sharp/dull blade drawing Links small map
Finest abrasives.
Microbevels front and back.
Use a jig.
Copyright (c) 2002-15, Brent Beach

Sharpening Books

Leonard Lee wrote the book on sharpening in general, with excellent material on plane blade sharpening as well. Written many years ago it is still the best book on sharpening I have read. The Popular Woodworking book has some very good sharpening chapters by a variety of authors. There are lots of ways to sharpen and one of the approaches in that book might work better for you than my approach. The Mike Darlow book, primarily for wood turners, includes some very good material on sharpening. Mike wrote this book in 1997. I wish I had read it then rather than in 2008.

Leonard Lee The Complete Guide to Sharpening
Popular Woodworking Hand Tool Essentials
Mike Darlow Fundamentals of Woodturning


There is a branch of science that concerns itself with preparing samples of metals for analysis. Since abrasion changes the nature of the surface of a sample, they have spent a lot of time discovering how to identify the changes made to a metal during abrasion and how to remove those effects. This is a long but clear book that has a lot of useful information for people sharpening hand tools. I am preparing a summary of the book and the lessons I have learned from it. It is hard to summarize several hundred pages of research on a single web page, but I am going to try.

Leonard Samuels Metallographic Polishing By Mechanical Methods, Fourth Edition, 2003.
Struers - in the metallography supply business A slightly more recent take on Grinding and Polishing.


John D. Verhoeven wrote a paper that is widely available on the net in PDF form. In this article he uses various means to sharpen knives and looks at the edges using a Scanning Electron Microscope. He never tests the knives, so we have no idea if the angles he uses are any good. As well, most of the sharpening techniques he uses involve very poor abrasives. Lots of SEM images and some interesting thoughts though.

John D. Verhoeven Experiments on Knife Sharpening

Web Sites

The are two other people who have web pages which report their thoughts and experiments on sharpening plane irons.

Steve Elliott Steve has a QX3 and has done some excellent testing using a variety of different blades, some of which he made himself. He also has a group of pages on tuning planes, most notable on setting the cap iron!
Peter Michaux Peter has done some innovative thinking about plane operation. He has also outlined the mother of all plane operation testing experiments.

Links to people who have taken the time to put their thoughts on sharpening onto a web page. If you have a sharpening page and would like to be linked from here, drop me a line.

Derek Cohen An item originally on Woodnet in which he shows a very low price version of my honing setup that he calls the The 10 Cent Sharpening System. This down market version is enough to give a woodworker a sense of the look and feel of shop-made-jig-based sharpening.

I think the added expense of glass plates, PSA backed abrasive sheets, and a more carefully sized jig would repay the additional cost. Expect to spend about $25 (plus shipping for materials you cannot source locally) by the time you are done. That includes enough abrasive to sharpen/hone 500 plane irons - or 1 plane iron 500 times.

Ken Vaughn A couple of pages on Sharpening using belt sanders, grinders, and sheet abrasives on glass.


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Questions? Comments?

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