View Full Version : bevel angle and honing guide
01-24-2005, 03:35 PM
i picked up the $20 General honing guide at the hardware store. It is the one that is hinged and has a setting for using a stone or paper. It says all settings use a 30 degree bevel.
my plane says it is 25 degrees. If i use this honing guide will it make my blade (from a stanley smoothing plane) less effective?
how will it effect my chisels?
Should i return it and pay twice as much for the "good" one?
01-24-2005, 04:32 PM
That's the one I use - the only one I've used. See this thread:
I don't use the indicators on the hinge for setting the angle. I mount the blade and then adjust the angle of the hinge so it's set to the angle I want. I get good results using this guide.
01-24-2005, 08:15 PM
I used the General for quite a while. Getting the iron both square to the jig and the correct distance was a problem. There are several home made jigs that will do this, but 5 degrees isn't worth it.
One suggestion, to make a micro-bevel. Once you have honed the primary bevel, change the depth setting, this will keep the iron in the jig, but change the bevel angle.
I don't fuss too much about bevel angle, square and straight is far more important than 20, 25, or 30 degree bevels.
01-25-2005, 01:10 PM
I've got one of those type jigs around somewhere but don't use it because I use several different thicknesses of medium to sharpen on.
As to the bevel angle, it is more important than you think. 30 degrees is fine for mortice chisels or others which will be struck in use. The 30 degree bevel is significantly stronger than a narrower bevel, but also requires significantly more force to cut with. Paring chisels and others which will be used with only hand pressure are better sharpened to a 25 degree, or so, bevel because the lower angle requires less force behing it to cut efficiently.
Bevel angle becomes even more important when they concern bevel up handplanes. The bevel angle plus the bedding angle equal the cutting angle. Some planeing actions are better accomplished with a low cutting angle, i.e. planing end grain. Others, such as smooth planing wild grain in hardwoods, is much better done with a higher cutting angle. In bevel down planes, the bevel angle, beyond that required for the bevel to allow the cutting edge to contact the wood, is irrelevant. The common 45 degree bedding angle of the bench plane is sort of a compromise between a higher angle for narly woods and a lower angle which works better with soft woods.
The recent proliferation of new plane models, even bench type, set up to be used bevel up, takes advantage of the blade's bevel angle to obtain the maximum benefit. For example, many folks are buying the new low angle jack planes and also purchasing a second iron, either factory ground at a higher angle or with the intention of grinding the second iron to a higher angle for general long grain planing.
01-25-2005, 09:38 PM
Well i spent the better part of the day tending to my new smoothing plane and low angle block plane i got from Grizzly.
A couple questions arose throughout the process:
1. Is it faster to use a lubricant on the paper or to just go at it dry brushing off debris every so often (using scary sharp method)?
2. The General hinged honing guide is FAR from exact or scientific if you ask me. After using it i think i may just keep it for my chisels and buy the veritas jig for $40 for my plane irons. Will that jig be easier to set the iron in place and hone at the correct angle? How about repeatability?
3. Using abrasive sheets, does it matter if they're "Wet Dry" or just plain old sand paper? I had a pretty bad concavedness (if that's a word) to the sole of my low angle block and so i just grabbed some regular garnet 100grit paper to try and it seems to knock it down at a pace i liked a lot better, is this bad?
4. I got everything set up and sharpened, but it didn't trim any hairs off my arm, how long am i supposed to hone on each grit? is it just like sanding wood?
5. I plan on "fixing" my planes all over again, pretending they came as they are right now they still need some tuning. Any tips to make the process faster? My smoothing plane has a small hollow in the rear of the sole plate i haven't gotten out yet, it seemed to be rather laborious to try and get it out at the pace i was going so i gave up, can i just take my belt sander to it? or perhaps plunk it on a stationary disk sander to make it flat?
6. My irons had a tendency to dig on one side indicating the bevel wasn't square, what's the best method for checking squarness in a honing guide?
