Flattening the Sole of a Hand Plane

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rick7938

New User
Rick
As you can see, I am new to WW and the NCWW net.

My wife gave me a new Stanley #4 plane for my birthday recently. I have read that the sole of a new plane should be flattened and smoothed to make it work more smoothly. I have flattened the sole of a couple of old Stanley block planes by double-sticking progressively finer grades of sandpaper to a piece of plate glass and polishing out the vast majority of grind marks. Some were too deep to make it worthwhile continuing.

My question on the Stanley #4: Is there a better way to smooth the sole of this larger plane? My piece of glass isn't large enough to accomodate this larger plane. The rest of the plane looks pretty good.

Any advice will be appreciated.
 

Phillip

New User
Phillip Fuentes
rick, i've used belt sandpaper on a jointer bed to good effect. just use the finest paper you can get away with so you don't create scratches too deep to remove. good luck.

phillip
 

sapwood

Roger
Corporate Member
Rick, I echo Phillip's suggestion and add that you can also use top of cast iron TS if available. Just make sure to clean up water/mess on the CI tops afterwards :-D I recently broke down and paid about $25 for a 3 inch granite slab. It's great and you don't have to worry about rust. Like you, I've found some of the scratches aren't worth the extra labor and time sanding. Also be sure to have frog, blade, cap, etc., installed when flattening sole.

Sapwood
 

mshel

New User
Michael Shelley
sapwood said:
Also be sure to have frog, blade, cap, etc., installed when flattening sole.

Sapwood
Roger,

Why is this necessary? I just flattened three planes, none of which I had the innards mounted while doing this. Please enlighten me. Should I go back and redo what I have already done?

MIke
 

Phillip

New User
Phillip Fuentes
mshel, when you have the plane assembled as you would if you were using it (with the blade backed up a bit) and under tension, it changes the shape of the sole slightly. you want to try to flatten the plane when its in its operating condition. reassemble one of your flattened planes and see if you can detect a difference in the sole, its really apparent on my wooden planes.

phillip
 

mshel

New User
Michael Shelley
Phillip said:
mshel, when you have the plane assembled as you would if you were using it (with the blade backed up a bit) and under tension, it changes the shape of the sole slightly. you want to try to flatten the plane when its in its operating condition. reassemble one of your flattened planes and see if you can detect a difference in the sole, its really apparent on my wooden planes.

phillip
Phillip,

Didn't know that. Monday I will put some marks across one of the soles and use some 320 wed & dry to see if they come off uniformly. Hopefully they aren't out too much, my arms are still tired from all the sanding just to get them to this point. LOL

MIke
 

sapwood

Roger
Corporate Member
D L,

Yeah, what Phillip said :-D
I made the same mistake and am slowly getting around to flattening them again. Ditto about those tired arms. :-? I've finally acquired the essentials to sharpen plane blades and chisels, but the workouts are killing me :oops:

Sapwood
 

D L Ames

New User
D L Ames
sapwood said:
D L,

Yeah, what Phillip said :-D
I made the same mistake and am slowly getting around to flattening them again. Ditto about those tired arms. :-? I've finally acquired the essentials to sharpen plane blades and chisels, but the workouts are killing me :oops:

Sapwood
You need to eat more Wheaties Roger.:lol:

D L
 

Monty

Monty
Corporate Member
One other thing to mention, I use a spray adhesive rather than double-stick tape. The tape will probably make the sandpaper surface just a little uneven, and the whole point is to use a perfectly flat surface. Elmer's has a spray tack that creates a temporary, repositionable (is that a word?) adhesive film. You'll find it in the craft store where the scrapbooking supplies are, IIRC...
 

sapwood

Roger
Corporate Member
Insom, I prefer to use wet/dry sandpaper and water. In addition to the problem with uneveness, it's a PITA to remove adhesive and replace paper. The water will hold the paper in place on glass and stone. The only downside I note is that occasionally the paper moves slightly creating a "wave" action. You can reduce the impact of this effect by reducing pressure on the "push" stroke and applying pressure on "pull" stroke. Regularly spraying water helps hold the paper in place and also washes away the buildup of detritus.

