Hand Tools

Bevel angle

Warren in Lancaster, PA
I did experiments with clearance angles in the 1970s. What I found was that at 12 degree clearance there were no problems and that at 8 degrees of clearance there were definite problems. The range between these values was hard to discern, and would have been slightly different for different qualities of timber. For a 30 degree bevel, that equates to a minimum cutting angle between 38 and 42. For a 35 degree bevel, it equates a minimum cutting angle between 43 and 47.

I have a beech Sandusky trying plane with a 44 degree bed. The taper on the iron makes for a .67 degree adjustment, so the cutting angle is about 43.3; the jack plane I made in 1978 also has a cutting angle around 43. And I have a smoothing plane altered to cut around 42 degrees. I would not want to go too much over 30 degree bevel angle for these workhorse planes.

Years ago Larry Williams claimed that bedding needed to be 50 or more to avoid clearance problems. I wondered about this for quite some time. When I saw him honing it all made sense. He hones at about 40 degrees.

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