Sharpening a LV plane blade upgrade...


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Hello everyone! After workign for a while with my new LV plane blade upgrade, I have to sharpen it for the first time, but I have some questions for more experienced woodworkers like you guys. I don't need to polish the back, right? I know the blade has a 30 degree bevel. I use the LV MKII honing guide for all my sharpening, but the blade-registration jig has two different color codes, red for high angles, and yellow for standard angles, both color codes have a 30 degree preset position. Wich option is right for this kind of blade and why? So far I have only used blades with a 25 dregree bevel. Hey, as always thanks for all the comments and all your help! Have a great weekend!

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I dont know how true it is, but I practice this anyways. Your 2 intersecting edges(your cutting edge) should be polished to the same grit on each side. You don't need to polish the entire back of the iron, just the edge. I use the ruler trick for my irons, and it makes it very easy to polish the edge. 

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I dont know how true it is, but I practice this anyways. Your 2 intersecting edges(your cutting edge) should be polished to the same grit on each side. You don't need to polish the entire back of the iron, just the edge. I use the ruler trick for my irons, and it makes it very easy to polish the edge. 

Hello Freddie!

I needed to know because this blades are suppose to be dead flat on the back, but you are right I have to hone the back to get rid of the burr. I just need to find the right ruler to try this trick, a really thin ruler.

Hey thanks for the advice!

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I'd use the Yellow.  Once you have the iron in the jig with the roller, and have set the iron with the contraption on the front, if you butt the roller part with the iron in it up against something that you will use in the sharpening process in the future (I use the plywood base under a grinder), you can draw a line, or put a stop there, and you can use it to set an iron with the correct projection in the future without having to fumble with attaching the front gauge. (sorry for the run-on sentence, I'm too tired this late to figure out how to explain it any simpler.

 

Be sure to have the click stop for microbevels set in the up position for the first passes, to leave the other click stops for microbevels.

 

You don't need the ruler trick using this jig.  It's just a crutch for people who sharpen by hand to make up for any irregularities on the edge.  This jig is so good that it's not necessary.  Just lay the iron flat on it's back, and a quick swipe will take care of the burr.

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I'd use the Yellow.  Once you have the iron in the jig with the roller, and have set the iron with the contraption on the front, if you butt the roller part with the iron in it up against something that you will use in the sharpening process in the future (I use the plywood base under a grinder), you can draw a line, or put a stop there, and you can use it to set an iron with the correct projection in the future without having to fumble with attaching the front gauge. (sorry for the run-on sentence, I'm too tired this late to figure out how to explain it any simpler.

 

Be sure to have the click stop for microbevels set in the up position for the first passes, to leave the other click stops for microbevels.

 

You don't need the ruler trick using this jig.  It's just a crutch for people who sharpen by hand to make up for any irregularities on the edge.  This jig is so good that it's not necessary.  Just lay the iron flat on it's back, and a quick swipe will take care of the burr.

Hey Tom! Thanks for the advice!

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Calix, you only need to use your finest stone on the flat back. Veritas blades are factory lapped to be very flat and smooth. I wouldn't use the ruler trick as it isn't necessary in this case. David Charlesworth coined the phrase and originally used the method for very pitted vintage plane irons as it was easier to polish a small strip at the tip of a rough blade than the whole back. It has nothing to do with being a hand sharpeners crutch. Hand and jig sharpeners both flatten the back the same way. In fact David Charlesworth uses a jig to sharpen and prefers the cheap Eclipse style side clamping jig.

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Calix, I had similar thoughts to you when my LV BU blade arrived and simply honed the cutting edge. The blade did a reasonable job, but it could have been better.

 

I dont know how true it is, but I practice this anyways. Your 2 intersecting edges(your cutting edge) should be polished to the same grit on each side. You don't need to polish the entire back of the iron, just the edge. I use the ruler trick for my irons, and it makes it very easy to polish the edge. 

 

Based on the reading I've done into sharpening I would have to concur with Freddie. I polished the back of the blade on a 6000 grit stone (the highest I have atm), rehoned the blade, and the difference was significant. I didn't take the back to a mirror finish but left it at a point where it made my ugly face look half decent  :)  Over time I will probably polish it further but it meets my needs right now which I think is more important. 

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I think the ruler trick is for newbs primarily. Think how easy it is to create a 1° back bevel over the first 1/16" inch of iron freehand. What is the benefit of the ruler? In my opinion it keeps your back bevel planar to the rest of the iron so one edge does not get over ground. If you are working on a narrow stone and don't have a metal ruler just carry on without feeling like you are missing something. My two cents.

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==>I think the ruler trick is for newbs primarily.