Of course, in my dreams all this is negated by having a wide diamond stone :eusa_shhh

Sapwood
 

Splinter

New User
Dolan Brown
Roger how much water are you using to hold the paper and how are you applying it, ie. spray bottle of what?
 

gator

George
Corporate Member
Kinda late jumping in but, I use pieces of scrap 3/4" melamine for a flattening surface. I use this for plane blades, chisels, and plane soles (the couple I have tried). I do lay this on the tablesaw table when I use it so that it has a flat stable backup. With the melamine I use the spray adhesive as it cleans up really well off the melamine with mineral spirits.

George
 

Travis Porter

Travis
Corporate Member
Ahh the mineral spirits, that's what you use. I have had the same issue as Roger with the spray adhesive building up and I couldn't figure how to get it off and have jsut been using water.
 

Mtnman

New User
Talley Pollard
Other than the fact it will probably make you sleep better, what big difference does a perfectly flat sole on a block plane make?
I have never flattened any of mine, and they seem to work fine. Then too, I don't use them very often, and when I do it is just to straighten an edge, or shave the edge of a door to make it fit better. Mostly I use it on things that wont go easily on my jointer.
Is it really worth the trouble, Does it make a marked difference in the operation of the plane? Or is it mostly the pride of knowing it is really FLAT.
 

sapwood

Roger
Corporate Member
Me too, George :-D
Tried melamine on TS prior to getting a stone. The stone holds the sandpaper much better than melamine and is easier to clean.

Dolan, I use a spray bottle. Apply water to stone and front & back of paper. I can pretty much heat the shop with calories expended lapping a sole :lol:

Sapwood
 

Phillip

New User
Phillip Fuentes
mtnman, a flat sole really makes a difference on longer planes. if the sole has an arch along its length, making it slightly hollow, you have to advance the blade too far out to take an easy cut. you end up with chatter marks, or tear out, or even big chunks from some woods. if the arch causes a convex bend in the length its hard to get the iron to take an even shaving because of the rocking motion of the plane as you push (or pull) it. on easy woods, domestic hardwoods, and some exotics, i leave my finished surface directly from the plane. a properly tuned plane (sole flat, iron sharp, throat small) will take shavings measured in thousandths of an inch. the thickness of the shaving is not the measure of the finished product, but with the capability to take these small shavings i can plane with, across, and sometimes against the grain, even across knots. also, the polished bottom of the plane helps to prevent marring that planed surface i'm trying to achieve, to that end i also chamfer the long edges of my planes, metal or wood. i flatten my block planes because i want that polished surface on all my planes, i never know when i'll need to finish a small surface. hope that helps.

phillip
 

Mtnman

New User
Talley Pollard
Phillip,you said,
"a flat sole really makes a difference on longer planes. if the sole has an arch along its length,"
How about a short plane like a block plane. Would you flatten it also?
What you said in your post makes alot of sense, but it sounds like alot of work. I guess I will just have to try it on my bench plane and compare the difference. Thanks for the very informative reply.
 

woodguy1975

New User
John
If you have a belt/disk sander combo or an edge sander use that. There is no reason for spending lots of time flattening by hand if you have power equipment that will do the job. I'd rather be using the plane than refurbishing it.

Good Luck,

John
 

Phillip

New User
Phillip Fuentes
mtnman, i do flatten short planes. but mostly because i want that polished surface on the bottoms of them, if a block plane were measurably out of flat i'd return it. i have an old stanley block plane that i can lay a straight edge on end to end and slip a playing card in the gap, i won't bother flattening that, but i won't use it either. good block planes are readily available at flea markets, woodcraft, even lowe's so why go to the trouble of laboring over it. it is definitely hard work to true up a metal plane but i think it can be worth it. try one out and see if you can tell the difference.

phillip
 
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