A Better Way to Sharpen

For years, I have been trying to find a better way to sharpen my blades, and for a time I thought I did until I came across another video of the late David Charlesworth. It wasn’t a video on sharpening at all, but he happened to be sharpening at the time, and I was puzzled with his method of sharpening. With a few strokes he got a burr and then a few more strokes on the polishing stone, and he was done. I was beyond irritated by how quickly he was able to sharpen his blades. I left it alone as it was doing my head in and a year later it popped up again, and this time I was determined to find out how he did it.

I noticed in the video I was watching he mentioned something about the default bevel angle off 25°, Stanley grinds their tools too. So I ground my bevel to 25° and the secondary bevel to 30°, and true enough, I solved the mystery. With only a few strokes, I was able to get a razor edge, much to the same level of sharpness as I did after stropping. This was an eye-opener to me.

I’ve always ground my bevels to 30° then applied a secondary bevel of 33°, after which I stropped. However, applying a higher secondary bevel to a 25° primary bevel seems to get it even sharper, and after stropping it’s several levels above a razor.

After saying all that, let me ruin it all by adding this. I only experienced this level of sharpness after I ground the bevel to a hollow grind on my grinder. As I could not grind my LN chisels because they weren’t long enough, I honed a 25° primary bevel and then applied the secondary bevel of 30°. I cannot say if there was a difference in the amount of sharpness between the two. Since purchasing the low speed grinder, I’ve always hollow ground my plane blades to 30°, so I also cannot say that the hollow grind using a higher angle of 30° has anything to do with it as well either. However, what I can say is that the hollow grind at a lower angle of 25° has everything to do with it.

So there you have it. A hollow grind of 25° primary bevel with an added micro secondary bevel of 30° and above will give you a strong and razor edge with only a few strokes on your stones, therefore saving you unnecessary wear. You may end up owning two 1000 grit and one 8000 grit for the rest of your life with this method. That’s a huge saving.

New Depth Stop for the Small Plow Plane

Many of you have undoubtedly missed this improvement, which was introduced in 2016.
It’s a clamp that firmly clamps down on the depth stop’s shaft to prevent it from accidentally moving.
I’ve had this problem ever since I purchased the plough (plow) plane back in the day when the Australian dollar was equal to the American dollar.

None of my attempts to stop it from moving, including heavily clamping it down with pliers and sanding the cylinder, were successful. Ever since the upgrade, It’s no longer a concern. I even created a brief film to demonstrate how effective this improvement is. The sucker can even be held in by lightly clamping down on it.
Also, it is free. In addition to the upgrade and other unexpected gifts, Lee Valley sent them to me via express shipping for free. That is customer service, and many companies might benefit from their example.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know about this fantastic discovery. You can watch my video

Using this link, you can order the free upgrade from the Lee Valley Page: Free Upgrade

Mitre Shooting Board

I made a new one and not that there was something wrong with the old one, but I made it for my own pleasure. Like the previous shooting boards I made, I used quality timber. Tasmanian oak, stupidly expensive rare rosewood, NG rosewood and Philippine mahogany. Yep these were all offcuts with the exception of the oak I have hoarded over the years and were not suitable for anything else.

It’s very accurate thanks to my Stanley No.246 mitre box and my planing abilities. I more or less simply cleaned up the ends. I used my old mitre shooting to plane a 45° angle for the top edge where the plane rides along. Lastly I inserted a guide/track made from rosewood that is adjustable to keep the plane on track and to plane accurately to 45°. Because I am using a dedicated shooting plane a track is necessary. Without it the plane will not shoot accurately. The track keeps the plane in its proper position or angle. A regular plane does not need a track because you hold the plane in its proper position. There is so much more information I can add here, but in all honesty I would be parroting from Bob Rozaieski on the subject and I would like to direct you to watch his video and you will be pleasantly surprised to have learned something new like I was. https://youtu.be/C5BgSiar3Ws

I’ve decided to giveaway my old shooting boards. Like I said there is nothing wrong with them other than aesthetics however, you will need a dedicated shooting plane. Mine is a Veritas because at the time it cost me $400 whilst Lie Nielson was charging $800. Now they’re both stupidly expensive. I will say this on the subject of dedicated vs non dedicated. They both work with the exception that it’s easier to shoot with a dedicated plane due to the handle and the track keep the plane at bay. So all you have to concentrate on is pushing the work into the plane and not in both direction like you would with a Stanley plane.

I’m also adding to the list my saw vice. I was lucky enough to find a reasonably priced metal saw vice and now I have no need of this one. I can’t say I was overly pleased with it, but it worked and that’s all that matters. I’m not interested in shipping this stuff off as they are heavy and will cost a bundle. Pick up only. If it isn’t gone by this Thursday it will find itself at the local tip.

What is DAA and why we use it

French polishing is an artistic medium. When utilising shellac, mistakes are common and nothing is more stressful than having to redo hours of effort to remedy issues that you once believed were beyond your control. However, most of the time, these issues were entirely preventable. Beginners frequently get into issues with cracking, slow drying times, blooming and many other issues. The simple answer to resolving these issue is to stop using methylated spirits. Methylated spirits means differently to those in other countries, but those in Australia I’m referring to the “Diggers” brand you will find on the shelves in Bunnings stores in fact in all hardware stores.

Up to 30% of water can still be present in methylated spirits while maintaining their “methylated spirits” name. The core of many issues with French polishing and effectively applying shellac is this high water content. Dissolving the raw shellac flakes can be the very first issue you run into when employing methylated spirits. Whilst methylated spirits may be a great cleaning agent, it is definitely not for dissolving shellac nor even using it once dissolved due to the high water content.

Now I’ve met many old timers who have used methylated spirits and swears by it. That being the said I have not ever seen their work to verify their oaths.

DAA which is Denatured Absolute Alcohol is 100% pure Alcohol. Alcohol dissolves raw flakes more quickly and has a shorter drying period than methylated spirits, which contain just 70% alcohol and 30% water, which can easily produce blooming and other potential issues. Blooming are white blotches that appear on the surface and is very difficult to fix. Blooming is caused by the water content in the Methylated spirits and the moisture in the air. Even though blooming can occur even with 100% alcohol it is some what minimised.


DAA in Australia is not sold in hardware stores like Bunnings or Mitre10. Only specialty stores that sells shellac and other woodworking stores sells them. Yes, even Diggers sell them. However, please be aware that there are many grubs, sods, skuz buckets out there that will over charge and ask as much as $200 for 20litre drums. The price is $90 for 20L and as little as $10-$12 for a 1L.

Wooden Smoother

A wooden smoother from England. It was a gift sent to me from my beautiful nephew. The plane is like new, hardly used with a tight mouth. I’ve flattened the sole and worked the iron. I’m not entirely satisfied with it as I need to figure out why the mouth gets clogged after a few shavings. It arrived only today so there’s some figuring out to do before I open the mouth.

I would like to know your thoughts on it. Help me find a solution.