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The Slippery Slope #3: Scary Sharp - My way.

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Blog entry by Douglas Bordner posted 11-23-2007 08:50 PM 5381 reads 2 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The arrival, and so much more. Part 3 of The Slippery Slope series Part 4: Introducing Sarge. »

I have ordered a Hock replacement iron for my rehab plane. A slight change in course has occurred, in that once the rust came off and I was able to determine the actual model of my rust bucket, it has become apparent that it is a Sargent 409, the equivalent of a Stanley #4, not a #4 1/2. The Sargent does have a slightly wider and longer casting than the equivalent Stanley, so in it should be a heavier plane, but it does have a 2˝ iron, not 2 3/8˝. Oh well, I still can’t quibble with the $7 dollar price tag.

While waiting for the new iron to arrive, I decided to sharpen up the stock iron, using the scary sharp method, utilizing a flat reference surface and sandpaper. In order to keep a consistent angle for sharpening, I bought a Veritas sharpening guide and angle setter. This is the older incarnation of the MK II guide, still very functional, and well worth the investment. I doubt that I will attempt to stay current in the “Tool Arms Race” with this product until I wear this unit out.

I (long ago) purchased a piece of auto safety glass. The exact size escapes me at the moment, and indeed it’s not crucial. If I were doing it again I would likely get a tool grade slab of granite for this purpose, and use the capillary action of water to hold the paper in place. Much easier to clean than dowsing the whole thing in acetone and scraping off the spray adhesive used to hold the paper in place. The paper does last a while, so this relatively unpleasant cleaning experience doesn’t occur that often, and the whole thing is ready to pull out from beneath my bench when needed.

I started out defining a 25° bevel setting the length of iron extended beyond the guide with the Veritas angle setting fixture. Once that is done and a check is made to see that the blade is at 90° to the guide, we are ready to rumble. I had some 80 grit ready-to-wrap strips from my Performax 10-20 and some freebie 180 grit rolls from a 16-32 that I was given. There are at least two applications from each of these rolls. Other folks use PSA rolls, which are easier to mount to the glass than using spray adhesive, but the spray mount works okay for me.

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Here is the coarse grinding side of the rig.

I ground the desired angle with the 80 grit, until a constant 25° bevel was established. You know you are done when a wire edge is felt across the backside of the bevel. Who ever butchered this iron originally did a magnificent job of boogering it up, setting a concave edge, rather than the desired very slightly convex edge.

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I ground and ground and ground some more until I could feel the wire edge across the whole backside of the bevel.
Then I switched to the 180 grit paper. Once a consistent scratch pattern was noted, I flipped over the glass and began to refine the bevel.

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Then it was a simple matter of working through the grits, beginning at 400 and working my way through the grits to P3000. A brief sidebar is in order at this point to explain why the “P” is used to describe the paper’s grit grading.
There are two standards for abrasive paper. The American system is the CAMI grading standard. CAMI stands for Coated Abrasives Manufacturers’ Institute. The P designation is from the European standard, developed by the Federation of European Producers of Abrasives (FEPA). Above 220 grit there is a wider desparity between the two systems, with the FEPA standard being coarser than CAMI paper. The consistency of the FEPA standard is tighter than CAMI grit paper, and in truth it doesn’t matter that much here. I just can’t find CAMI graded paper locally above 600 grit, and my local supplier stocks Klingspor paper, which uses the FEPA “P” standard. The P2000 and P3000 grit paper is from Japan, and was purchased at a premium from a local Auto-body supplier.

I worked the bevel all the way through the P3000 grit until a mirror sheen was established. Then it was time to flatten the back of the iron. The same genius that worked the bevel side of the iron had his way with the back as well. The iron was actually dished, rather than flat, so considerable grinding was needed to get a flat back surface.

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After flattening the back, I polished the back of the iron all the way through the grits.
The Veritas guide as an adjustment that allows the sharpener to establish a micro-bevel at up to 3° by turning a knob on the side of the guide. This is desirable, so that re-sharpening is easier. I set the micro bevel adjustment. Now for a new wrinkle. The newer Veritas sharpening guide has an optional camber wheel available that allows one to put a slightly convex bevel on the iron (Robin Lee and his crew of geniuses, at it again). The reason for this cambered edge is so that there is no digging in of the iron at the side of the cut when attempting to smooth plane the workpiece. There is no upgrade available for my older sharpening set, so I decided to put a piece of clear wrapping tape in the center of the roller on the bottom of the sharpening guide.

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This allowed me to put a bit more pressure on each side of the iron as I worked (again) through the finer grits. Here is the result.

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We will have to see if there is a discernible difference once the iron meets the workpiece. To test the sharpening, I was able to shave hair from the back of my arm with the newly sharpened iron. Photos omitted to spare the faint-hearted. Once the iron has the requisite 25° bevel, the adept galoot can alter the micro-bevel to a steeper angle, and tighten the throat by adjusting the frog. This helps in smoothing wood with difficult, reversing grain etc.
I will likely do this with the Hock iron so that I have my old Stanley #4 set for regular grain, and the new heavier Sargent at the ready for use with my beloved figured woods. And I still have Tom Angle’s gift smoother ready for work. Now I just have to practice my skills, and transform myself from ham-fisted amateur to experienced Galoot.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.



