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Sharping System, Which One?

by doninvegas
posted 12-25-2010 02:41 AM

26 replies so far

View bluchz's profile


187 posts in 3401 days

#1 posted 12-25-2010 02:51 AM

Worksharp 3000 from the home depot today it’s on sale for cheap!

-- flash=250,100][/flash]

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#2 posted 12-25-2010 02:54 AM

The Worksharp 3000 is on sale some places for $150. You can’t beat that price, and it is a pretty foolproof system. I’ll second the recommendation.

-- David from Indiana --

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3850 days

#3 posted 12-25-2010 11:25 AM

Don, here is another vote for the Worksharp 3000. I struggled to find a way to keep my chisels and plane irons sharp and never could get the edge that I wanted until buying the Worksharp.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3513 days

#4 posted 12-25-2010 01:15 PM

I love power tools as much as anyone, but sharpening my chisels and plane blades is something I prefer to do by hand. I have been using the scary sharp system for years, and you just can’t beat the results…and the satisfaction of doing it by hand.
1/4” plate glass, PSA backed sandpaper in grits from 80 to 2000 (or regular sandpaper and spray adhesive), and a Lee Valley/Veritas jig. I have the older jig, not the MK2.
I bought a delta sharpening system, maybe 15 years ago, and it’s in my shop somewhere…covered in dust.

-- Steve--

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2942 days

#5 posted 12-25-2010 05:15 PM

I skipped the 1/4” plate glass and bought a $4.50 granite tile from HD for my “base plate.” I use 320 and 600 grit wet sandpaper (w/WD40) and a honing guide. to set the angle. Capilary action holds the paper in place. I then move to a Hard Arkansas oil stone (the black side) with the honing guide still in place.

I have less than $50 invested and all of my chisels and plane blades can be used for shaving. FWIW, you can spend several hundreds of $$$ on all kinds of alternatives if you have the excess money to burn, but you won’t get any sharper. Those who tell you otherwise WON”T tell you that as soon as you touch your newly sharpened blade to your latest project that that latest “super-duper scare your butt-cheeks off sharpening” that you just completed, will dull right back to a rather equitable “sharpness level” obtainable with nearly all other sharpening techniques. The steel will tell you just how sharp your blade/chisel will remain, NOT your sharpening technique. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#6 posted 12-25-2010 05:40 PM

I’ve had a WorkSharp 3000 for several years but I use it very seldom. I prefer the scary sharp method also. My sandpaper goes to 2000 grit and I finish with a 6000 grit Japanese wet stone. I also use a honing guide.

It does not take very long to get a super sharp chisel or iron this way and the process is quite satisfying, even enjoyable.

I only use the WorkSharp when I want to change a bevel angle (which is quite seldom) now. It used to be my primary sharpening method, but I believe I get better results with my scary sharp method.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#7 posted 12-25-2010 05:44 PM

I use the worksharp3000 for most fine tuned edges and a sandng belt ( 120-150 ) for coarse grinds as on gouges and the like.

p.s. Where do you shop of tools in Vegas?

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2935 days

#8 posted 12-25-2010 06:16 PM

Bob. There is only one woodworking store in Vegas. They’re pretty good but limited in selection. They’re also a Rockler affiliate. There is a Woodcraft store up in Reno but I’m not going to drive 8 hours to check it out. Otherwise I buy tools either at the box store or the internet. In Nevada we have a”use” tax. Meaning, that if you buy anything on the internet you are responsible for paying NV sales tax on the total amount including shipping. The state really can’t enforce it but it’s something I have to think about being a business. I have already been audited one and I got burned pretty good.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#9 posted 12-25-2010 06:26 PM

worksharp 3000 works great .In affect the worksharp is the scary sharp method with a motor. I would just order one from amazon.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SouthpawCA's profile


270 posts in 3261 days

#10 posted 12-25-2010 07:04 PM

I use the manual method which consists of sandpaper and stones. It only takes a few seconds to get that “scary sharp” edge back again. Here is a video from Woodsmith that explains it. You will have to sign up for the weekly emails, but why not – it’s free and there are some good tips.

