I resharpen when I notice any of these:
- Small nicks in the edge
- Tear out
- I’m tired.
The third bullet is my most common guide. Sharpening is a good break from planing. It’s amazing how much easier a sharp plane is to push!
When resharpening the blade, I don’t regrind every time. I just hone starting at 15 micron. I only regrind when honing at the 15 micron abrasive starts taking too long. When I regrind, I don’t go all the way to the edge. The previous sharpening steps defined the edge to be just the shape I want, so I don’t want to destroy the edge with the belt sander. I use the previous edge as my guide when grinding.
You may need to experiment a little with how much metal to remove at the first honing when resharpening. You want to remove all the previous microbevels and the “wear bevel.” The wear bevel is a bright, shiny line right at the edge. It’s the place where the edge is rounded over and will reflect light from a point light source. Remove the wear bevel with the 15 micron and then move up to through the grits. Most of my time spent when rehoning is at 15 micron.
Another way to proceed is to start at 40 micron. If that case, you hone until you can feel a wire edge on the back of the blade. I used this method for quite a while, but producing that big wire edge may weaken the edge, so I’m trying to stick with 15 micron.
When resharpening, I try to remove as little metal as possible from the back. That’s why I start honing the back at 5 micron, not 15 or 40 micron. I don’t want the back bevel to grow.
I have not had good luck “touching up” an edge. If it needs to be resharpened, I just go through all the steps.
If you find yourself reluctant to resharpen, then get a dedicated sharpening station setup. Sharp tools are much easier to use. Spend a few hours and build a little cabinet for your glass like the one to the right. The glass is restrained on 3 edges when it is on top being used. All the glass is stored below. That keeps saw dust off of it.
A tip I learned from Christopher Schwarz is to sharpen all my tools at the end of a project. This gets everything ready for the next project. Sharpening a bunch of tools at once is faster than picking up a tool, deciding it is dull, and then getting the sharpening equipment out.
Good luck and feel free to contact me with questions.