For the majority of the knives I’ve made, I split the handle down the middle (lengthwise) and fit it around the tang of my knife’s blade. On many of my smaller knives I have a hidden tang, so the tang doesn’t show at any point around the handle, except where it extends out the front.
For some of the knives, the tang is fairly narrow, but still strong for the intended type of work. With this size though, it can be a bit limiting as to the tools I can use when evacuating the wood where the tang will fit.
The width of the handle scales (when laid on there side) is also an issue, as one of the tools I’d normally choose would be my Lie-Nielsen No. 71 or my old Stanley No. 71. Even with the closed mouth version that I have, it is very difficult, if not impossible to stay registered on the outer wood, so the small square blade for the No. 271 is of no real use. As for shifting to the No. 271, I really prefer to have a fine screw-adjust, when sneaking up on a final depth.
A couple of years ago a friend of mine showed me a gift he received from his kids, and it was one of the Lee Valley mini planes, which got some chuckles from everyone around. He went on to share that it was truly completely functional, which I know it says on the website, but it was still hard for me to wrap my head around. Ok, shift back to present time, and I decided to take a chance and ordered one of the Lee Valley Mini Router Planes (shown above in the lower portion of the photo), hoping my results might surprise me.
I opened the packaging and my heart sort of sunk. The presentation box this little router plane comes in is so tiny, almost to the point where I was afraid I’d made a mistake. I opened the box and the plane was so amazingly small, but all of the parts worked super smooth. I took the blade out of the plane and took it to my Shapton 1000-grit Glass Stone (as this blade is quite narrow, the Glass series stone is one of the few stones I trust will not create a long dado in the stone in rapid order) and worked the bottom of the blade. This blade is made from A2 steel, and it took a fair amount of time to work so it showed a consistent scratch pattern.
This wasn’t because the blade was out of square or warped, just because the steel was so hard! It felt like I was working a super high Rc valued Japanese iron, or something on that magnitude. I followed doing the same on the bevel side of the blade, but since this is such a small blade, I could only make short back and forth movements. All of the sharpening was freehand, as no guides that I have would work with this blade. After both mating surfaces were complete on the 1000-grit, and I had a small burr, I very lightly worked both surfaces on my Norton 8000-grit water stone. This stone is much softer and I was very cautious not to stay in one spot for too long. I brought in my Glass Stone 16000-grit to finish up the blade, and brought both edges to a razor sharpness.
While I had the mini Router Plane apart, I noticed it’s sole still had mill marks from manufacturing, so I put some sandpaper down on my flat granite plate and worked it until all of the milling marks were gone. I applied some wax to the sole, which is what I do to the sole on all of my hand planes, so the friction between the wood and plane is almost nil. There is no good reason to leave the sole unworked, and basically fight against the wood.
After re-assembling the mini router plane, I took it to a knife handle where I’d already cut along the shape of the tang, with an Exacto knife, and removed a fair amount with a very sharp chisel. When I set the mini router plane onto the handle blank, it looked like this might actually work. The size of the little router plane just looked like it was the proper scale for the work needed. I was so pleasantly amazed when I started removing wood, as the blade in the router plane was cutting through the wood like it was butter. And this feeling didn’t stop anytime soon. I finished both inside areas of the handle for this knife blade, and it was still going strong. Part of this is the small cross-section of area it is cutting, but still, the A2 in this blade is really holding its edge like a champ!
I hope you enjoyed the read and perhaps will test the same for yourself. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
@LeeLairdWoodworking – IG
@LeeLairdWW – Twitter
I decided it would be a good idea to make at least one last video relating to the subject of how I sharpen Carving Knives See here for the original article. I always do my best to choose my words so the reader can envision what I’m talking about, but I know that some people are more visual learners. With this in mind, I made a relatively short video this morning and just posted it on Youtube. Just in case the player below doesn’t get along with your viewing system, the quick-link for the new video is: https://youtu.be/QLukWL0wC5Y
There is one thing I want to include, that I didn’t record in the video. Obviously for a knife (or any tool) to be sharp, both sides of the blade must be equally honed, as whichever side is less refined will be the limiting factor in actually getting the tool sharp. Most will have one side of the blade that is the most easy to hone, and its just a matter of finding what works best for you, when working on the “other” side of the blade. You can either leave the actual blade pointing in the same direction as when working the first side, and just flip the knife physically over, but that puts your finger in potential danger (either on one side or the other, in the flipping scenario), as the cutting edge will face them on one of the sides. The other option (which I use) is to hold the handle on the first pass, so the tip of the blade is pointing to my right, with the cutting edge upward. When I work the second side, I rotate my wrist so the tip of the blade is now pointing to my left, while again keeping the cutting edge upward. This is a safety net of sorts, since I might move forward slightly with the hand holding the sharpening media, and even if I were to move so far forward that my rear fingers contacted the blade, they would only touch the spine of the blade.
I hope this helps clarify how I’m sharpening blades with a hollow-grind. As I referenced in the first article, I use a similar process when I am honing other blades that no longer have a hollow-grind remaining, or have flat bevels from the maker. Let me know if there is anyone that is interested in me making a video where I show the steps and specific techniques I use on a knife with flat bevels.
Thank you for checking out this article. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
@LeeLairdWoodworking – InstaGram
@LeeLairdWW – Twitter
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