-- Don

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3298 days

#11 posted 12-25-2010 07:20 PM

Save the money. If you only have a few items to sharpen…use a ceramic or diamond stone and a leather strop. I’ve done this for years and I have a lot of items I have to sharpen. A ceramic or diamond stone holds it’s shape and will laste a long time….I have made small wood triangles that I use to get the feel of the tool at the right angle on the stone …I use a course stone on a dull tool….but mostly I use a fine stone to refresh the edge….then a few strops….walla…a very sharp and useful tool.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View rickf16's profile


392 posts in 3609 days

#12 posted 12-25-2010 07:46 PM

Ditto on the 3000. I dry shaved my arm with a 1” chisel, nuff said. Merry Christmas!!!

-- Rick

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3076 days

#13 posted 12-25-2010 09:32 PM

I’m embarrassed to say I bought into the Tormek brainwashing regime and ended up with a Jet wet sharpening system, since it was almost half the price of the Tormek. Still, I spent over $400 on all that stuff. After using it for awhile, I returned to the Scary Sharp /Veritas honing guide for chisels and plane irons, and am trying to decide what to do with the Jet. For curved lathe tools and carving tools (gouges), though, the Wolverine system with a regular grinder is the way to go. That Worksharp and Lee Valley’s power sharpener look good, too.
Incidentally, Don, the Woodcraft in Reno is history. The former owner opened another store in Reno, but must have had a falling out with Woodcraft.

-- Gene T

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2980 days

#14 posted 12-26-2010 12:21 AM

After taking a class taught by Chris Schwarz, my choice of using waterstones with honing guides was proven to be a wise choice. Chris sharpens his tools with waterstones and he showed some tricks to sharpens blades that I do not know how one could do the same with a Tormek or Worksharp, etc. Specifically, honing cambers on plane blades or even sharpening a router plane blade. Waterstones work great for me. Just make sure you have a good method to keep the stones true, that is important.

-- Mike

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#15 posted 12-26-2010 12:30 AM

Just to add a little to the discussion, the “buy in” decision can be influenced greatly by your budget. If you don’t care to spend much in the short term, you can get a good Eclipse style jig for ~$15 and a bunch of fine grit wet/dry sandpaper for under ~$20. You can slap the sandpaper on your tablesaw with a little spray adhesive and be up and running for pretty cheap. Upgrading the “scary sharp” system with a couple of flat pieces of float glass greatly improves convenience, and will add a few more bucks depending on where you can get it, but you are still in for cheap.

A1Jim is indeed correct that the Worksharp3000 relies on sandpaper, and can be considered “scary sharp with a motor,” but I use mine quite differently than I ever used sandpaper. The included angle jig saves me a ton of time, and I still have the option of going free hand on the surface of the platter, though this took a good bit of trial and error to get right. Also, the speed of the system allows more frequent sharpening, and the availability of the extra glass platters allows an almost limitless range of abrasives to be used with the system. Case in point, I don’t really like the micromesh pads, so I use the 3M PSA abrasives I used to use with my “scary sharp” system. I REALLY like the finish from the 0.3/0.5 micron 3M abrasives!

The benefit of the WS3K over the scarysharp system, IMHO, is that it effectively eliminates the need for a slow speed grinder. If you already have one, then obviously this doesn’t apply, but I have burned more edges than I care to recall with my cheap 3400 rpm grinder and cheap grey wheel. If you get a slow speed grinder, an accurate tool rest, and a Norton 3X wheel, you can almost spend as much as the a WS3K! If you don’t any sort of a grinder, the coarse grits of the WS3K can do the bulk of you grinding needs pretty well. I have an 80/120 grit plate I use when there are edges in REALLY bad shape, but I almost never have to use this one.

