A Sharp Edge

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Blog entry by Philip Edwards posted 02-18-2007 10:21 PM 888 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi Folks
Well there goes another weekend! I’ve not achieved much in the workshop though I have been busy elsewhere. A busy day Saturday replacing some fencing for a friend left me tired and today was spent at Marwell Zoo with the family. So needless to say workshop time has been minimal!
I did spend some time sharpening a few planes. When I’m too tired to do something constructive (without messing it up!!!!) I go for the old fall-back, sharpening.
It never fails to amaze me the difference a freshly sharpened iron makes. Effortless planing, a tear-out free polished surface and a smile on my face. And it really takes so little time. You just have to DO IT ;)
Incidently, I’ve tried cheating a bit recently. Yes, the “quick hone-up”......
Instead of going through the grits (for me 800, 4000, 10,000) I just try the fine stone or a rub on the strop. It kinda works but doesn’t. All you get is an edge that cuts nicely on 90% of its length but has nicks and chips on the remainder. So whats the point? Quite…..
I have a theory that you need to go back to a coarse stone when honing due to the edge becoming “work hardened”. This makes it brittle. So if you try to touch it up a few times instead of grinding back to fresh metal you get an edge like I described earlier. Chippy.
I counted out the strokes I take whilst sharpening (as some people feel my prefered method of sharpening, waterstones, is messy and time consuming) Take out coarse stone from water container, rub on flattening plate. 30 seconds. Set iron in jig (Veritas MK2). 30 seconds. Twelve strokes on the 800 stones. Wipe with rag, twelve strokes on the 4000 stones, wipe with rag, twelve strokes on the 10,000 stone. Remove from jig, wipe with oily rag, replace in plane.
Less than three minutes to hone a plane iron to a razor edge (tested on any remaining hand/arm hair I can find!) And sharp enough to leave a perfect, flawless surface that is ready for finishing.
Well worth keeping those tools sharp!

4 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4206 days

#1 posted 02-18-2007 11:29 PM

Thanks, for this, Phil.

I can relate to your process because mine is identical. I perhaps wait a little too long before I re-sharpen.

It’s strange, I agree there is nothing more satisfying than using a freshly sharpened iron. But I must confess the thing that motivates me to re-sharpen is not the thought of using the sharpened iron, but the frustration of using one that has become dull. And the problem is, waiting until the plane is noticeably dull means it take longer to go through the steps of sharpening. When will I learn?

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4356 days

#2 posted 02-18-2007 11:50 PM

I try to remember the quote my turning teacher said. “Time spent sharpening is never wasted.”

I also wait to long, and then wonder why I did.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4266 days

#3 posted 02-19-2007 12:03 AM

Must be a “Man Thing”... to wait til your tools are noticably dull, and then to even think that you’ll try a cheaper, faster, less productive way to sharpen only to remind yourself later of the sin of cheating the stone… I must confess, I was getting less than perfect results with 600 grit. It would take hair off the arm, but I felt like I was manipulating the hair off instead of shaving it…

The Lumberjocks Oath:
On my honor I will do my best to make tools sharper, make the wood nicer, and do my duty according to the craft of which I am an active member so that when “Ordinary People” see the wood I’ve worked they have no choice but to say “Wow!”

... or something like that

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4339 days

#4 posted 02-19-2007 02:38 AM

10,000 grit? Man, I thought I was doing something going to 600 grit. With the Scarey Sharp sytem, it doesn’t take but a few passes and it’s sharp, again. Remember: a dull tool is more likely to cause an accident than an sharp one.

-- Jesus is Lord!

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