I've recently come into some old hand planes that belonged to my grandfather and one probably from his father. When well polished (I use whetstones, up to 8000) they are impressively efficient, even in this day of power tools. They also don't make dust and are quiet, two advantages when working with an infant under your jacket. The rocking motion also puts him to sleep.
That's not what this post is about though, as there's lots of info out there about plane sharpening and use.
I'm in the process of building a guitar and need to shape the nut. Usually this involves lots of sanding, a painfully slow process I avoid whenever I can. Instead I set the plane on my lap and started taking nice fine shavings off the side, leaving a perfect finish. The nut is made from cow bone and doesn't seem to wear the edge.
the only problem is...
------------------Warning: After the break, there be blood-------------------
The stupid little piece is had to hold and as it gets smaller, your finger gets closer to that razor sharp blade. I know they make a special vice to hold nuts, but I'm only doing one. Fingers will heal.