24 comments so far

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2755 days


#1 posted 11-23-2007 09:06 PM

I wasn’t aware that there were differing stages of being a galoot. It seems that your passion would grant you full galoot status. As a lover of hand tools, but with no desire to resurrect the relics that excite so many, I’m not sure I can join the club. Club Neanderthal? Maybe. Club galoot…not so much. Nice blog, Douglas! As always…

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2740 days


#2 posted 11-23-2007 09:21 PM

Very decent blog old Boy!
I think once you maste the scary sharp system you have a good chance of sharpening all your sjop tools.
There are very practicle lessons learned with this excellent technique.
Great explanation as usual Doug and the pics and illustrations are right on the topics.

Cheers
Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3966 posts in 2783 days


#3 posted 11-23-2007 09:26 PM

galoot |gəˈloōt| noun informal a clumsy or oafish person (often as a term of abuse). ORIGIN early 19th cent.(originally in nautical use meaning [an experienced marine] ): of unknown origin.

Neanderthal |nēˈandərθôl| noun (also Neanderthal man) an extinct species of human that was widely distributed in ice-age Europe between c. 120,000–35,000 years ago, with a receding forehead and prominent brow ridges. The Neanderthals were associated with the Mousterian flint industry of the Middle Paleolithic. • Homo neanderthalensis; now usually regarded as a separate species from H. sapiens and probably at the end of a different evolutionary line. • figurative an uncivilized, unintelligent, or uncouth person, esp. a man : the stereotype of the mechanic as a macho Neanderthal.

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Galoot Third-Class Bordner ready for service, Sir!
Whatever the etiology of the words hand-tool enthusiasts use to describe themselves, I likely could gouge out a hunk from my workpiece with a LN or Veritas plane. I’m just determined to figure this thing out. And as previously stated I’m by necessity frugal to the point of being Cheap! Thomas Angle has forbidden me from buying that wonderful 164 1/2 BUS from Lee Valley until I can play nice with the toys I have. The propane is on in the garage. I’ll have to get knee deep in shavings until I can pull the Rob Cosman tricks I want to achieve.

Thanks for the kind words, Mot, and Bob#2. I should have my rust bucket ready to show today. After getting on the Xmas gift work today…

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

13167 posts in 2702 days


#4 posted 11-23-2007 10:14 PM

Great blog ! Bet you could market your plate on Ebay. I know I would buy one ! Call it the “Scary Sharp” and refer to it as patent pending ! You could probably sell hundreds of them !!

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2755 days


#5 posted 11-23-2007 10:33 PM

I prefer the left-recursive acronym, Gregarious Association of Lovers Of Old Tools.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3966 posts in 2783 days


#6 posted 11-24-2007 12:09 AM

Well, that’s where it comes from! Thanks Mot!

And I see Dan Walters has stayed in genius mode and shape-shifted from Asimov to that seriously misunderstood but immensely talented and lamentably deceased Frank Zappa. From the Mothers of Invention to the finest jazz and symphonic music, he too was one of my favorites.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View mrtrim's profile

mrtrim

1696 posts in 2599 days


#7 posted 11-24-2007 12:54 AM

nice blog doug, i think that it caused dan walters to change avetars ( i think he has multiple personality disorder ! ) and i read somthing a little while ago that hes got his hands on some surgical scalples ! now thats scary ! hehe

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4438 posts in 2681 days


#8 posted 11-24-2007 02:27 AM

You guys have been having way too much fun while I was working my butt off in the shop!!! Douglas, this is a very good blog on the “Scary Sharp” system. Interesting about the camber wheel. I just round the corners more like Garrett Hack. I’ve just never gotten that good at freehanding that curve. However, I never shave any hair off my arm; I didn’t get the damn thing to shave with, it’s supposed to cut wood! Now, Son-shine, let’s see some shavings of the wood variety. LOL

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View David's profile

David

1970 posts in 2858 days


#9 posted 11-24-2007 04:38 AM

Douglas -

Great blog and a wonderful story to share!

It has been hard to keep up with all of Dan’s various personalities . . . I mean avatars!

Looking forward to some photos of fine shavings coming out of your plane!

David

-- http://foldingrule.blogspot.com

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3966 posts in 2783 days


#10 posted 11-24-2007 04:59 AM

I posted the unveiling a minute ago, but here is a shot of the plane’s work.

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-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dorje's profile

Dorje

1763 posts in 2716 days


#11 posted 11-24-2007 05:57 AM

The master of finishes is at it again! I would consider this a finishing job – sanding to p3000! We’re gonna have to start talking in micron-ese…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

13167 posts in 2702 days


#12 posted 11-24-2007 06:45 AM

I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am !!!

ride em’ cowboy !!!

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3966 posts in 2783 days


#13 posted 11-24-2007 06:54 AM

Dorje,
At best I’m a compulsive sander, no master finisher. But to quote Eeyore
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Thanks for noticing me. ;^D

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View cajunpen's profile

cajunpen

14412 posts in 2785 days


#14 posted 11-24-2007 10:27 AM

That’s some high brow talk for a bunch of Lumber Jocks. Enjoyed the blog Douglas – well done.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/

View Sawdust2's profile

Sawdust2

1467 posts in 2807 days


#15 posted 11-24-2007 01:53 PM

Thanks for the lesson in grit grade. I thought it “just happened” when the Republicans took over, or when the Democrats took over or the EU got organizaed.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

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