If you are planning on re-grinding edges by hand, this certainly is an option, but I assure you that you will get tired of this quite quickly. I have a few coarse diamond stones that I use for flattening backs of tools, and they work GREAT for grinding edges! The problem is that each one will cost ~$50, and you will still have a lot of work to do polishing out those deep scratches with finer grit sandpaper.

Overall, the WS3K represents a pretty good cost benefit ratio in my book, especially having used a few different systems to sharpen.

Now, if you really think you want to sharpen by hand, I would recommend a slow speed grinder with an 80 grit Norton 3X wheel, a Veritas tool rest (Lee Valley sells those two items in a set), and a 1000, 4000 and 8000 Shapton water stone. I recommend the Shapton stones since they don’t require soaking, and just need a spray of water on their surface to work properly. They also have been heralded as being about as good of a synthetic water stone as you can get, and though I have not tried a bunch of water stones, they certainly have a great reputation amongst those who have. A cheaper alternative that also has a great reputation is the Norton line of water stones. If you are going this way because of budget, you can get a 220/1000 and a 4000/8000 combination stone that will take care of almost all of your sharpening needs and will still be cheaper than the Shapton stones.

I would also recommend either an Eclipse style jig (I actually own two of these and love them!!) or a Veritas honing guide (this is really nice if you have skew chisels or other blades you want to sharpen at an angle). I almost forgot—you need a diamond plate to flatten your water stones. My back-of-the-envelope math brings this to ~$450.

Granted, the Shapton stones are very nice, and leave a fantastic edge, but I actually prefer the edge I get from my 3M abrasives to any other sharpening method I have used (and I have NOT used the Chosera stones, so I may well be missing out on something, but I don’t feel like dropping $250 to find out)

The one thing I would recommend REGARDLESS of the system you end up going with is to stick with it for a while before you decide if you like it or not! The WORST thing you can do is to switch back and forth between systems before you really learn how to use the one you have! Be sure you figure out the best way to get a sharp edge with the system you buy into and USE IT for a while before you even think of getting something else! Otherwise I can tell you that you will end up buying a bunch of gizmos that will sit on your shelf and will get absolutely no use since you never spent the time to make them work properly in the first place.

One last “accessory” that I would recommend regardless of what you do buy is Ron Hock’s book The Perfect Edge which is the best tool sharpening reference book I have read to date (there are a couple of others that are also good, but I like Ron’s book the best). If you have the time, I would actually read this book BEFORE buying any other sharpening widgets since he describes each systems benefits and shortcomings much better than we can ever do here!

Good luck, and happy holidays!

-- David from Indiana --

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#16 posted 12-26-2010 12:38 AM

paratrooper34, I can actually get a pretty nice camber on the top of my WS3K, but it takes a little technique and a “custom” tool rest. I may have to write that up some day to share, but I am sure that anyone used to sharpening cambers by hand can figure it out pretty easily.

I really do respect what Schwartz has to say about hand tools, but I really hate the mess that water stones create. I make worse messes in the shop all of the time (MDF dust?), but the water stones really bug me for some reason. Plus, I don’t have a sink in the shop, so that may well add to the frustration.

Still, I absolutely appreciate the fact that water stones cut VERY fast and leave a great edge, so I would never discourage anyone from using them. Just be sure to wipe tools down well to avoid rust!!

-- David from Indiana --

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2935 days

#17 posted 12-26-2010 01:34 AM

WOW, I didn’t think I would get this mush response from my question. All of your answers have been both very helpful and confusing at the same time. I will check out the different systems. It really doesn’t matter if it’s automated or manual. I bought the honing guide and stone from Eagle America and it’s OK but I know there is a better way I only have some bench chisels and 4 plans so I don’t think spending $250 for the Worksharp would be worth the money at this time. However, as I get more and more into hand tools this might be the way to go. I don’t have the space to set up a dedicated sharping station so something I could whip out and sharpen when needed would be a plus.
Thanks all, but now I’m more undecided than ever. Keep the comments coming.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2980 days

#18 posted 12-26-2010 01:42 AM

dfdye, hey, no kidding…I would definitely be interested in hearing how you do that. I thought about going with a WorkSharp awhile ago, but figured I could not put cambers on with it. As for the mess, I have a dedicated sharpening station away from the bench and work area. It keeps it all contained, no problem.