01-25-2005, 10:46 PM
1. I like using a little water from a spray bottle to help keep the metal from clogging up the sandpaper.
3. I've used 100-150 grit garnet paper, but only for very aggressive removal - lapping the sole or when regrinding a bevel on a chisel or plane iron.
4. I'm not a fan of the hair-trimming test method. I think the proof is in the pudding. If it takes nice shavings off a piece of wood, that's all that's important to me. That way, I keep my elegant arm hairs.
5. I've used a belt sander on a plane sole. I used a pretty high grit belt (120 or 180) since the belt sander takes so much material off so quickly. Just watch out for heat build-up.
6. With the General, I use my combination or try square and draw a few pencil lines across the back of the blade. Doing this makes lining up the blade in the guide pretty easy - not as easy as the auto-aligning jigs, but good enough for me.
My opinions are most likely not the majority opinion. :P
01-25-2005, 11:48 PM
>Well i spent the better part of the day tending to my new
>smoothing plane and low angle block plane i got from
>A couple questions arose throughout the process:
>1. Is it faster to use a lubricant on the paper or to just
>go at it dry brushing off debris every so often (using scary
What the lubricant does is wash away the metal shavings and busted off grit from the abrasive. It does speed the process and, if you're using sandpaper, extends its useful life. You don't want to use something real thick, like motor or even honing oil as this cloggs the abrasive and also keeps the abrasive from cutting as well. Water or mineral spirits work, as well as kerosine or diesel fuel.
>2. The General hinged honing guide is FAR from exact or
>scientific if you ask me. After using it i think i may just
>keep it for my chisels and buy the veritas jig for $40 for
>my plane irons. Will that jig be easier to set the iron in
>place and hone at the correct angle? How about
If you get the jig as well as the angle setting jig, you will get excellent repeatability. It is fairly simple with both to get the iron or a wider chisel blade set squarely and accurately. Why not use the Veritas Jig for your chisels also? There should be a little stick on rubber pad with the jig. Put it in place so that your iron or chisel is clamped against it. It helps with securing the blade in place.
>3. Using abrasive sheets, does it matter if they're "Wet
>Dry" or just plain old sand paper? I had a pretty bad
>concavedness (if that's a word) to the sole of my low angle
>block and so i just grabbed some regular garnet 100grit
>paper to try and it seems to knock it down at a pace i liked
>a lot better, is this bad?
When putting a new bevel onto chisels and plane iron, I also use my belt sander with 180 or 220 grit belt. Got to be careful with high carbon steel blades so they don't get too hot, but it works fine. It is hard to find wet/dry paper in the lower grits, so the regular dry stuff is fine for that.
>4. I got everything set up and sharpened, but it didn't trim
>any hairs off my arm, how long am i supposed to hone on each
>grit? is it just like sanding wood?
Using your initial grit, work the bevel till it is covered evenly with scratches from that grit and you can feel a wire edge on the back side of the blade. If you can't get a wire edge fairly quickly, switch to a courser grit. Once you get to that go to your next finer grit and work the bevel till you have sanded away the scratches from the previous grit and have new finer scratches. Repeat this process up through all of your grits. Eventually, around 600 grit or so, you will start seeing a mirror-like surface. When you get to your final grit, do the bevel, then flip the blade over and use that last grit on the last 1/4" or so of the back.
To test the blade, simply hold it in one hand and set the edge on the thumbnail of your other hand with the bevel up. Raise it to about a 20 or 30 degree angle and push it lightly, with only the weight of the blade for downwardpressure and push it a bit. If it is sharp, it will catch on your thumbnail and start to cut a nice shaving with very little pressure.
>5. I plan on "fixing" my planes all over again, pretending
>they came as they are right now they still need some tuning.
>Any tips to make the process faster? My smoothing plane has
>a small hollow in the rear of the sole plate i haven't
>gotten out yet, it seemed to be rather laborious to try and
>get it out at the pace i was going so i gave up, can i just
>take my belt sander to it? or perhaps plunk it on a
>stationary disk sander to make it flat?
