so just like every other woodworker at one point (what’s up with the other every other woodworkers is beyond me…) I was researching and learning about ways to sharpen my chisels, planes, and other blade tools in the shop.
Since I am the weekend warrior at this point, and I do not need to resharpen my tools THAT often, nor THAT much, I figure that I can do without any expensive powertools (there are several of those on the market) to sharpen blades and I dont really have the space to store those either way. This still leaves me with several other options.
I figured I’d start with the Scary sharp method as it is the cheapest to get into, and in the future, if I end up collecting waterstones one at a time, maybe I’ll go that route, but from my present (very good) experience with the scary sharp method- I may just stick with it, as the abrasive doesn’t really get worn off as quickly as I thought it would making this a very long lasting, and very cost effective method for me to use.
To all who don’t know what the Scary Sharp method is: The idea is to stick sand papers of different grits on a piece of glass that is true and flat and run your blades over it, moving from lower grits that form the bevel, to finer grits that remove the scratches from the lower grits, to the finest grits that polish the beveled blade to a razor sharp mirror finish. This method really merely uses sand paper which is readily available almost anywhere (finest grits are available at either automotive parts stores, or woodcraft stores, or online)
What I picked up in a recent post on Fine Woodworking really helped me a lot in making this procedure easier to run, and much faster to render. the idea was to have only 1 sheet of sand paper glued to the glass, and to have the finer grits just placed on top of that glued sandpaper, resulting in the abrasive from the glued sandpaper preventing the other sand papers from moving about because of it’s friction as shown in this picture:
This makes it easier as you do not need to glue every sand paper directly to the glass, and have different plates of glass for each sand paper, or having to remove and reattach sand papers to the glass plate. you simply have 1 sheet stuck to the glass, and the rest are easily put on when needed, and put away when not.
What I have done is stuck a whole sheet of 100grit paper to the glass plate and I use that to roughly set the bevel on the blade. Every few strokes I flip the blade, and lap the back of it to make it flat and remove the burr that is formed at the edge of the blade. Once I have a uniformed scratched bevel, I put a narrow piece of 230grit paper on top of the 100grit, and the abrasive keeps it from moving as I use that to remove the scratches off of the bevel that were made from the 100grit paper. Once again, every few strokes, I flip the blade, and lap the back to clean it, and remove the burr at it’s edge. Once the bevel is uniformly smoother, I repeat the same process with a 400grit paper, after that I take it to a 600grit paper. at that point the bevel is faitly smooth and clean, but not mirror shine YET.
Next I use 1000grit paper (got it from Woodcraft as noone else carries these finer grits … not even Rockler to my surprise!) I spray a few drops of WD40 on the edge of the 1000grit paper and let the bevel run over that (but not the honing guide itself!). Again – flip blade, and lap the back. and move to the last 2000grit. At this point the blade still is lightly oiled, just enough to lubricate it, but not too much as to mess up the work area. I run the last few (20) strokes on the 2000grit paper, flip the blade, lap the back, and clean the blade with a cloth.
At this point the bevel edge is razor sharp – slices through hair, and as a mirror shine.
If you wanted- you could go with higher grit abrasives (sand paper, water stones, etc.) but for me, for the time being – this is more then enough:
This procedure is only necessary to go through once to set the bevel on the blades, but after it is set and done, and you lose the edge on that blade, you can run a quicker procedure with only running through the 2000 grit paper which takes a few seconds. and if needed use a lower grit to clean anything that cannot be cleared with the highest grit.
D I S C L A I M E R :
Good points have been raised as comments, and I’m glad people took the time to respond to this blog. Some suggested the use of different materials such as granite for the backing, and baby oil for the displacement of metal dust. some suggested higher quality abrasives, and these are all good points and should be considered if you are researching this subject. other good resources for sharpening and honing have been mentioned in the comments, and also some good articles are available at Fine Woodworking, and Popular Woodworking.
What I have been writing here is about my own experience using materials, and objects that I had at hand and readily available at home. This procedure as mentioned above has proved to provide me with results that are far better then I had expected and I wanted to share that with anyone that might benefit from that. This procedure is extremely fast for me to go through when needed, and requires minimal preparation and storage space – all of which suit me very well. If this technique worked so well for me – it might work that well for you too (and then again … maybe it won’t… :o) )
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.