Reply by lwllms

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Posted on How do you hone in between sharpening sessions?

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555 posts in 3246 days

#1 posted 11-16-2012 03:02 AM


Let’s do this in two posts. First sharpening. Like everything else in hand tool woodworking it’s best to start with traditional trade practice. The tools and the techniques to use and sharpen them evolved together over centuries. Trade practice was such that the average person could have success if they understood the process and sequence.

Most plane irons are ground at 25º and honed at about 30º. This leaves the bevel with two distinct surfaces. Maintain a small honed bevel by grinding every few sharpenings. I like to keep the honed bevel from around 1/32” to 3/32” it only takes a couple passes over a well dressed stone to remove the wear from the edge on the bevel and raise a wire edge. The main thing is keeping the flat faces of your tools flat and your sharpening stones flat. The more precise you are with this the easier and faster sharpening is. This is because the critical work in honing is done on the flat face. Both surfaces that make up the edge suffer dulling wear in use. If you keep your tool’s flat face flat and your stones flat you can remove the wear quickly from the flat face with the coarsest stone necessary to make it quick work and subsequent finer stone(s) will uniformly remove the abrasive signatures or scratches of the previous stone.

It should take less than a minute to hone a tool.

This is the way it’s been done until all the honing guides and other gimmicks came along to complicate things and slow the process down.

Joseph Moxon alluded to this method when describing sharpening in 1680. Here’s Peter Nicholson’s 1845 description of the same process:

And it continued this way for a long time. Here’s the same thing described on the back of a Stanley block plane iron package from the 1970’s:

The evolved method is easy and very fast. You do need to grind and you need to dress your stones very frequently to keep them uniformly flat. Dressing my oil stones only takes a few seconds at each use or when ever the abrasives get dull and the cutting action slows.

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