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Who uses sandpaper on glass?

by Josh
posted 05-21-2010 06:00 PM

32 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3574 days

#1 posted 05-21-2010 06:06 PM

Hey Josh
I used what’s called the scary sharp method for a long time without a honing guide you just have to keep looking at your chisel or plane blade to see that your not taking more off one side or the other. It’s a matter of holding it at the original angle

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#2 posted 05-21-2010 06:06 PM

you can make a guide out of wood cut at a 25 degree angle

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Josh's profile


103 posts in 3019 days

#3 posted 05-21-2010 06:11 PM

I’ve seen a lot of people reference ‘scary sharp’ as their sharpening method but I didn’t know that method used sandpaper.

PurpLev, when you make a guide out of wood for sharpening, does the length matter at all?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View rep's profile


95 posts in 3107 days

#4 posted 05-21-2010 06:15 PM

The Work Sharp WS3000 Sharpener is a motorized version of sandpaper on glass sharpening.

-- rick

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#5 posted 05-21-2010 06:16 PM

you can see a good one here:

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3478 days

#6 posted 05-21-2010 06:19 PM

I’ve sharpened chisels and plane irons for years without any guide for honing. If you’re the type of woodworker who puts a micro bevel on their tools, then a guide will almost certanly be needed. Having the correct grind on your tool is the first key step. Once that’s achieved then all you need to do is rest the bevel on your abrasive surface (stone or sandpaper) and use moderate pressure near the edge to keep the tool flat and draw the tool back, and before you know it your tool is sharp. If the grind is right, and with some practice you can have a chisel or plane iron ready to cut in a few minutes.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Josh's profile


103 posts in 3019 days

#7 posted 05-21-2010 06:20 PM

Dumb question but I’m gonna ask it just to make sure, is there anything I need to do differently when sharpening a plane iron vs a chisel?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#8 posted 05-21-2010 06:26 PM


when I started out, I only had sandpapers to create the bevel, sharpen it and hone it. so I was solely relying on the Veritas MKII honing guide for the entire process of creating the 25 degree bevel, then hone it. since I was sharpening on sandpaper, it meant that I had a straight grind, and it was easy for me to lose the proper angle on the bevel – the honing guide helped A LOT.

ever since I got a slow grinder (or any grinder for that matter) I am now forming a hollow ground bevel which makes it very easy to continue honing the bevel without a need of a guide, and can be done freehand. I have not used my honing guide ever since.

EDIT: and no – there is no difference between sharpening a chisel or a plane iron – except for the angle (depending on the application you are setting your plane for)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Josh's profile


103 posts in 3019 days

#9 posted 05-21-2010 06:36 PM

PurpLev, thanks for the link to the honing jig, I’ll have to see if that is something I can work on making for my shop

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#10 posted 05-21-2010 07:29 PM

No glass here. I have a chunk of salvaged granite that I use. I got my guide from Peachtree a the Woodworking Show pretty cheap. Couldn’t do it without a honing guide for sure! It’s not the best guide, but it works, and is reliable..

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2955 days

#11 posted 05-21-2010 07:39 PM

Sand paper is alot cheaper than stones or grinders, and has been around so long that people have certainly gotten good at using it for sharpening. It works “fine”. But this is one of those things that requires definition; what is “sharp”, and how sharp is “sharp”. If you do chisels on sandpaper you can get a well working tool. If you sharpen one with a stone you will end up with a much sharper tool. You can get them hideously sharp with diamond plate type (I forget their real name, sorry) sharpeners. And if you are going to try to get them that sharp a guide would just make sense. At a sharpening seminar I went to they were making plane and chisel faces so smooth they were like chrome finishes. It was truly scary how sharp they were. I think it just matters as to how much you ask of your tool. Generally speaking, most people want their tools as sharp as they can get them; and as they develop the means of getting them sharper they are happier about it. I guess if I had the need to I would find a way to get me a fancier means of sharpening, but for now it’s off to the hardware store for more sandpaper.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2995 days

#12 posted 05-21-2010 08:28 PM

I mix the way I sharpen:

If I am going to do a total rehab on a chisel or plane iron, I get out the sandpaper. It starts a lot coarser and gets me where I want to go more quickly. Lots of room for big strokes.

If I am reshaping an blade, I get out the diamond stones. A cheap 4 sided one with 200, 400, 600, 800 grit. Quick, easy, and pretty consistent.

If I am just refreshing an edge, I pull out a water stone and just hit a strop a few times when I am taking a break.

They all work. It is more a matter of choice. You just need something harder than the steel and mechanical action. If you had the time, you could get anything just as sharp with some rouge and a strop.

