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Thread: I never found any value in the ruler trick for plane irons

  1. #1

    I never found any value in the ruler trick for plane irons

    I ordered a new plane awhile back and I found that they had dressed the back of the plane iron with the ruler trick. Some may think the ruler trick is brilliant, but I really wish they hadn't of done that. Since it had already been ruler tricked, I stayed with it for awhile. Really, I have found the ruler trick to be a no value nuisance. My plane iron was pretty close to flat before somebody then threw all that easy to work with flatness right out the window and used the ruler trick. So then you have to keep a certain ruler around, hold the ruler in place, use a small portion of the stone. I find that clumsy compared to a small one time investment of flattening the back and polishing.

    The plane iron is pretty flat to begin with and I have an 80 grit lobster stone that will quickly level it. Hone it on some progressively finer diamond stones and then polish on a 5000 grit and 8000 grit water stone and I never have to do more to the back than remove the bur which I find very easy to do with a flat back. I can use the entire stone to do so with a flat back. It easy to hold the blade and easy to move it in the motion I am used to. I can effectively use a strop for easy touch ups on both sides of the blade.

    I don't know if I am the only person who see's it this way, but next time I order a new plane, I'm going to remember to ask them to send the iron without any back side honing. Far easier to flatten and polish an iron fresh off the grinder than deal with a ruler tricked iron.

    Maybe, I'm the only one who thinks it's easier to flatten the back once than to mess with a ruler tricked iron, but If you prefer a flat back, be warned.

  2. #2
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    I also found the ruler trick too much for my liking. So just lift the iron slightly and look for the mark on the stone where I want contact. Much quicker my shaptons are flat but not as flat as the iron.
    Its okay to do it your way.
    Aj

  3. #3
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    My mind likes to keep it as simple as possible. A flat bevel and a flat back are good for me.

    Kiss - Keep it simple sharpening

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. I've used a little bit of back bevel on irons where the back is badly pitted, but never on a perfectly good iron.

  5. #5
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    I use the ruler trick without the ruler. Lazy I guess, but lift the iron just a bit - end result works so I tend to stick with it. Prior to that, I flattened the backs and that worked too, no better, no worse.

  6. #6
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    I always thought it was used if you couldn't quite get to a sharp edge without it. I've never done it.

  7. #7
    Thank you gentlemen. Back in about 1994, I restored an old wooden plane with an ancient iron. I invented my own version of the ruler trick to restore the pitted back. But the brand new plane iron being ruler tricked was too much. I hit sharpening overload.

  8. #8
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    I donít use the ruler trick. However, what youíre describing sounds like a larger back bevel and must be rather significant to last multiple sharpenings.

    The ruler trick, as I understand it, is removed and reapplied every time the iron is sharpened.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Tracey View Post
    I ordered a new plane awhile back and I found that they had dressed the back of the plane iron with the ruler .
    This is the first time that I heard a new blade came "ruler tricked" from a vendor. Is it a small vendor or could you share your blade source?

    Simon

  10. #10
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    Hmmm...There are some people out there, that swear the only way to sharpen an edge..is to have 2-4 "Micro bevels" or the blade will not work......

    Back bevel on a plane iron? Soooo, where does the chipbreaker reside?

    IMG_4447 (640x480).jpg
    This is the "logo side" on a 2" wide Millers Falls iron......I guess they thought the bevel should be covered by the chipbreaker?
    wrong side.jpg
    Still had the factory 25 degree grind....not much to sharpen..
    IMG_4464 (640x480).jpg
    The bevel had a hollow grind to it, and was worn a tad on one corner...
    shavings.jpg
    Not too bad..for a 70 year old plane...

  11. #11
    Sean,

    What brand is the plane?

    I've never heard of a manufacturer deliberately back beveling a plane iron. It doesn't even make any sense that they would do that (customer pref, added cost, etc.).

    Way more likely the plane wasn't flattened all the way to the edge.

    I'm pretty sure if you call the manufacturer they will tell you this.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 05-29-2018 at 10:09 AM.

  12. #12
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    I love these threads. I guess I learned from a bunch of hacks that hung commercial doors all day. Most used carborundum stones. Would rub on the bevel to get a burr. Then go to the short end of the stone lay the iron flat on its back across the stone raise it up a tiny bit pull it off the stone going back and out over the edge of the stone, wire edge wipes off. Give the iron a rub or two on your striped coveralls and go to planing doors. I guess you could call it the edge trick. Does the same thing to me.
    Jim

  13. #13
    I tried it for a while. Decided I didn't like it because I couldn't get the chipbreaker set tight enough. Too many shavings stuck under the chip breaker unless it was way back off the edge..

    and so I went back to a flat back and that seems to work fine...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by John C Cox View Post
    I tried it for a while. Decided I didn't like it because I couldn't get the chipbreaker set tight enough. Too many shavings stuck under the chip breaker unless it was way back off the edge..

    and so I went back to a flat back and that seems to work fine...
    I don't use the ruler trick because I have never had a problem with my edge. The back bevel is supposed to be very small (less than 0.25mm from the edge, I would guess), and in a normal breaker setting (1/64" or so), the tiny back bevel should not cause an issue. Perhaps, David Charlesworth could chime in here.

    Simon

  15. #15
    I understand the rationale. Brent Beach showed how plane irons develop a light "wear bevel" on the back... Rather than grinding the wear bevel off - he advocated simply sharpening it... Thus "the ruler trick", lightly stropping the back, or some such...

    And you do have to do something so you aren't just "playing with the burr" when sharpening....

    I just prefer to sharpen it back off as well as I can back to flat...

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