-- Mike

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#19 posted 12-26-2010 02:29 AM


If you want cheap, run with sandpaper! It works great, and leaves an edge you can be proud of!

Here is the simple, cut-to-the-chase solution: You need 120, 400, 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper. I prefer aluminum oxide or zirconium oxide, but silicon carbide works just fine. You should be able to get the 120 and 400 aluminum oxide at a hardware store (the common 3M Sandblaster paper is aluminum oxide, and has a pretty good quality control, so I would recommend that amongst the common hardware store brands). They may also have an eclipse style jig (I posted a link earlier in case you can’t find one), and you should pick that up too. You will probably have to go to an auto parts store to get the 1000 and 2000 grit paper, and it will probably be a black, silicon carbide paper. This will work fine, but if you can find aluminum oxide or zirconium oxide, it typically holds up a little better. Sometimes these only come in 1/3 sheets, which is perfect since you will probably want to cut them later.

I use 1/3 sheets for sharpening to save space, but others use full sheets—it’s your call, and you can always change your mind pretty cheaply. Now, if you have some extra plate glass lying around, go ahead and use it for a flat surface to mount the sand paper on, but if you don’t, I have used MDF with no apologies other than having trouble changing the paper out when it gets used up. Around here, Menards sells laminated countertop cutoffs in their shelving department, and I would highly recommend those since they are relatively flat and very durable.

To mount the sand paper, use some spray adhesive on the back of the sandpaper and “roll” it down on whatever backer board you are using (or glass plate, if you have it), taking care to minimize air bubbles.

Put whatever you are sharpening in the eclipse jig, and start with the 120 paper to establish your primary bevel across the entire face of the blade (If you have questions as to what that angle should be, feel free to ask! ). This will suck. No questions. Sorry. Then, I would polish out the 120 grit scratches with the 400 grit paper. At this point, I would flatten the backs of your blades through 1000 grit paper. Then, put a micro-bevel on your blades at whatever you want the actual cutting angle to be starting with 400 grit paper. Don’t make this bevel too wide or it will be a PITA to sharpen the next time around. Make sure you are raising a wire on the edge of the blade, and take that micro-bevel through the 2000 grit paper. Then, you can chase the wire edge by lapping the back on the 2000 grit paper.

If you have any technique questions, like I said before, Hock’s book is excellent, but feel free to ask around here. Unfortunately, you will get a bunch of people who have their pet way of sharpening and don’t recognize any other way, especially for those on a budget. I have been through a bunch of different methods, and all of them work! The reason I ended up where I did with sharpening was speed and convenience of the WS3K, but the results I have gotten from almost every decent method I have tried have been perfectly acceptable.

Sandpaper is fantastic and cheap, and definitely sounds like the solution you are looking for at this point in time!

-- David from Indiana --

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#20 posted 12-26-2010 02:45 AM

Paratrooper, the quick and dirty of the camber is that I use a clamping jig on top of the stock tool rest bar that allows me to rock the blade back and forth enough to get a camber. Then I slip the blade an extra few millimeters into the jig for a micro-bevel on the final grits, and all is well.

I can’t claim credit for the jig, though. I got the idea from this Popular Woodworking video. The jig I have is a little different to fit the WS, but it is the same basic idea. It is disgustingly quick and easily repeatable as long as you don’t try and change the camber diameter. I would just make a different jig if I needed to sharpen, say, a scrub plane.

