Two Better Than One?

I enjoyed the recent dialogue about bevel-up and bevel-down planes, their respective wear bevels and such that, I believe, started here. It was an excellent exploration of the basic issues pertaining to how planes actually work. While I don’t advocate one or the other (honest!) I think there have been some misconceptions that needed air (or is it light?) about which does what and why and I appreciated the way the exchange enhanced the knowledge base. I figured I’d about used up my two cents when I found out yesterday that my friend and neighbor, Brian Burns, has just released a new, revised edition of his book, Double Bevel Sharpening: The new/old method for eliminating tear-out with hand planes, and jointers and planers.

New Inside Cover from Brian Burns' Double Bevel Sharpening (click image to enlarge)

This book sheds yet more light (or is it air?) on the subject from someone who has done exhaustive research and experimentation for the last decade and a half and has distilled it all down to a simple approach in a 20-or-so-page booklet that sells for a mere $13.75 (including shipping!) from Brian directly: 866-214-9472 or from Luthier’s Mercantile or Japan Woodworker. Brian explains how you can plane any wood with a standard bench plane, without tear-out, by simply adjusting the angle of attack through the judicious application of a back bevel on the blade. The book is full of useful information for your hand planes as well as your jointer and planer, with illustrations, diagrams as well as plans for a sharpening system that facilitates it all.

Brian adds a lot of useable information to this dialogue. The conclusion I’ve drawn from all this is that, for plane irons, it may be time to scrap the notion that a blade has only a bevel and a flat back. I’m starting to see a new plane geometry paradigm: that there are simply two bevels that meet at an edge and that adjusting their relationship to one another and to the plane and the wood will help us realize the best performance from whatever plane we have.

About Ron Hock

Owner of HOCK TOOLS (.com) and author of "The Perfect Edge, the Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers"
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2 Responses to Two Better Than One?

  1. Jack says:

    A a rookie in the field, what Brian tells me is that the important thing is ‘what the wood sees’. The other metal around is important, and doing double bevels is the way to accomplish having enough metal close enough and things held appropriately rigid enough is what everything else is about related to planes. But if the wood and chips are not supported and ‘addressed’ with the proper blade at the correct angle, the rest is for naught.

    So, in short, there is only one edge, but the ‘support structure’ is important too.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. W Mickley says:

    The trouble with using back bevels or high angle planes is that the surface quality suffers. The more tender woods especially get a cloudy surface when planed with a high cutting angle. Noticing the wear bevel difference on bevel up and bevel down planes hardly started with Konrad. I made a post on Wood Central 2/19/2006 saying that bevel up irons required much more sharpening to eliminate the wear bevel. I have mentioned this numerous times since then, recently on Wood Net 5/17/2010.
    http://www.woodcentral.com/cgi-bin/archives_handtools.pl/bid/3106/pro/search/pmd/sread/srchid/246369Pc15RbWOTDAKv61283983094/spage/1/sanc/84605/sbid/3106/md/read/id/84595/sbj/bevel-up-disadavantages/

    http://www.forums.woodnet.net/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=4883906&page=&view=&sb=5&o=&fpart=1&vc=1

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