Hand Tools

Re: Questions on sole flattening

Steve D, CT
I use PSA paper that for Porter Cable sanders, the white stearated paper. I started with 80 and went to 120 before deciding to postpone the rest of the process. I like to get the sole to flat before going finer than 80. I just grabbed what was handy. 3M sells rolls of the gold paper with PSA backing through LN and probably others. If Festool papers are available with PSA, they last a long time too.

I usually don't go any higher than 320 grit but the 120 is useable.

I also use sanding belts cut and adhered with spray adhesive for tougher jobs. These were #4s but a #7 would warrant the sanding belts. Spray adhesive can cause lumps unless you are really good with spraying but on the coarse belts the glue thickness isn't as critical as with the fine grits.

I don't trust paper to stay where it belongs from the surface tension of water. The paper can stretch in use and create a wave that sands around the edges more aggressively. That is already a concern when doing this by hand so that in effect doubles up on risk. Also, one of those planes was high around the mouth (opposite of a ski camber) so I was hanging the plane off the edge of the paper to spare the ends of the sole. My aim was to bring that in before working the whole sole.

I usually use a marble threshold for a sandpaper base but I had recommended Aluminum tooling plate the other day and I had a piece that I brought home from work that was a scrapped design. As it turns out the tooling plate is only guaranteed to .005, which is not as good as I expected.

I checked the plate with a straightedge and found one side of one face to be the best so I used that. Despite all the effort it's still not extremely flat but end to end maybe .003 overall. It could be better and I may put more work into ones that I keep. I have too many but that's a different story.

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