???

 

 

The ruler trick was popularized by David Charlesworth. Chris Schwarz adopted it some years ago and popularized it on this side of the Pond...

 

The ruler trick was initially intended for plane irons only, but there is current debate on the applicability to chisels -- you can find the latest arguments over at Ron Hock's Sharpening Blog... They tend to be rather esoteric... These guys love electron-micrographs, steel crystal structure, wear bevels and the like...

 

Lie-Nielsen has a couple of free YouTube videos demonstrating the technique...

 

It's well worth knowing. You may or may not choose to adopt the technique... There are some rather esoteric arguments both for and against by the sharpening pundits...

 

 

==>because this blades are suppose to be dead flat on the back

Ask a machinist --- there is no such thing as dead flat... Both LN and Veritas 'flatten' the back during machining and with with cursory lapping --- but (and this is a big but), the end user is still expected to work through the grits to a final polish. The intent of LN and Veritas is to 'get you started' in the right direction... At a minimum, the factory milling marks need to be removed and, from there, you can adopt the ruler trick if you so desire... The back and bevel should be polished to the same grit...

 

Folks who are confused by sharpening should go over to YouTube. Lie-Nielsen has invested some effort to push about two dozen videos demonstrating current 'best practices' for preparing and sharpening chisels, planes and saws...

 

If you need more detail, David Charlesworth (Hand Tool Series, vols 1-5) and Chris Schwarz (The Last Word on Sharpening) both have published well-received DVDs (available for sale at LN's on-line store) --- highly recommended...

 

Ron Hock's new book, The Perfect Edge is also quite good.

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Trip- I see both of those guys teaching. I do some things for my young students that I do not do in my own practice. I cannot see any benefit to the ruler over freehand beyond side dishing. It is so very easy to overhang the iron and then elevate slightly. If I am missing something please tell me but I spent a long time looking for a reason and never found one articulated.

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==>If I am missing something please tell me but I spent a long time looking for a reason and never found one articulated. 

The arguments for/against can get pretty far out there... You can see some compelling debate on Hock's Sharpening Blog... There are some pretty smart folks pushing its use to chisels...

 

But back to David/Chris... They were looking at the problem from a workflow perspective... If you think back about five or ten years to the popularization of harder steels and the then-available clay-matrix waterstones, you can see the ruler-trick coming into it's own... The end-user would have to flatten stones every 20-30 strokes... That's a lot of time/clay invested for not much gain... Today you've got ultra-hard ultra-fast-cutting magnesium-oxide ceramics, so the speed/consumables benefit really isn't there... That's not to say the ruler trick is now useless, but it's inherent workflow benefit is much less then it was a few years ago -- unless you're sharpening A2 irons on King/Norton/et al stones -- then it's still applicable...

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==>because this blades are suppose to be dead flat on the back

Ask a machinist --- there is no such thing as dead flat... Both LN and Veritas 'flatten' the back during machining and with with cursory lapping --- but (and this is a big but), the end user is still expected to work through the grits to a final polish. The intent of LN and Veritas is to 'get you started' in the right direction... At a minimum, the factory milling marks need to be removed and, from there, you can adopt the ruler trick if you so desire... The back and bevel should be polished to the same grit...

 

 

This^^^

 

When LV and LN say their blades come ready to use, it's pure marketing BS.  I love those companies so I give them a pass, but they're not ready to use.  They come WAY better than cheapo blades, but they're not ready for use.  Like Trip said, at the very least you have to remove the milling marks.  And I've had several blades from both LV and LN that were not flat...at least according to my stones.  Every time you get a new blade, you should flatten the backs as you hone your bevel through the grits.  The back is just as important as the bevel! :)

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It isn't marketing BS, as they don't claim they come ready to use. They have a posted flatness and smoothness spec for the backs of their irons. If you get a blade that isn't within spec send it back, plain and simple. Starting at your 1000 grit waterstone or whatever you use will inevitably make the blade less flat than it came from the store. The type of abrasive they use for grinding the backs flat results in the greyish appearance. It is very smooth. Your finest stone, as long as you keep it flat, should put a mirror polish on it in no time, if that is what you like. You are paying for these tight tolerances, so take advantage of it. If your stones disagree with the flatness of their machine shop, I would say the great majority of the time it is the stones that are out of flat.

 

You really just need to work your bevel how ever you normally do, and then do a good job of getting rid of the wire edge on your finest stone. That ease of set up is what you are paying for.

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^^ I think that's a misunderstanding. .001 tolerances can leave a mill file appearance with half of your iron .001 different and leaving a serrated cutting edge. Factory milling is medium and not fine milling. I think Eric is referencing this and not some other claim of flatness. That mill file appearance is not what I would call ready to use.

