I have been working with wood for more years now that I can think of and all I knew was power tools and sand paper. Well that is changing as of my latest tool purchase. I completed a job and decided with the money I made I would finally buy a nice hand plane to add to my tools. Up to now the only hand plane that I had any experience with was a box store purchased Stanley block plane that I had no real way to sharpen.
Let me start with what has kept me from making this purchase for so long, the FEAR of sharpening. There are so many different mediums to use, where do you start. I was under the impression that the only way to get a great sharp edge was to spend more money than I have on water stones and lapping plates. Well I can tell you that I do not own any water stones, just a great assortment of sand paper and a good honing guide. I have done allot of reading on sharpening where professionals who hone their tools on a daily basis do it by feel. I tried this approach with my block plane and was never able to get satisfactory results until I bought my honing guide. Watch out that blade is sharp now. Using a piece of granite I have purchased wet dry sand paper from Lee Valley in 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, and 2500 grits.
Here is my newest tool, Veritas low-angle smoothing plane. What a joy it is to use a well honed plane, I had no idea. I was like a kid in a candy shop when that box arrived. I ran to the porch and started smoothing a piece of ash that I have waiting for me to build a table top from. I was so enjoying my experience of hand planing I did not take notice of the pile of wood shavings that was building up at my feet. Needless to say my wife was not happy with me when saw the mess that I had made. Even with my best attempts to get her to take notice of the flawless finish that my new tool had made I was ordered to get my toy away from the house if I am going to make messes like that.
If you have considered the use of hand planes in your wood working there is nothing to be afraid of, you can do what I did tell the wife it is exercise equipment. I will put a shameless plug in here for the Veritas bevel up planes and the mkII honing guide, money well spent.