Freehand is ok but you waste a lot of time grinding away metal that is not part of the edge you want to make. Practice a lot and you can get pretty consistent but I would rather spend my limited time cutting stuff instead of sharpening stuff. I recently picked up one of the 8” wet grinders to speed up the process but I have not used it enough to really have a solid opinion of it yet. Not a big fan of hollow grind blades but I also am not a big fan of sharpening for hours either.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3582 days

#13 posted 05-21-2010 08:47 PM

This is ok for light honing not for reshapening or serious sharpening though. Where a tool shape might be altered slightly,not new at all this is an ancient method of honing used also by engineers and by scientists with glass which is about as flat an object as you can get cheaply and different abrasive powders mixed with water for sharpening scalpel like tools for microscopy.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

160 posts in 3057 days

#14 posted 05-22-2010 12:38 AM

I use the sandpaper method, but I don’t use glass. I went down to Lowe’s they sell granite squares (12×12) that are flat….and cheap…$4. Then mount the sandpaper and jig and go at it.

-- Les, Missouri,

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2952 days

#15 posted 05-22-2010 12:56 AM

I learned pretty early on how to do it without a honing guide.

The trick that I learned is to hold the chisel/iron rigidly in your right hand on the bevel, and then use your left hand in a sawing type of motion to push the chisel/iron back and forth on the stone (or sandpaper). Again, your right hand is simply holding the iron/chisel on the bevel, and the left hand pushes it across the medium. Note, that by doing it this way, motion is along the cutting edge of the iron/chisel, and you are much less likely to rock on the bevel (and therefore screw it up).

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3462 days

#16 posted 05-22-2010 01:20 AM

i use the scary sharp method, combined with using 1.0um and 0.3um alumina on MDF as a flat strop. I use this honing guide. Before that guide i used a wooden jig at 25ΒΊ. The guide is “ok” – fine for planes, but it takes a bit of fiddling for chisels. unfortunately it doesnt work for spokeshaves, so I go back to the old wooden jig for those. .

You have to be careful with the small wheel on that guide to grind a square edge on the wide plane blades – but i’ve recently found that this flexibility of movement also allows be to grind a nice camber on blades… so once you’re aware and careful it’s actually very flexible.

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3088 days

#17 posted 05-22-2010 01:23 AM

I find the sand paper method (aka scary sharp) quick, cheap and easy. I was surprised how sharp I could actually get my chisels and irons the first time I used it. I don’t have any experience with stones, so I can’t compare the differences. I’m not sure I need a stone because I am more than satisfied using sandpaper.

Josh – I think my guide from Rockler cost under $15.

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3047 days

#18 posted 05-22-2010 06:43 AM

glad you asked that question as I was wondering the same thing! :)

-- Theresa,

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3062 days

#19 posted 05-22-2010 12:47 PM

I have been doing it for years. Works great. I usually just lay the sand paper on my table saw, or sometimes my bench top which is extremely flat for a bench. I don’t use the spray adhesive, and it works fine. Been doing it for about 10 years now, and have been amazed by the results. I have also gotten several friends started on this method, and they have been pleased as well.

-- PaulMayer,

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2981 days

#20 posted 05-23-2010 04:33 PM

I use the same honing guide as Aaron. As I can’t seem to hold the angle right myself.
Thanks PurpLev for the link, I’ll have to make one for my wider blades.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2958 days

#21 posted 05-24-2010 01:46 AM

To all: Thanks for all the info!

View russv's profile


262 posts in 3166 days

#22 posted 05-24-2010 05:37 AM

i use sandpaper on mdf with spray adhesive. i use from 80 grit to 1200 wet/dry (7 different grits). the surface is mirrored when i am done. i use a honing guide on my narrow chisels (smaller than 1/2”) but can feel the bevel on my wider chisels and planer blades. mike dunbar has a great video on sanpaper sharpening that really helped me get started using sandpaper. i like not using oil or water. not near the mess or cleanup.


-- where to go because you don't want no stinking plastic!

View Rick's profile


9596 posts in 3030 days

#23 posted 05-24-2010 06:50 AM

Sorry: One of these days I’m gonna figure out how to Post Pics the Proper way.

Anyway. I gave this Jig to a Friend 6 Months ago and somhow it got “Broken??”. Now I make another one I guess.

These Pics came out of my “Jig File”. They are self-explanatory.

I made my original one all from Oak for strength. With a Larger and Better Clamp. I Sharpened Chisels and Small Plane Blades on the Table Saw Bed. Usually used 500 to 1000 wet/dry paper. Wet at the finish. Yes at a 25 Degree Angle.

If there was Knick or something similar on the Blade, I also have a Power Wet Wheel that does a very good job on it’s own, but this jig cleans it up nicely. Hope you can see the Pics okay.


GOOD GRIEF Charlie Brown! Just did “Preview” and they are actually there!

Sharpener B

Sharpener A

-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3462 days

#24 posted 05-24-2010 02:12 PM

Rick – thats the same jig i used until I bought the honing guide…. which i now prefer. I took apart that jig and now use one of the “legs” for my spokeshave blades. the wood rides on the sandpaper, but it ends up wearing down at close enough to the same angle so it doesnt matter.

View juanabee's profile


109 posts in 3006 days

#25 posted 05-26-2010 10:19 PM

I saw the same Woodsmith Shop video and tried it myself. Only I didn’t use glass, just MDF. I spray-adhered squares of four different grits to the MDF, then worked my chisel from course to fine. I didn’t use a honing guide, just my fingers to hold the bevel angle. I ground very slowly, and was careful to keep the bevel angle consistent.

