 a piece at Home Depot, I decided to give Advance a shot. I picked up a four sheet (full) of various grit silicone carbide (wet or dry) paper – 220, 400, 800 and 1000. I also picked up a pack of 1/3 sheet 2000. Total cost was around $20 for everything. I did not include the cost of a blade/chisel guide, as I already had one.

Since I was wary of the adhesive sold at Advance, I started sharpening by holding the paper taut, and with no lubrication. I must say, even doing it this way gave really good results. I got two of the HF chisels done before I ended up purchasing the Narex set, and the Narex set completely done. Add in the blade for the block plane done and the sole started, and I’ve certainly got my money’s worth. The sole required dipping into my stock of 120 grit, and it’s still not close. Oh well.

We will have to see what the cost breakdown is as I have to replenish stock, but I still think its a very economical way to start out. When everything is dialed in, only maintenance will be have to performed unless an accident occurs. Bulk purchasing of the higher grit paper can be done relatively inexpensively. As long as I can come up with a safe place to store them, I won’t have to replace the tile either. They may not be perfect, absolutely flat, but I think they are certainly close enough for my needs. I’ve already sampled the pleasure of what a truly sharp chisel and plane blade can provide and I’m hooked.

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