Jatoba is the hardest and heaviest wood we offer. This is only available on the block planes. For the bench planes, Mesquite is very hard and wears incredibly well. Hard maple, though, also wears very well. However, wear on the sole is not really an issue with any of the woods we offer. Most wood lost on the sole of any wood plane comes from too aggressive or faulty re-flattening.
A plane sharpening jig is included with each plane, so the only thing needed is the sharpening media. This can be as simple as sandpaper ( the scary sharp method ) or you may choose to use either oilstones or waterstones. Since the blade is so thin, honing on sandpaper is all that is necessary to regrind the primary bevel. However, if desired, this grinding can easily be done on a disc or belt grinder.
No. The thin blade is held between a massive frog and a 5/32″ back up iron. This assembly sits solidly against the wood bed of the plane. I have never experienced any chatter with this plane.
UHMW plastic is extremely resistant to abrasion. It can be scratched with the coarser stones, but it isn’t abraded away. The stones are working on the steel of the blade, so they are not resting on the UHMW surface where the pressure is at the cutting edge.
Yes, we are happy to try to accommodate our customer’s wishes. We do custom woods, handles of various kinds of wood, Stanley-type front knobs, special-size planes, etc.