This past weekend I attended a superb class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. This one-day course taught by Bob Van Dyke covered the basic concepts and practices of handplanes. It covered the usual topics of “what is a handplanes” to describing the various types, components and uses. We then had some hands-on sharpening and technique.
A main emphasis was obviously placed on sharpening. “90% of a plane’s usefulness comes from how sharp you hone the blade“. After decades of working with planes, Bob recently changed his sharpening methods based on some new learning while touring with Lie-Nielsen and showing off their planes. After taking the time to sharpen a new (or new-to-you) blade’s back and bevel angle, we added a micro-bevel at 5 degrees higher. This micro-bevel is then really easy and fast to hone as you work: simply 4 strokes on 1000 grit, 4 strokes on 8000 grit and remove the burr on the back. You can download simple instructions from Lie-Nielsen.
CVSW offers a number of classes in their two-shop-classroom location in Manchest, CT. The shop is well equipped with many workbenches, the usual power tools and many hand tools. Fantastic intructors come through the shop from Phil Lowe, Steve Latta, Mario Rodriguez and others.
I look forward to taking my next class there in two weeks: Dovetailed & Inlayed Box with Steve Latta.