Good Morning, my name is David Craig and I am a former sharpaphobiac transformed into a sharpaholic…
The art of sharpening has been very intimidating to me and it has really caused a bit of a road block to my work. No matter how many power tools you have in your collection, woodworking will ultimately lead you to a point where a chisel is in your hand and it needs to be sharp. I fiddled around with the grinder some, have purchased sharpening stones at the store, but I was really out of my element. And, instead of facing my fears, I just put the whole lot in the corner to gather dust and pretended I could go without.
Obviously that course of action hasn’t worked well for me.
Last week, I ordered the Work Sharp 3000 and a set of Narex bench chisels and mortising chisels. There are a number of tools in my shop that have brought me great joy, but the use of this one has taken me to a level of almost complete rapture. I can’t express the delight I felt when, after a couple years of disgust with my lack of ability to put a shine on a bevel, I was able to flatten and hone chisels after about 15 minutes of direction reading and equipment setup. I have spent a couple days familiarizing myself with the chisels and the sharpening process and probably have learned more in a few hours than I have in a few years. From the pic below, you can tell that I have been a little busy….
Wood Magazine’s March issue has a great article on chisels, the varying types, uses, and the recommended bevels. This came in handy as the Narex mortising chisels are bevel at 25 degrees in the factory. A mortise chisel should be bevel at 35-45 degrees from what I read. So one of the first items I had to take care of was to regrind the bevel on the two chisels I ordered. This would have killed me a few weeks ago, but it was a pretty easy task with the Work Sharp. There are already some excellent reviews of this in the LJ review section, so I will just highlight the things I learned so far.
1. The machine does have a limit of thickness of the chisels you can put in the sharpening slot. But, mortise chisels slide in fine if you use the left side, instead of the right side of the port.
2. You are not limited in the use of adhesive backed paper and you do not have to use the proprietary sandpaper that comes with the machine. I purchased a sanding attachment for my drill a year or so ago that required 6 inch adhesive backed paper. I was never happy with the attachment so it has been mostly unused. I have low and high grit paper that works fine for this machine. Just requires popping a hole in the center and a little trim work around the edges. When regrinding, the low grits with the machine are a little too fine but was able to do quite well with the 100 grit I had on hand.
3. I have head complaints that only a portion of the paper is used when sharpening. This is true if you use the slots but, when flattening or sharpening freehand, you have access to the whole sheet. I think I have only wasted one partial sanding disk so far. The rest have been sufficiently used up before tossing.
4. Some purists might look at the machine as one that hinders the ability to familiarize yourself with the sharpening process and become “too dependent” and limit your skill set. I am discovering that, in my case, it is quite the opposite. I have actually found that my confidence with freehand on the machine and grinder has increased as I now am familiar with what a good bevel and flat chisel is supposed to look like. I am quite confident that I would produce similar results if I had a good guide and had to use the hand sharpening “scary sharp” method. I have an old Pexto chisel that was a complete rusty mess. The rust created some small holes on the inside of the edge. I took it to the grinder and worked off the holes and have the edge almost completely restored.
The tip will flatten out but I love the reflective surface of this, once rusted, 60 year old chisel.
I know this was a long post but, hey, I am ecstatic and there aren’t too many people in my circle who would understand why a shiny chisel would bring me this much joy.
Happy woodworking all,
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.