Belt sander works best. If yours is a handheld model, clamp it to your bench with the belt up and take the plane to it rather than taking the belt sander to the plane.
>6. My irons had a tendency to dig on one side indicating the
>bevel wasn't square, what's the best method for checking
>squarness in a honing guide?
The Veritas Jig has a bar across through which the hold down thumb screw is threaded. It is very handy for checking the squareness of the blade in the jig using a small square. With the angle setting guide it is generally a matter of getting the specific gauge square to the baseplate before usng it. You put the blade into the jig with more blade protruding than what the angle calls for, then slide the blade into the gauge and push the jig forward until until the blade is secured under the gauge, then tighten the thumb screw down. If you get the blade seated into the gauge all of the way across, then slide the jig forward inline with the gauge base, you will be as near to square as you can get.
01-26-2005, 02:34 PM
when using sand paper to flatten/bevel the metal is there a specific pattern to the movement to get the best results? Or can i just go back and forth?
I was in the middle of sanding the sole plate and this Mr. Know-It-All came by and informed me I should be going in figure 8's and rotating the thing every couple minutes (which i had been rotating btw). He supposedly worked in some metal polishing shop and was blah blahing about how i was doing it wrong. After he left i tried the figure 8 thing and it didn't seem to minimize scratches anymore than simply moving it up and back.
how do you sand when using the scary sharp method to flatten your sole plate and the back of your irons? What about when you're making the bevel?
01-26-2005, 03:02 PM
>I was in the middle of sanding the sole plate and this Mr.
>Know-It-All came by and informed me I should be going in
>figure 8's and rotating the thing every couple minutes
>(which i had been rotating btw). He supposedly worked in
>some metal polishing shop and was blah blahing about how i
>was doing it wrong. After he left i tried the figure 8 thing
>and it didn't seem to minimize scratches anymore than simply
>moving it up and back.
If you are having a tendency to lean to one side while lapping the sole, the figure-8 will help to make sure you keep the removal of material as even as possible . . . but you'd have to do one HECK of a lot of lapping to make it even a measurable difference . . . so Mr' Know-it-all wasn't all wet . . . but in practice, just changing direction (back and forth toe first, then switch to back and forth heel first, then back again, and so on) should keep things wearing off the sole evenly.
01-26-2005, 07:37 PM
If the area in front of the mouth is not hollowed but flat the benefits derived from getting the whole of the sole pancake flat are minimal...it looks nice in the shower but doesn't perform any better.
The principle being that you need the fibres under close control just before they are lifted by the blade's cutting action..if there is a hollow at this point the fibres will tend to split and tear out more readily.
Believe me I used planes for years which had hollow soles and didn't know it..all worked perfectly well as far as I was concerned after I had learned the art of sharpening. Only when I started planing really curly grain and had set the mouth as fine as I could did the benefits of a totally flat sole pay any rewards.
Getting the blade 'razor' sharp is the most positive thing you can do.
01-28-2005, 11:44 AM
this bevel honing guide seems wrong to me. None of the plane irons or chisels i own have anything close to a 30 degree bevel. If that is the typical angel people use then why do all of my factory edges say 25 degrees or smaller?
My blue marples chisels i just got have a 20 degree bevel on them. Should i just make a 30 degree edge to them anyway? i'm confused.
My honing guide won't let me go to 20 degrees what should i do?
01-28-2005, 01:44 PM
I presume you're talking about the Veritas guide, and I can say most definitely that the angles on that bevel setting guide are accurate.
If you're still using the hinged guide, then . . . From what I understand, there are two separate sets of lines or a protractor type dial and two lines that are used to index it to the protractor or some such. One line or set is for using it on sandpaper while the other is for using it on a sharpening stone. Problem is that stones range from 1/4" to nearly 1 full inch that I've seen and then as they are used they wear down etc. five or ten degrees of difference could easily be noted depending on the thickness of the stone and that doesn't even account of stone holders which may increase that margin of error even further. You'd be better off cutting a wood wedge at an appropriate angle and using it rest on the stone or other media to gauge your sharpening.
