When I started working with bladed tools (chisels/planes/etc) I wanted a sharpening system that was on the cheap, small and storable and versatile. I chose to start with the scary sharp, and used sand papers from 100grit (rough shaping and cleaning nicked blades) to 2500 for final honing and green compound for touch ups. I added the Veritas MK-II honing guide and was using it for reshaping/resestting blades and honing them through the grits.
While this method worked for the time I wanted something that was faster, and I wanted a system that would allow me to free myself from jigs and go freehand. Everything that I read suggested that hollow grinding was the way to accomplish that. A coincidence find on CL of a sheppach slow wet grinder some research to learn more about it and it’s acceptance among users and I followed along with a new setup. Since it’s a slow grinder I am not sure there is much benefit time wise as compared to scary-sharp or stones (difference between the later 2 is mostly the material of choice), but there is definitely an improvement in effort when running a batch of blades through it, and setup time is faster as well. The real benefit though is that it is creating a hollow grind on the bevel which when you then place the bevel on a flat surface simulates 2 feet (back of bevel, and front edge) that the bevel rests on which makes it easier to register the angle of the bevel on honing media and makes it more stable to run it across it for periodical honing and touch ups without the need to go back to the grinder AND you can do that freehand without much fuss.
I know some people like to touch up blades on extra fine stones (8000+) after using the wet sharpener, but I personally find that using the buffing wheel with the buffing paste leaves the best surface and mirror shine I could ever achieve – more so than using 12,000 sand paper on granite or green compound paste on MDF. I would like to try the diamond paste some suppliers offer at some point mostly for curiosity since my edges are as sharp as I could ask them to be.
I never had any issues with the scary sharp method and was getting good results with it, but I find that with the wet grinder I can get better results with less effort and then have a green compound block of MDF at the workbench I could touch them up with from time to time so it works very well for me.
The final setup (see picture):
1. Granite slab with sand papers and a set of diamond stones for lapping soles and backs of blades flat from rough to mirror finish
2. Variable Speed double grinder- to take off ALOT of material FAST. I use this mainly for 2 reasons. mainly for metal toolings, but also to dress up broken.chipped blades that would otherwise take forever on the wet grinder and also eat up too much of the wet grinder softer wheel
3. wet slow grinder for dressing up the bevels on cutting tools and honing/buffing them to a mirror finish (final)
I have it in the basement as this way I can work on it late nights as it has low noise levels, is warmer than the garage, and easier access to water and cleaning up afterwards, but this could just as well be done in the shop, as most of this can also be stored away and pulled out when needed (I mostly only do this when I get a new tool, or after a while when I need to reestablish an edge. not so much constant use)
Maybe this can give some folks ideas, or simplify the “sharpening scare” some might have. Bottom line and as many have said before me and many will say after – there are many methods to get sharp tools, and all are good. it all boils down to what works for each one. choose one, choose many and see which works best for you and stick to it.
Thanks for reading,
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.