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Maintaining Your Plane

Your new Philly Plane comes ready to use out of the box. Over time and with use your plane may need some simple maintenance to keep it working correctly.  Here are some helpful tips to keeping your plane in perfect condition.

 All our planes are "Single iron" planes - there is no chipbreaker or back-iron. When the wedge is loosened it is possible for the iron to slide through the mouth and drop out so always be aware of this fact when adjusting your plane

The first thing to remember is that your plane is made of wood. As woodworkers we are aware of the effect moisture has on timber, so when you first bring your new plane into the workshop allow a few weeks for it to acclimatise before carrying out any adjustments.

 The Sole

 A flat sole is essential for optimum performance. If you find your plane won’t take a fine shaving or you are experiencing erratic results check the condition of the sole. To do this, retract the blade into the body of the plane and tighten the wedge to its regular setting. Then place the plane onto a flat surface – the table of a surface jointer or table saw will suffice. Some folks use a piece of float glass or a granite surface plate for sharpening – this would be perfect.

Rock the plane gently side to side and front to back – it should feel flat and “well planted”. Then hold the plane at the toe and swivel it sideways in an arc – notice where the plane wants to pivot.  A common problem is a “bump” developing behind the mouth.

 Place a sheet of 180 grit sandpaper on your flat surface and stick it down with masking tape around the perimeter. Place the plane on the sheet and, with a firm and even grip on the plane, take one stroke. Inspect the sole and notice where the sandpaper has left marks. The untouched areas are low points and the marked areas are high points. The sole must be flat in these important areas – the toe, the area directly in front of the mouth, directly behind the mouth and at the heel of the plane. If the sandpaper has left marks in these areas the sole is flat and no more work is necessary. If any of these areas are untouched take additional strokes on the sandpaper to bring them into line.

With the sole trued apply a coat of paste wax to your plane to seal and lubricate the surface.

 The Iron

A sharp iron is essential - most planing problems can be solved simply by sharpening the iron.

The irons come with a 25 degree primary bevel and a 30 degree secondary bevel honed. This gives a keen edge that is easy to maintain. If you work a lot of tough, interlocked hardwoods a 35 degree secondary bevel can give a stronger edge.

We use Japanese Waterstones to hone our irons before shipping but any sharpening system (Scary Sharp, diamond stones, Ceramic stones, Oil stones) is appropriate – the important thing is to get a sharp edge and keep it that way.


If you have any questions or queries don't hesitate to email us at phillyplanes@googlemail.com