How to Sharpen Your Block Plane Iron Blade Out in the Field

By Ben Totta

I love using a block plane iron; it comes in handy for shaving down all sorts of things or shaping a board. I always have it with me in my tool bag. However, the blade gets beat up and rough on the jobsite. If you hit a nail, it can nick the iron and then it won’t cut very well.

To sharpen the blade quickly in the field, I like to make a simple honing guide out of a piece of wood, or you can buy a nice one that adjusts to the right angle. For an abrasive, I use sticky paper that is typically used for touching up finish on a jobsite. I usually have 150-, 180-, and 220-grit paper with me, so depending on what I’m doing, I’ll work up to the fine one.

If it’s really bad, I’ll start with the 150 and work up. I use my table saw top for a flat surface and put the sticky paper on top of the saw top. I hold the iron on the honing guide and slide it back and forth against the abrasive until I have a nice, clean edge all the way across. Then I’ll work up to the next finer grit and do the same thing.

That gets it reasonably sharp for what I’m doing in the field. If I were in a shop and working with a nicer plane, I would work up to a diamond plate (600-8,000 grit) and finish it off with that. With this method, I would use a bit of oil on the diamond plate and then sharpen it on there.

For what I do in the field, this is a quick and easy fix, and it gets me back and working fast with everything I already have with me in my truck.

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