Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events!

Linda and I will be attending the upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA on Friday and Saturday, January 29 (12-6) and 30 (10-5) and the following weekend, February 5 & 6, same hours) at the Crucible in Oakland, CA. I’ll have blades and plane kits to show, a couple of demo planes to show off (even one of Jim Krenov’s) as well as books to sign.

We’ve attended a few of these events in the past and find them very rewarding. They’re casual, friendly and fun. Make some time to come by and say hi. I hope to see you there.

Early Praise for The Perfect Edge and Our “Blade Bucks” Offer Lives On!

I’m not one to toot my own horn — honest. But I can’t help but share some of the kind things readers are saying about my book, The Perfect Edge. If you haven’t purchased your own copy yet, I’ve decided to extend the Blade Bucks offer indefinitely. Order your copy of The Perfect Edge from HOCK TOOLS and we’ll include a Blade Bucks certificate good for $10 off your next purchase from Hock Tools.

“Aye, mate, ’twas worth the wait. I haven’t had much time to myself until today, but on Christmas Day, amid all the extended family commotion, I was finding some peace in my leather recliner reading the first few chapters of your latest work. Well done. It’s been 38 years since I was in Materials Science class, a course I enjoyed and did well in, and your section on metallurgy should be adopted as a supplement for those courses. Much better written than any textbook I’ve ever had to wade through. It is a credit to you on how you’ve written this that I find it draws the reader in and I just keep reading along. I particularly commend you on your choice of advisers … an impressive list of experts lending their assistance, further improving the books credibility for me. I have much more to read, but this effort looks to be worth every bit of the energy you put into it — and having an autographed copy may well prove at some point to significantly enhance the perceived value on the bookshelf.” — C.D.

“Received the sharpening book today. First pass through – very satisfied – exactly what I bought it for: great information on sharpening, steel, and machines for sharpening. Glad you chose to write this book!” — B.P.

“I just received your book. I am not a non-fiction lover preferring murder mysteries. But, as a woodworker also, I have been fascinated and have learned as much about sharpening in a few hours of reading, as I accumulated over the past years. Thank-you for your efforts.” — G.T.

“Wow! I must say that you have done a masterful job of tying together an enormous amount of technical data. Your sense of humor comes through as well without distracting from the flow. The book is also a visual treat- clear large images leave no doubt as to what you mean to illustrate. There is plenty of hard data to keep the controversies going. I think you have given a very balanced view of the great variety of methods available.
In my opinion you have the absolute top book on the topic-period. Congratulations.” — B.B.

I am humbled by your kind words and thank you all so much.

(Oh and, G.T., on your preference for murder mysteries, me too. Have your read Connelly’s latest? Great stuff.)

Back Bevels and Plane Geometry

Bevel-up (BU) planes have been getting a lot of buzz lately – not undeservedly; they’re great planes. Part of their popularity comes from the ease with which the user can adjust the angle of attack – the angle at which the edge enters the wood – for planing various woods in different planing circumstances.

A=bed angle B=bevel angle A+B=C=angle of attack

To adjust the angle of attack, i.e. steeper for difficult grains, you simple hone a steeper microbevel on your blade. Reducing the angle will take a bit more time as the whole bevel must be re-ground to the lower angle. A small price to pay for such versatility.

A=bed B=primary bevel C=back bevel D=included edge E=relief or clearance F=angle of attack

You can easily achieve the same goal in your standard Stanley-style bevel-down (BD) plane by back-beveling the blade.  What’s back-beveling, you ask? It’s simply adding a small bevel on the otherwise flat back of your plane iron. Most BD planes bed the blade at 45° – the angle of attack. This is a good angle for most work. With difficult grain,that’s prone to tearing out, however, you may benefit from a higher angle of attack, say, 55° or even higher. With higher angles of attack, the fibers are less likely to be levered up by the blade to tear out of the surface you’re planing. You do have to push harder, but you can achieve a smooth surface where you may not have been able to with the lower angle. The amount of back-bevel can be quite small; the wood only sees the first few molecules of the edge so a back-bevel as small as 1/64” should suffice. And there is no need to flatten the rest of the back – a real plus.

The only down side to the back-bevel is that, if you wish to revert to a lower angle of attack, you’ll have to grind the primary bevel back past the back-bevel and start over. That’s not different, if you think about it, from the blade bevel in the bevel-up planes, where you have to shorten the blade to increase the bevel angle. With a bevel-down blade, you have to shorten the blade to decrease the angle. My friend, Brian Burns, guitar- and tool-maker, wrote a 32 page booklet about back-bevel sharpening, Double Bevel Sharpening. He’s condensed years of experimentation into an interesting tome complete with clear illustrations that even includes instructions for building his ideal honing system. Brian says that a blade’s angle of attack should be adjusted for different woods the same way a metal-cutting tool is ground at different angles for different metals. Once you have a repeatable method for dialing in the back-bevel it only takes a few extra strokes at the sharpening station to avoid tearout in difficult woods.

Happy New Year, everyone!

The illustrations above are by Martha Garstang Hill, who created the beautiful hand-drawn illustrations for The Perfect Edge. Thanks, Martha.