Sharpening: Looking close with a USB microscope. #3: Water cooled grind stone (tormek), and Touch-Up of the edge

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Blog entry by mafe posted 01-16-2012 02:48 PM 14127 reads 1 time favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: _Water stone, compound and newspaper_ Part 3 of Sharpening: Looking close with a USB microscope. series no next part

Looking close at sharpening with USB microscope
Water cooled grind stone (Tormek), and Touch-Up of the edge

So here we go again; I have a water cooled grinder and must admit I was happy with this method until I tried the Japanese water stones, the water cooled grind stone system produce a really sharp edge that are sufficient and nothing less for wood working, but compared to the Japanese water stones I feel there are quite a way to go, and so it is time to look closer at the edges.

Also I will end this blog by showing the result of touch-up on newspaper and on a strop with VERITAS green compound.

First the back is flattened by using the side of the grind stone this gives a fairly flat back but leaves quite a rough surface.

Then the back gets a tour on the leather wheel and I try to polish it up as much as possible.

This is how it looks, not what we will accept after water stones, but though the grind marks flat and shiny.

This is the result in the microscope, quite fair I think.

Then it’s time to set up the grinder for the right angle.

Before grinding I use the wheel dresser to set it rough to begin with.
(Using the rough side of the dressing stone).
This makes it faster to make the first grinding.

And grind away until I have the right angle and meet the back flat.!

This is how it looks after the rough grind.

Then I use the wheel dresser to set it to fine.
(Using the fine side of the dressing stone).
This makes finer surface and so a sharper edge.

And a spin until it is smooth.

This is how it looks after the fine grind.
I’m not really impressed with the difference.

And finally the leather wheel to polish up a fine surface and a sharp edge.
(You need to make a turn to remove the burr).

In the microscope after the leather wheel.
I’m not deeply impressed… But it does produce a really fine edge for wood working.

I will try to improve the edge after the water grinder system by using green compound on a strap and newspaper flat on a glass plate.

Here after the VERITAS green compound.
This clearly improves the result, so that is a way to go.

And then I continue to newspaper so it is touched up by both.
I think it actually gives a little extra on the polish, so the only question is if it rounds the edge a wee bit, and if it is worth the effort, but perhaps for some really fine paring tasks I could say it was worth it.

Finally I make the test where I sharpen with the water grinder system and make the final touch-up on an 8000 grid water stone.
This gives clearly a superb result, and I start to wonder if all my other water stones are actually waste of money!
Perhaps the most effective way to sharpen to razor sharp in the work shop is by starting with the water grinder, then leather wheel and finish up the micro bevel on an 8000 stone, it sure makes me re-think my previous conclusions.


Here the edge of a chisel after some light use in pine.

Ten passes on a newspaper and it looks like this.

And like this after few strokes on green compound.

I am not sure what to conclude, the newspaper seems to be a little finer, but will probably also hone less, where the green seem to be more rough and so will also sharpen a little more…

Personally I think I will stay on the green for touch-up by the bench, and then use the newspaper when in the field where I have no strop.

The blog will go on, I plan on oil stones and sandpaper also.

My blogs on sharpening:
Sharpening station blogs:

Hope this blog can make some more curious, and stop some of the guessing around,

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

39 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#1 posted 01-16-2012 03:07 PM

very informative blog Mads. I’m followin along..thnx

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2757 days

#2 posted 01-16-2012 03:24 PM

Again, thanks for putting all the effort into helping us understand a bit more about keeping our hand tools at peak performance.

BTW, is that a Bahco chisel you are using? If so where did you get them and are they still available?

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2651 days

#3 posted 01-16-2012 04:07 PM

Thank you for this. I found it quite interesting.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#4 posted 01-16-2012 04:11 PM

This is certainly interesting Mads. Really useful info for those looking to get the best edge possible. I especially like your mixed media approach. This hasn’t been done with tests conducted by FWW mag. or others. I think you can call it ‘Mad’s Hybrid Sharpening System’, a whole new approach. Keep up the good work!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7590 posts in 2796 days

#5 posted 01-16-2012 04:30 PM

I would like to see you test out different buffing compounds so we can see the difference between the different colors like Black, brown, white and red.

Thanks for posting!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The greatest woodworking show since the invention of wood is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3055 days

#6 posted 01-16-2012 05:05 PM


Try stropping on just a plain flat piece of hardwood if you are concerned about rounding the edge. Simply rub a little (emphasize less is more) of the green compound on a fine grained piece of hardwood such as maple and the pull the chisel across it. It will still round the edge slightly, but less than the leather strop will.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3287 days

#7 posted 01-16-2012 07:20 PM

Stumpy, why don’t you use this as a jumping-off point, get one of these microscopes, and show us the results from your Worksharp/MDF rig?

Mads, thanks for doing this. I think you said it perfectly with your last sentence.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3242 days

#8 posted 01-16-2012 09:01 PM

Thanks Mads for doing this, it just keeps getting more interesting each entry. I also like the mixed media, no sponsor results. When magazines or sites that are sponsored or get free samples do reviews, I wonder how objective the results really are.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View ShaneA's profile


6928 posts in 2594 days

#9 posted 01-16-2012 09:07 PM

Thanks for the post. Very interesting. Cool pictures too.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2983 days

#10 posted 01-16-2012 09:39 PM

Thanks for the info.
Really enjoying this series.


-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Sodabowski's profile


2374 posts in 2829 days

#11 posted 01-16-2012 10:27 PM

I won’t do the green compound, the shot after the newspaper honing shows enough evidence to me that you have found the best way to go!

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3783 days

#12 posted 01-16-2012 11:09 PM

Big thanks for doing this. All good info. It really brings up other questions to answer, and I think is just a starting point of a body of information.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#13 posted 01-16-2012 11:53 PM

thank´s Mads :-)


View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3457 days

#14 posted 01-17-2012 02:38 AM

You’re the fanatic Mads. I truly appreciate that you take the time to analyze this and go to all the trouble to post your findings. thanks this is very interesting.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2663 days

#15 posted 01-17-2012 04:18 AM

This is great info and I have to change my way of sharpening I think ,but having always used a oil stone and grinding wheel it’s hard to change .
I have used a diamond lap for some time now but mainly on carbide tools . Thanks for this and I will be watching for further findings .


-- Kiefer

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