Hand Tools Archive

Bevel-up plane with a buffed blade *PIC*

I used my Veritas low-angle jack with an A2 blade to plane some western red cedar for an outdoor project. The lumber was originally from some rough-sawn cedar 2x4's. Using a table saw, I broke the 2x4's into pieces that were 2 feet long by 1 inch by 1 3/4 inches. There are 15 of these pieces, with surfaces from the original rough milling and from my table saw. This stuff was straight-grained and generally well-behaved.

My goal was to clean up all the milling marks, and I used two planes to do it: a #5 with a heavily cambered blade (bevel-down), and the Veritas low-angle jack with a barely-cambered blade (bevel-up). I filled a paper grocery bag about 2/3 of the way up with shavings from from the Veritas, so it was a decent distance traveled by that plane.

The blade in the Veritas was sharpened to 25 degrees on a Sigma 6000, then I worked the back to remove the burr, and then it was buffed.

The interesting thing to me is that at the end, there were no edge defects and it leaves no tracks at all in the wood. Usually by this point I'd feel some tracks, even if the wood is easy like this cedar. The surface it left behind at the end wasn't glassy smooth like when it was freshly-sharpened, but it was still good.

Normally after planing this much, I would be able to see some imperfections in the blade with the naked eye, but this time, the blade still looks undamaged.

Some interesting stuff about the blade's sharpness: it still feels sharp. Not quite as sharp as it was to begin with, but it still feels somewhat "prickly sharp" (to use a term Bill coined earlier). It can still take a reasonably fine shaving, and I don't have to push down at all to do it. It made the shaving here after doing all that planing.

Despite this remaining sharpness, it will not shave hair now, at all. Even if there's enough pressure that it's scraping against skin.


Here microscope pics of the bevel. This is what it looked like before being used:

After being used, instead of being perfectly smooth near the edge, it has a rough texture.

Here's the bevel again, but at a higher magnification. Also, I moved the light so that you can see the very edge better.

And here's the back before:

And after:

I wish I could see what the edge looked like even more closely, with an electron microscope, so I could see what the texture and profile look like. The behavior of the blade at this point is strange to me -- in many ways it seems sharp but in other ways it doesn't. I am pleased that I con continue to use it to get a decently smooth surface without tracks.

One other thing I should mention: I did get occasional tearout in places where the grain reversed. At some point in the future I may experiment with higher angles (plus buffing) to see how much of a difference that makes.

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