My result was a chisel that was sharp enough to do everything I needed to do. I was even somewhat “proud” of the smooth straight, and very sharp edge I achieved. Some purists will roll their eyes at this, and would want to show you their razor sharp chisels and all you can accomplish with them. But for a weekend hobbiest, mine worked well for what I needed to do.

I still have and use my cheapo sharpener. I expect in the not too distant future I will upgrade, though. Maybe when I invest in some high-quality chisels.

-- "Life's nonsense pierces us with strange relation." Wallace Stevens

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3462 days

#26 posted 05-26-2010 10:32 PM

I question how flat your substrate has to be. there, i said it! after all, you’re going to be passing a fairly wide surface over sandpaper which is then on top of something else. I dont know. I think MDF would work fine. You just want to make sure that that itself is on something solid so that it cant deflect. I would also check how flat it is on a regular basis.

View rhybeka's profile


3980 posts in 3119 days

#27 posted 05-28-2010 09:55 PM

Since this is something I’m also looking at doing to get a plane blade back into condition so I can shave off some endgrain plywood, I’ve been looking at the sharpening set from Rockler that includes the honing jig. Not sure if it can be built for cheaper just by buying all the parts separately…the big box stores don’t sell honing guides, do they?

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3784 days

#28 posted 05-29-2010 04:52 AM

The Olympic style guide shown in the Rockler kit is usually available for about $15 by itself. The Veritas Mark II is much better but runs around $50. The Olympic guide works, but do not put too much pressure on it (like when trying to get metal off for a primary bevel) or the iron will pop out of the guide.

However, a carriage bolt with 2 washers and 2 wing nuts also works for plane blades for holding an angle (bolt head goes down, put on wing nut and washer, put on plane iron with bolt through the slot, another washer and wing nut, and just adjust and tighten when you get the right angle). The head is the base, and allows you to rotate the blade if you want a camber. Altho I have the mark II, I still use this method for my scrub plane irons. The disadvantage is when trying to get a square flat edge for a jointer iron, etc.

The advantage of a honing guide with gauge like the Mark II is that you can write on your iron with a sharpie what the primary bevel and secondary bevel are, and then just toss it in and come back to the same exact angle. It give you repeatable results quickly. You can do the same with shop made guides and a depth gauge plate made for the different angles.

The caveat is that a good guide has to be exact (The angle can be a bit off, but it must be square to the sharpening plate). That is more difficult in practice than the DIY articles lead you to believe. The jig shown above is not easy to make well. Both supports must be the same angle and length, and the guide block must be square. BTDT.

Not saying it can’t be done, but sometimes (if your time has value), it may be more economical to buy a well made item.



-- Go

View SteveMI's profile


1094 posts in 3292 days

#29 posted 05-29-2010 07:08 PM

I second the great post to Josh.

A lot of good information shared and I now feel ready to refresh my hand planes.


View CampD's profile (online now)


1666 posts in 3483 days

#30 posted 05-29-2010 07:48 PM

I use the sandpaper method and a piece a granite 16×24 (I’ve done a lot of kitchen remodels and installed granite countertops. If there is a granite shop around you they have tons of cut outs and small pieces, sure they would be glad to get rid of a small piece) The granite is perfectly flat and holds wet sandpaper fast. First off I always buy wet/dry sandpaper for all my projects, little more expensive buts last much longer. If I’m just tunning-up my allaround chisels, i first use 150 then finish with 220 and maybe 400. Now if I’m doing my prized chissels I’ll continue to up to 600, I even have 1000 and 1200 grit sandaper (avalible at automovitive paint supply shops an online catalog you want to talk about a mirror finish. Used the 1000 grit to buff-out Nitrocellulose lacquer.

You hand tools are an extension of your hand and what better way to get up close and personal with them then to spend the time to sharpen them, you’ll truly aprecate them more afterwards ;)

-- Doug...

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2968 days

#31 posted 04-24-2013 12:07 AM

My dad, if he was alive today would be 105 years old. He was a hardwood floor finisher, trim carpenter by trade. I can remember watching him use sandpaper to sharpen his chisels back in the 1950s so the method is nothing new.
Naturally, that’s the method I use. The fruit don’t fall far from the tree ;^)

View LoydMoore's profile


105 posts in 1954 days

#32 posted 04-24-2013 01:06 AM

I went by the local granite counter top shop. The guy pointed tobig pile of scrap and said take what you want. Picked up several chunks that were aroundthat were around 3” x 3’. I only use paper for damaged edges but the granite is nice.

Best thing about the granite pieces is that they are great for gluing up super flat surfaces when jig making. Just clamp 2/3/4 sections of baltic birch or MDF between two pieces of granite and the results are excellent.

They also make a great red neck veneer press.

The big con – there is no place in the shop that the dang things are not in the way when not in use.

-- Loyd, San Angelo, TX

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