Reply by paratrooper34

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Posted on honing using sand paper

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915 posts in 3073 days

#1 posted 11-19-2011 03:44 PM

When I first started getting into hand tools and learning how to sharpen them, I used sandpaper. It wasn’t very long thereafter that I realized staying with that system was going to be very costly.

A set of japanese waterstones (800, 1000, 4000, and 8000) and a coarse/extra coarse diamond stone (to keep your stones flat and for some coarse work on edges) comes to $285.50 on particular website. You can do A LOT of sharpening with that set right there. You could leave out the 4000 stone and save $56.00. You could also get by with just a combination stone from Norton which has 1000 on one side and 8000 on the other which is very cost effective. But lets stick with the $285.50 above for arguments sake.

The cost of that package over a 20 year life span is $14.28 per year. An average home woodworker can reasonably expect a 20 year life out their waterstones. So the initial cost looks steep. But in the long run, the cost is very affordable. I did not use sandpaper for a long time, but I do know a package (one that includes a variety of grits) wears out quick. I see packages of sandpaper average about $6.99 to $9.99 for a package containing 8 – 10 sheets. I am sure there must be sources out there to purchase sandpaper in bulk to save some money, not sure what it would be. If three or four packs of sandpaper per year are necessary to meet sharpening needs, this adds up quickly. Assuming four packages, the cost per year would be $27.96 – $39.96. Over the course of twenty years, those numbers are $559.20 – $799.20. That is a lot of money.

I would like to know from the serious sandpaper sharpeners how much you spend annually on sandpaper. I think it would be interesting to compare your actual usage as I am doing a little spitballing here. To see some real numbers would be interesting for the people who are having a hard time determining which method is right for them. Cost is certainly a big factor for some people (it sure is for me).

I want to make one other point. I have read some comments from some remarking how they felt waterstone sharpening is messy. I am here to let you know that is just not so. When I first started with them, I guess I could say it was a little messy. However, after nailing a system with them and figuring out how to use them, they are not messy. I have a dedicated sharpening station that is mounted to the wall. Below that, I have a covered plastic container that I keep the stones in (always in water). Beside that container, I have a five gallon bucket that I use to rinse off the stones after I use them and clean my flattening plate (I flatten the stones after every use). The sharpening station has a rubber mat which catches any water that drips off and it is all very neat. And if anything spills or whatnot, it is water. Water is soooo easy to clean up. It also has no smell. So for all of you who think it is a messy system, I say with proper management, it is not messy.

-- Mike

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