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My current sharpening setup

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Blog entry by bobasaurus posted 06-04-2017 06:19 AM 628 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been using hand tools for long enough that I’ve tried a number of different sharpening systems. My sharpening equipment has included oil stones, diamond stones, waterstones, sandpaper, strops, paper wheels, diamond lapping films and more. I thought I’d share the system I’ve settled on. I know there are thousands of sharpening posts and nobody will fully agree, but I’m pretty happy with this one.

For years I was a freehand sharpener, but frustration with holding blades straight and avoiding bevels creeping steeper and steeper has led me back to using a honing guide. I’m currently using the “Veritas Sharpening System”, which is the basic honing guide from Lee Valley (not the Mk II). The clamping jig works really great, but the angle setting jig it comes with is garbage (too awkward to use and you can’t see what you’re doing). So I made a block of wood with rabbets on the ends to set blade projection distances for desired bevel angles. It is really repeatable and quick to use.

Here is my pared-down set of sharpening equipment:

On the granite surface block (from Woodcraft) there is a piece of PSA-backed 120 grit sandpaper and 15 micron diamond lapping film from Lee Valley.

On the rubber mat there is a Shapton Pro #15000 waterstone, the honing guide, my angle setup block, and a thin steel ruler for the occasional plane that needs the ruler trick.

For lubrication I use water mixed with Honerite Gold (for corrosion resistance) and a drop of dish soap (to reduce suction on the stones when lapping).

My typical sharpening process is as follows:

  • Flatten the 15k waterstone on the 120 grit sandpaper. I used to use a Trend diamond stone for this, but my stone was dished and made my waterstone face convex. I might buy an Atoma stone in the future, but the PSA sandpaper works really well for now.
  • Set the blade in the honing guide. My blades are ground to a 25 deg primary bevel. I use a 30 deg secondary bevel (set on the guide with the projection block) for most of my planes, and use the honing guide’s mechanism to increase this by about 1 or 2 deg for the tertiary bevel. For end grain cutting, I keep the final angle closer to 25 deg.
  • Use the 15 micron diamond lapping film to hone the secondary bevel. The film is aggressive and repeatable, giving me really flat nice bevels in seconds.
  • Use the 15k waterstone to hone the tertiary bevel (rotating the knob on the honing guide to increase by about 1 or 2 deg)
  • A few strokes with the back of the blade on the 15k stone to remove any slight burr remaining. A few older planes require using the ruler trick instead.

Pretty simple with a minimal set of grits/stones. Takes less than a minute overall.

Here is a shaving I took right after sharpening using a post-war Stanley No. 3 with an IBC replacement blade/breaker. Not the greatest plane, but I took this shaving on walnut going the wrong direction against the grain:

Less than 1/1000” thick and it left a perfect surface on the walnut without tearout or chatter, despite planing the wrong direction. I also tried this on a Type 13 No. 3 with the original sweetheart blade (using the ruler trick) and it gave identical results. The chipbreakers were set very close to the edge on both planes.

I do have the full range of Shapton stones for initial lapping of blade backs, but this is my setup and process for the bulk of my day-to-day sharpening. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone. If anyone has comments or suggestions, let me know.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)



5 comments so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8129 posts in 1297 days


#1 posted 06-04-2017 02:03 PM

When you find out what makes you happy stick with :)

What do you use to flattened the tools you’ve made? Initially.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Woodenwizard's profile

Woodenwizard

1311 posts in 2854 days


#2 posted 06-04-2017 04:38 PM

Thanks for the information. I am just now getting into the hand tools and need all the help I can get in the sharpening department.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View bobasaurus's profile

bobasaurus

3337 posts in 2995 days


#3 posted 06-07-2017 04:18 AM



When you find out what makes you happy stick with :)

What do you use to flattened the tools you ve made? Initially.

- TheFridge

I have a 2×72 belt grinder now that I use with a 36 grit ceramic belt for most of my coarse grinding. I haven’t made many flat surfaced tools yet, just the chisel and I lapped it the same way I do any new chisel after I rough ground it on the belt grinder.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View bobasaurus's profile

bobasaurus

3337 posts in 2995 days


#4 posted 06-07-2017 04:19 AM



Thanks for the information. I am just now getting into the hand tools and need all the help I can get in the sharpening department.

- Woodenwizard

Thanks John. Hand tools are a joy to use.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4458 posts in 949 days


#5 posted 06-08-2017 11:10 AM

Great minds think alike Allen.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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