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3 Tips on Looking After Hand Tools

3 Tips for sharpening handtools

Sharpening and setting up tools is not all that difficult but it is an essential step to get good results. I had a customer come in who wanted to have his two planes and chisel sharpened (before anyone thinks I'm on a retainer for expensive honing, I'm not. I encourage people to learn how to do it for themselves and the only "class" I've ever done for someone to get to grips with their handplane) and it seemd a good idea to do a quick tune up and refelct on a few pointers some might find helpful.


Flattening the sole of a metal plane. My tip here is use 80 grit PSA sand paper and only 80 grit. I have found no benefit to going beyond 80 grit. I bought mine here. Quick disclaimer, I bought it myself at normal rates and get nothing free. This type of abrasive is clean and easy to use. Work on a flat surface. For us that's easy, I use one of our machine beds. Don't work with dull paper, change it out as it looses it's cut. The #5 Stanley took 20 minutes to get in flat enough for work


A grinder is very helpful. One of the reasons I had these tools in was the chisel had struck a nail and had two big chips out of the blade. By hand methods alone I would have wasted a large ammount of time. We have a bench grinder and a Tormek. Both are great, you'll just need to figure out what's best for you.


Care for your tools. Both planes I worked on were rusty. Always care for your tools! Frequent use is the best way to keep things in good order. If I need to tidy up some neglected tools like the two planes bought in I spray over some WD40 and clean off. With my own tools there is an oily rag nearby as I use oilstones to sharpen. Mineral oil (think baby oil) is cheap so I use that but "3 in 1" or jojoba are options too.