Stanley A6 handplane performance after sharpening the iron (“blade”)

My brother-in-law gave me the (fairly rare) Stanley A6 aluminum handplane as a present recently. Although it needs a little work to improve appearance, I simply wanted to check how it would perform after sharpening the iron (“blade”).

I was interested in sharpening this hand plane right away, as the iron had nice camber to it; this was a signal that the previous owner used it to quickly flatten edges and faces on lumber. My guess is that the camber is about a 6- to 8-inch radius.

What do you think? I still must sharpen a bit more, using my scary sharp setup – five PSA sheets of sandpaper on a large and very flat 1/4-inch plate glass.

I *needed* a longer hand plane, as the Stanley 4-1/2 was the longest I had. This one will do a great job at jointing lumber I will be using for small boxes.

The A6 is technically a foreplane, which falls between the A7/A8 jointer planes, and the #3 and #4 smoothers, and the jack plane, or #5.

As time permits, I might clean up some of the surfaces on the iron, the cap iron, the frog, and the plane body itself. I will probably not replace the broken tote (“handle”).

– Al Navas

Woodworking in America video: Honing the iron for the jointer plane

Christopher Schwarz shows how to easily and properly sharpen the iron for the jointer plane. Included by popular demand, and with thanks to The Schwarz.

The question that is likely to follow is: Will a similar technique apply to the iron for the smoothing plane? Answer: Yes. You just vary the count (see below, and watch the details in the video).

In its simplest form, you count to ten (or to twenty) while honing the outermost edges. Then… Oh, heck – please watch the video.

Using this technique will make you the sharpening guru you have always wished you were – guaranteed! But you will need a $10 blade holder, and some stones, or sand paper, whatever you use to sharpen. Be consistent, and admire your sharpening skills as they move into the stratosphere — OK, I exaggerate. As a bonus, you will be able to tell your friends that you put an arc to chord of only 0.008″ (8 thousands of an inch!) on that iron – they will be impressed!

I am first to admit that in the last two years I have been doing a much better job with my blades; but from now on I will follow Schwarz’s technique of sharpening. I just know I will be able to get them much sharper than I have to date. And my arc to chord is on the money.

Please let me know:

  • Are you already a sharpening guru?
  • If you are, do you use the technique described by Schwarz in the video?
  • How do you achieve consistent, terrific sharpness on your plane irons?
  • Or have you been struggling (like me), but look forward to improve your sharpening results?

Al Navas

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Duration: 15:51 minutes