I think most of us would agree that we would like to spend as little time as possible sharpening and honing our edge tools, but we do realize the need for really sharp edges to get nice clean cuts and also to maintain control of the cuts. An experienced woodworker is therefore almost always willing to do whatever it takes to get the edges he needs.
My philosophy on sharpening is focused on speed, convenience and frequent easy edge refreshment (not beer Larry). The best way I’ve found to do this is with diamond sharpening stone (mines DMT) with two grits; 600 and 1280, (if I’m seeing those small numbers on the stone clearly) one grit on each side The 600 grit is red code and the 1280 is green (unless I’m colorblind).
Here is a photo of my stone and honing accessories which are a water spray bottle which lubricates the stone while honing and a paper towel to clean off and dry the stone whenever I want.
The purpose of this blog
I mainly want to introduce a relatively inexpense but effective honing method for those of you who want a decent edge without using an expensive machine which takes shop space or using honing guides which take a little extra time to set up. Also I want to make folks aware that unlike water stones, the diamond stone stays flat and only maintenance is to wipe it with paper towel when you’re finished to keep it clean and dry.
Most of us know that you will probably get the very best edge from water stones, finishing up with an 8000 grit. Some machines might be equal to that or close. Those of you who have a good sharping/honing machine or water stones or any other method and who are totally satisfied with them probably won’t be interested in this blog.
What results are adequate for me.
My test for sharpness is that it will shave the hair off my arm and/or take a nice shaving off the end grain end of a piece of pine. I feel that I should be able to reach this level in about 2 minutes with a tool right off the grinder and about 1/2 minuet for refreshing the edge as needed while I’m working.
The key to a good result
Following is a series of pics just to give you the idea of how to hold a chisel while honing and an idea of the results. The first photo is showing you (a real cheap) chisel fresh off my grinder. I use a Veritas grinder tool rest which gives me a super result using a white wheel. I love it! I always clamp my stone between my bench dogs.
Next I’m showing you how to hold the chisel. I always lay the chisel on the back heel of the bevel and then raise the handle until I hear a click sound which signifies that the 25 degree bevel is now flat on the stone. Then I raise the chisel to about 30 degrees keep my wrist locked as in the pic. I then use the index and middle fingers of my left hand to keep even pressure on the edge end of the blade and to maintain the 30 degree tilt. It is very important to hold the right hand as low as possible on the chisel shank so as not work against the pressure exerted by your left hand (Lefties will have to do all this in reverse) as shown in the photo below. (I had to hold my left hand a little wrong so as not to cover up what I was trying to show.
Here is the resulting edge after the first honing on the 600 grit and the back of the blade. It’s important to keep the blade flat against the stone while honing the back (or polishing if you will). I do about an inch or so as shown in the 2nd pic.
The final result
Here’s a pic of the finished edge after honing on the 1280 grit. All done in about two minutes.
You like the idea but this blog isn’t very good
I totally agree with you. To get the full story and much better photos please click on the link below. This is where I learned hand honing and I’m very glad I did. I strongly advise you to take a look at it.
Thanks for having a look.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.