A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to the city for the day…of course this meant a trip to the local Lee Valley store. I had nothing in mind as far as purchases, so I headed directly for the clearance center for a browse…after a quick scan I was about to leave when I spotted a box that had a sticker on it:
Interested, I opened the box:
4 Steel Honing Plates for 2 bucks each…JACKPOT!!!!
These normally retail for $25 each and there were 4 in the box, so I threw them under my arm and headed for the checkout like a bandit! Total $8 plus tax…not including the diamond paste of course. Why so cheap? On my initial observation I noticed that the plates must have been dropped or damaged somehow, and each one had a few nasty dings on the edges. But each of the four had a good side with minimal edge damage. Since I was only going to use the one good side anyway, all it took to make them useable was a few swipes with a file to slightly chamfer the edges and remove any burrs etc.
Very impressed with the results I got on the first try…nice fluffy 1 3/4 inch wide shavings in mildly curly maple. I used the 6 micron paste followed by 1 micron on another plate, and finished up with a couple strokes on the strop charged with green chromium. This is my Richards & Conover No. 4 1/2 smoother…previously I had a difficult time getting a really good edge on this iron, disappointing, because it is almost full length and thicker than the comparable Stanleys…but the plates and diamond paste put a very keen edge on it.
My plan is to make some traditional wooden boxes (ala Paul Sellers) for the honing plates to keep them clean and protected.