I’ve noticed some Blogs and questions about sharpening chisels and I thought I give you my experiences and what I’ve designed.
I’m getting ready to teach a sharpening workshop for the Mason-Dixon Woodworkers club and I was working on my setup and techniques.
I own the Tormek Sharpening System , the Makita Sharpening System . I’ve used The Scary Sharp System and I build a modified Scary Sharp setup using cast iron plates and silicon carbide granules on the coarser grits and diamond paste on the finer grits. I’ve used 3M diamond discs and 3M polishing disks that are used in the Optical Fiber industry to polish the glass fibers prior to joining together.
They all work. Some are faster than others, but nothing that I’ve tried gets it as sharp as the one that I’ve devised.
I won’t say that I invented it, or that I improved upon it. Because, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Here is a picture of my sharpening station
It’s made up of a 3/4hp 3400 RPM electric motor from an old washing machine and it has an Aluminum shaft extension from Beall Tool It has a 5/8” mounting hole and a 3/8”X16 threads in the other end. If you purchase this tool throw away his reducer to ½” and get a brass reducer. (I had to use emory paper to get it to fit, placed it on the motor and sanded away until it fit.) The electric box has a switch that turns on the motor and one of the plugs so that if I want to use a light it will come on when the motor comes on. The other plug is hot all of the time.
The disks are 6” ¾” MDF that I cut with a hole saw, I then drilled out the center hole using a forsner bit to allow the bolt head and washer to be below the surface. I then drilled a 3/8” hole through and used an appropriate bolt and washers and tightened it all up. These disks then screw on to the end of the Beall Tool Extension and align straight against the shoulder of the extension. I then used sandpaper to true up the edge of the wheel because it will vibrate at first. It is possible to use two or three disks to make it thicker if you wanted to sharpen turning chisels on the edge of the wheel. You could also form the wheel with sandpaper to conform to the shape you want.
I use mainly the side of the wheel. I’ve made up wheels with different grits
I use polishing compound that I bought from Grizzly I purchased an assortment of grits Course (Black) Medium (Tripoli) and the two green ones (Polishing).
I first tried to use the spinning disk to apply the polish and it went all over the workbench. So I now keep the disk stopped and rub it with the polishing compound like using an eraser on paper.
I will true up the irons on a sharpening stone with the Pinnacle honing guide to get the correct bevel on the iron and then I’ll use my setup to get the finished edge.
I Polish the back
Maybe only an 1/8” of an inch. It really only needs to be a few thousands back from the actual edge. I’ll use a sharpie to color the metal to insure that I’m holding it correctly on the wheel. (Note: use your sandpaper to smooth the edge of the wheel so you don’t have a sharp edge to polish a gouge in the back of the chisel. If you touch the chisel on the corner of the spinning disk first you get a bright mark very fast.
When I hold for the cutting edge. I always (at least always try) to put the shoulder of the cutting edge to the wheel first and then change the angle where I’m sharpening the cutting edge
NOTE: Safety note make sure that the MDF disk is spinning away from you. You don’t want the chisel to cut into the wheel and go flying at you or around the shop. I have mine spinning away on the top of the wheel. This is different from a grinding wheel that cuts toward you.
It’s a matter of front to back a few times and then to a different grit. I have the machine off and I hold the mandrel with my hand and final polish the chisel against the wheel. You could also setup a final touch up pad on your workbench with the extra fine polishing compound to re-hone the chisel or plane while you are using it.
I’ve been able to get consistently 1.5 Thousands shavings full width and full length on walnut and pine.
(I’ve not tried other species yet) I’ve also not tried Graham Blackburn’s method of sitting the plane on the board and letting it cut full width and full length by sliding down the inclined board.
I do use the Tormek and the Veritas jigs to get the correct bevel on the chisels and plane irons prior to final sharpening. I have nicks and cuts all over my hand from trying sharp chisels. BE CAREFUL. I have since sold the Tormek to another LJ so all of the original bevels are done with a Verata Honing Guide and a Diamond Plate.
You could also mount the wheels on a grinder but it would not be as fast to change the wheels as it is with the Beal Tool Extension. Lee Jesberger uses something similiar on his Shopsmith lathe.
Copyright 2-11-2007 Karson Morrison
-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware firstname.lastname@example.org †