The plane I use for jointing my edges is a corrugated bottom, #7 Stanley that dates back to the mid 1920’s or so. It has the original sweetheart blade that is laminated plus it has the low profile knob which is another indication of it’s age. In any case, this tool was a trade for some work done for a client in the 1980’s and I love it! Since work has started on the Armoire there are a lot of panels to glue up and 8/4 legs that need to be squared and trued. The jointer plane with it’s 2 3/8″ wide blade is the perfect choice for that, however; some of this genuine Mahogany for the project was giving me problems. When I planed the same edge with a Lie-Nielsen jack plane it planed much better. Since that blade is a much thicker iron I figured it was time to update and improve my old #7.
A number of years ago the jointer planes performance was improved with the addition of Ron Hocks chip breaker. It’s much heavier than the original and improved the cutting action considerably. Rather than putting a Lie-Nielsen #7 Jointer on my Christmas list and really not expecting to get it I decided it would be more in keeping with my Dutch nature to invest in a better blade. Besides, I love this plane! One of the best sources for plane blades is Hock Tools, I’ve dealt with them before. What I really like about Ron Hock is that he takes the time to not only answer any questions or concerns via email, the same is true for phone communications. To my way of thinking, in this age of recorded messages and the endless phone options we’re faced with when trying to find information that’s gold!! I asked him a question via email and then (since I pre-worry) called him too and he answered promptly. I placed the order and had the replacement blade in 2 days. Next up was to prepare it for use.
I use water stones and a Veritas MKII jig for sharpening. I don’t use a bench grinder but on occasion will use a modified 1″ belt sander to rough shape a blade. The quality of Ron Hock’s blades is fine but I wanted that polished edge that only stones can give. The initial work on the 4K stone showed me that it would take far too long to achieve the edge I was after so went to a 1K stone to work the entire surface. You can see in the slide show that there was one corner that gave me problems, just couldn’t seem to raise that burr on the back of the blade that tells you the entire edge has been ground. Checking it with a square showed that it was positioned correctly in the jig but you can see the sharpie mark in the right hand corner indicating the stone hadn’t touched that corner yet. It took about 20+ minutes to hit the entire front edge and raise a burr on the back. Here’s the slide show of the process:
After the 1K stone the followup work on the 4K and 8K went relatively quickly as you can see. For the micro bevel I only take about 5 strokes working the blade backwards only. That’s followed with a slight back bevel using David Charlesworth’s ruler trick and as you can see, it was well worth the time. Sharpening is like sanding in a way. My students used to complain about sanding and ask how long they needed to do it — of course the obvious answer was “until it’s smooth”. In sharpening, just like in sanding; it pays to spend the majority of the time with the rougher grit (100 sandpaper or 1,000 stone) before going on to the finer ones. It’s always tempting to me to tell myself it’s time to move to the finer stones even when I don’t have a burr all the way across the back of the iron. Can’t figure out why that was happening but glad I persevered with the 1K stone to achieve the edge and cut I did.