I know I’ve written about this subject in the magazine before and I’ve used the technique several times, but I thought I’d add a little something to the story since hearing about how a few of the professional plane makers tackle a similar problem; namely grinding profiles and bevels on moulding plane irons.
Up until now I’ve been clamping the iron in a vice and taking the Dremel to the tool but like many things in life there are alternatives. So instead, why not secure the Dremel in the vice and take the tool to the grind stone? I know what you’re thinking, is that wise, won’t the Dremel get crushed ? Well yes if you’re not careful, so just be careful and if you do I think you’ll find you have more control over the cut.
You’ll need to flatten the back first of course, but that’s standard practise for any old iron (or new). There’s just enough steel left on this one to make it a user for a few more years yet. Moulding plane irons are tapered (thick at the sharp end and thin at the other) so they stay put when wedged in the plane. Once that tapering has gone there’s nothing to stop the blade from disappearing up the escapement at the first sign of a shaving.
The quickest way I’ve found to do this is with a course diamond plate and a block of wood before transferring to the edge of a water stone
Put a bit of masking tape on the back of the iron and colour it in with a Sharpie. Then slide it into place with a little more steel protruding than normal. Use a pin or sharp knife to scribe the profile from the shape of the plane’s sole. Fluff away the unwanted piece of tape and you have a clear line to follow.
I’m using the cordless Dremel 8200 and it’s good for a small number of irons at a time. As well as a selection of abrasive tools the kit comes with some polishing wheels so you can hone your edge as well. A touch of rouge helps. There are more time consuming methods and some that give better results but this is a quick way to find out if moulding planes are for you.
Don’t worry. The irony isn’t lost on me; using a sonic screwdriver to tune up an ancient tool.