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What Carus said.  I tried finding it but I couldn't...but I'm 99% positive that I've read somewhere on the LN or LV sites, or in one of their catalogs, or in some of their literature somewhere, where they plainly state that their planes are ready to use right out of the box.  I can't find it so I can't prove it.

 

Either way, "flat" to me doesn't just mean "straight edge" flat, it means FLAT, as in you can barely see lines in this piece of metal under a microscope.

 

I sharpen with Shapton Professional stones and flatten those stones on a DMT Dia-Flat 95 lapping plate.  If you know of a better reference surface to determine the flatness of a blade, lemme know. :)

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I'm sure you did read it about the planes specifically, as in they need no fettling of any kind before use, but all of their literature states that their blades need final honing before use. Though i'm always too excited and use the blades right out of the box as well. :lol: They cut fine, just not great. For the record, they state a flatness tolerance of ±0.0002" or better over the working surface of the blade. Two ten-thousands is a lot more flatness than we will be able to measure without the approriate equipement and experience. Definately more than strait-edge flatness, or sharpening stone flatness.

 

I hope i'm not coming off as argumentative or a dick in all of this as it isn't my intent. I just have no reason to believe Lee Valley is lying about their posted tolerances, and if something slips past QA that isn't, they will make it right.

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No argument. :)  My whole point, echoing what Trip pointed out, was that when I get a blade that has mill marks visible to the naked eye, that ain't even close to what I call flat.  They may grind within .0002 over the working surface, but that doesn't mean there aren't craters the size of those on the moon in between the two sides of that blade. ;)

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I have been tempted to take a couple of different blades I have from different makers and have them analyzed at the lab I work at. We have a metal lab, and we test every conceivable detail about the metal parts that come in. In about an hour I could have enough data to bore the heck out of most of you, myself included! :)

As far as flat, I can check that too. But as far as what is really practical, the dmt is probably flatter than anyone really needs to be.

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I think folks are in violent agreement on this one...
 
For clarification, the current Veritas/LN literature don’t state ‘ready to use’, but their paid talking heads certainly do… Just attend a show, visit a ‘sponsored’ website or watch some YouTube videos… The phrase ‘ready to use’ is frequently batted-around.
 
Barring Technician/QC issues, the iron backs (face-side) arrive fairly flat, parallel to the bevel-side and square to the edge – certainly superior to what you get from the BORG…  But just as certainly, not ‘ready for use’… The face lap is usually course and must be refined prior to use.
 
Note: It's rare for V/LN to deliver a real dud where the two faces are not parallel or square, but it does happen – don’t take things for granted – check your chisels/irons for square – anything wrong should be returned.
 
From the factory, the face can be convex, concave or a combination. Perfectly flat is an engineering concept, not a reality. For a variety of reasons, the desired state is slightly concave for both chisels and plane irons – maybe a thou over the length/width. If you follow David Charlesworth's workflow very carefully, you realize that his system leaves ions/chisels slightly concave -- it's a consequence of his softer clay-matrix stones, the hard steels and the workflow steps... In his DVD series, he doesn't spell-out the concave result -- but it's there...
 
There’s a couple of ways to proceed – you can lap your way through the grits (brute force) or you can use a machinist reference surface and refine the face locally prior to lapping. Barring some expensive kit (or access to a machine shop), most folks lap their way through the grits...
 
At the end of the day, the factory machine marks need to be removed, the surface should be ‘flat’ (read as slightly concave), square to the bevel edge/face and polished to the same grit as the bevel edge.
 
There are some great YouTube videos covering this stuff. One of the newer entrants is from Workshop Heaven -- it covers chisels, but the concepts are applicable to plane irons...
 
 
Here's the LN video(s) on the ruler-trick:
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True, but their smoothness tolerance is an average roughness of 0.000005" or better. 5 microns is pretty fine, which is why i'm saying (and their own literature is saying) that you don't need anything but your finest stone when setting up the back of the blade. Why start with a stone many times coarser than the blade has already been prepared to, and less flat than we will ever get it with stones by hand?

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My only experience with a LV blade was one that came in a Shooting Plane.  The back of the iron was indeed flat.  I polished it to a mirror finish quickly on diamond lapping film that I keep on a surface plate.  On the DLF, it only takes 5 or 6 strokes on each of the final three to achieve a mirror finish.  I didn't do the whole blade-just the part down near the cutting edge.

 

In spite of claims of it being sharp out of the box, I didn't find it sharp like I like them to be.  It would shave hair on my arm, but just barely.  It did sharpen up nicely, and quickly.

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