The trick to using it is not to let the blade sit still. That is the “technique” part. Otherwise you will get a little bit of a flat spot. This is still pretty easy! I just press down on one edge of the jig, let the blade make contact with the platter, and “swoop” the blade across the surface of the WS, lifting up at the end. Then I do it backwards, and keep going until I get where I want it. Overall, it works quite well. I do try and work on the side of the platter that is traveling away from me so that the blade won’t be pushed up the tool rest. That’s about it!

-- David from Indiana --

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2864 days

#21 posted 12-26-2010 11:43 AM

Work sharp 3000 at HD now AVAILABLE for back order

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2951 days

#22 posted 12-26-2010 04:39 PM

WS3000, can’t beat it.

-- Life is good.

View ChuckM's profile


608 posts in 3694 days

#23 posted 12-26-2010 07:16 PM

My two cents:

First decide your budget, then whether you want to go manual or power.

Veritas MKII honing jig from Lee Valley has been consistently found the best for accuracy and quality by woodworking magazines. There’s no argument on that choice if you’re to go manual.

On the power side, you have to decide if you want to use the grinder or a stand alone sharpening system. Others have already pointed out many options and I’ll just add that if you have $400 and want to go power, check out my yesterday’s post: . This dry sharpening system can handle chisels, plane blades/irons and gouges.

$400 sounds scary but if you divide $400 by 20 (that’s the remaining woodworking life I forecast for myself; use your own figure), it’s just $20 a year plus consumables (sanding discs) of $5 or so per year – that’s $2 a month! Waterstones are expensive, can’t last 5 years or 10; messy to use; AND too cold to use in my shop (minus 5 and below during most of the winter time). The good thing about the Veritas MKII power system is everything is mechanical and you don’t need to rely on much hand skill nor previous sharpening experience to get the preditcable, repeatable and accurate sharpness (primary and micro bevels) you want. I sit down to do my sharpening. If you’re young, you may not find this a benefit, of course. Finally, the service, the return policy, and the quality back up we enjoy from LV are beyond comparison – if you return something defective, they even pay you the return shipping cost you incur! When Fine Woodworking recommended this system, I knew one couldn’t be wrong with this choice – provided one is willing or able to dish out a bigger amount upfront.

Bottomline: If someone offered to sharpen my irons and chisels for a cup of coffee, I wouldn’t turn him or her down, would I?

P.S. I used to sharpen my chisels and blades with the Veritas MKI honing jig and was trying to decide if I should go for the MKII honing jig or the MKII power system.

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2950 days

#24 posted 12-26-2010 07:36 PM

Folks, the reference to the HD sale is something very special – if they don’t cancel the backorders.

The WS3000 is 62 bucks plus shipping and tax! $62!! List is $250, the Amazon price is $189, and HD is selling it for $62.

If you ever wanted one, this is too good to pass up, assuming they don’t back out of the offer.

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3208 days

#25 posted 12-26-2010 08:06 PM

I’m looking forward to my $75 delivered WS3000!

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3065 days

#26 posted 12-26-2010 09:16 PM

I already own a WS3K, but I was about 3 seconds from buying another one at this price! This really is an amazing deal. Even if you are thinking about starting out using sandpaper, your initial investment will be about half of this. Seriously! If anyone is even THINKING of one of these, get in on the offer RIGHT NOW!!!! The worst thing they can do is back out and say it was a typo, but you aren’t out the cash.

I hate to direct link it, but I just verified that Home Depot is indeed offering this deal . The internet part number is 100592902 just in case you can’t find it by searching their web page.

Doninvegas, you will absolutely kick yourself if you pass on this, I promise you! I fully understand that you don’t have many tools to sharpen, but this may be the ONLY sharpening system you will ever have to buy. I don’t know a single other woodworker that has ever settled with their first system, so you have a unique opportunity here to set a new record! :) Good luck, and I seriously hope you can muster $75 for this!

-- David from Indiana --

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