Tuning Up A Plane Hack

Wiley's Woodworks

Corporate Member
I had a reason to tune up 2 planes, and part of the project was leveling and polishing the soles. MAN, THAT IS WORK!! I spent hours on a small block plane just working the sole in the conventional way--progressive grits of sandpaper laid on a granite block. I literally worked until my hands cramped, and I had to stop for an hour each time before resuming. I worked from 320 grit to 400 to 600 grit, and must have gone through a dozen 1/4 sheets of sandpaper, and it wasn't cheap sandpaper. Finally got it 90% flat and mirror polished, and it does make a difference in sliding across the wood.

I was in no mood to take on a #4 plane with a sole that had even deeper machining marks than the block plane. So, here is what I came up with, and it made the job go a whole lot easier and quicker:
  1. Put a 300 grit diamond plate up against a bench hook and went to work until the entire sole was uniformly scratched. You have to do this 1st step until there are no low spots.
  2. Switched to 400 grit, progressed to same uniformly scratched sole.
  3. Clamped plane upside down in wood-jawed vice
  4. Put 400 grit sandpaper on 1/4 sheet electric pad sander and let it buzz until the sole was beginning to show a shiny polished surface.
  5. Switched to 600 grit and buzzed away until I had close to a mirror finish. That was enough; I'm not obsessive.
  6. Just for fun put a coat of table saw top conditioner on the sole and hand polished it.
The 2nd plane was done in 1/4th the time, and after sharpening both blades up to 3000 grit (I used to stop at 1800 grit), they work better than ever.

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