That the factory bevel on the chisels and plane irons are in the neighborhood of 20 degrees, I can only say that the more accute angle requires less force behind it to cut. One of the things I have heard said about the Blue Chips is that they really don't know what kind of chisel they want to be. That more acute angle in soft wood would give the benefit of an easier cut, and the concern over the fragility of the edge would be minimized. If you're wanting to use them for paring in hard woods, I would recommend changing to a 25 degree bevel, and if you might need to smack them with a mallet on occassion, I would go to a 30 degree bevel.
If I remember correctly, the back of the blister pack for the guide and jig gave some good info on bevel angles. I think I've still got mine around to refer to on occassion.
01-28-2005, 01:52 PM
well, i wish i had the veritas guide, but i don't
As stated above i have the General guide. The grey plastic hinged guide that has only one setting, 30 degrees.
So basically i can re-bevel all my chisels and planes to 30 degrees and not see a reduction in cutting ability (assuming they're sharp)?
What about my low angle block? Should i try and lower the angle somehow? How low should a low angle block iron be honed at? (and don't end your sentences with a preposition!)
01-28-2005, 02:11 PM
Wow, that was quick. I reread your previous post and thought maybe you were still using the General so I edited my other one and then found this post. Like stated above, I don't know how they could really make that thing produce accurate angles, especially on stones. I'd check the factory bevel angles with a protractor, just to know for sure.
A cheaper, possibly more available, and much better sharpening guide than the General, and a good one to have even if you decide to go with the Veritas is this guide:
Rockler and Woodcraft both have them. The bevel angle is set by extending the blade a stated distance from the guide for a specific angle. Comes with a littl chart telling you the measurement.
I've though at times of knocking out a simple wedge shaped wooden block with a simple method of clamping a plane iron or chisel to it to use as a guide. Make one for each bevel angle you need. Could even rig a simple system for insureing squareness.
While a 30 degree bevel would give you a 42 degree cutting angle, that is not that much advantage. The LA blocks are, I think, designed around a 25 degree bevel giving a 37 degree cutting angle. Only five degrees, but, I think, five very useful degrees when slicing end grain.
01-28-2005, 03:23 PM
hey that's a GREAT tip! Thanks! i would have never thought of that. I've been grinding away at my chisels and plane irons all day today and i think i'm getting the knack of this. The hardest thing is keeping it square.
I am definately going to use that angle guide (speed square) trick. Thanks a bunch!
01-28-2005, 06:18 PM
01-28-2005, 06:32 PM
Ah Limes, the chill air and warm beer are getting to ya, eh? Instructions? We don't got no instructions. We don't need no stinking instructions!!
01-28-2005, 06:33 PM
>Shoot Rob you mean you actually ignore the markings and
>adjust it to the situation you are using it it in.... like
>you change the angle yourself if you change from a sheet of
>sandpaper on the bench to a stone......
Radical idea, ain't it? }>
>Have you told General about this they need to know...ooops
>hang on I see that they tell you to do this on the
>Congrats..you must have read the destructions }>
There were destructions that came with it?
06-02-2010, 10:17 AM
Here's (basically) what I do to setup for the right angle with the General guide. I mentioned before, I don't use the guide marks on the hinge of the guide at all.
I insert the blade so that it's sufficiently extended out of the jig, and square it up in the guide. Then I set up the guide with an "angle guide" of some sort, like in the square in the picture below. I set them up so both the point of the blade and the origin point on the square are butted up against a straightedge. Then I simply adjust the guide until I get the angle I want.
The Veritas set sounds nice, but I have lots of other things I want to buy. I already have this guide, and it works fine for me without too much fuss, so I keep using it. That leaves me money for other stuff. :)