I’ve got an old plane that my grandfather left me. I’d like to use
it, but its cutting iron is really rusty. Do I need to buy a new one?
Don’t throw away that iron yet. Flattening the back of a plane iron
is usually the first step in sharpening, but you might spend hours to
get down below the rust pits to clean steel.What a chore!
Here’s a non-standard method that could rescue your antique
plane iron. Rather than flatten the entire back, work only on the
leading edge to create a very small, low-angle bevel. This will slightly
increase the cutting angle of the plane, but you probably won’t notice
The catch is that you must hone this back bevel at a consistent angle
every time you sharpen.Use a standard honing guide to sharpen the
main bevel of the iron and simply turn it upside down to create the
back bevel. If you prefer to sharpen without a guide, you can create the
back bevel by laying a shim on top of your stone. The shim slightly
raises the blade the same way the guide does.
Click any image to view a larger version.
Hone a small bevel on the back side of a rusty blade...
... to quickly get down to clean steel.