How to sharpen and set the blade before putting a block plane to use.

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Prepping a New Block Plane

Even new planes may feel sharp, but it almost always requires further sharpening before you can effectively shave wood with it. To do this, we recommend you use a honing guide (a wheeled carrier that holds the blade at a set angle) and a Japanese water stone or a diamond stone like the one above right. You can buy these items through any number of woodworking catalogs.

To properly set the blade in the plane, withdraw the wedge block and set the plane on a flat surface. Place the blade in the plane and use the flat surface to position the blade edge flush and parallel to the opening in the bottom of the plane. Slide the wedge into place to lock the blade into position. Then, lift the plane off the flat surface and give the back of the wedge block one good rap with the heel of your hand. That should be enough to make the blade just barely stick out of the plane's bottom (known as the sole). The blade should take a light cut of consistent depth. Expect to practice this blade-setting technique some.

The plane should make paper-thin shaving curls as you push it with moderate force over a workpiece. You'll find it comes in handy for general trimming and for planing end grain.

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