Getting set up for sharpening (scarry method)

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Forum topic by startingfromscratch posted 01-04-2010 08:51 PM 1517 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 3161 days

01-04-2010 08:51 PM

Okay, so Santa brought me a Veritas Mark II honing guide and I now have no excuse for not cracking the seal on learning to sharpen. I plan on picking up 2 marble tiles (12×12x3/8), silicon carbide sandpaper in 80, 100, 150, 180, 220, 400, 600, 1200, and 2000 grits, 3m #77 spray adhesive, baby oil, acetone and a razor holder for clean up. I am also a weekend warrior that is just starting out. I’ve read Rod P.s site and the posts here on the method and have some specific questions, if you have the time:

1) I have no power grinding capabilities and can’t spend any more loot on tools for a while. I was handed a half dozen old powerkraft butt chisels that were sharpened without a guide and bevel is convex. I think they are worth learning on before I save up for a set of narex. Hollow grinding is out of the question, but can’t I just start on the rough grits and elbow grease a new 25 deg flat bevel on them?

2) How much time do I spend on honing the primary bevel before switching to the micro-bevel (which the mark II makes pretty easy)? Should I go all the way through 2000 on the primary (switching between lapping and honing)?

3) Where does the baby oil go? All over the quarter sheet strip? A could drops on the far end of the strip to “dip” the blade into?

4) For weekend warrioring, won’t working up to 2000 get me a reasonably sharp edge? Can I put off futzing with diamond paste, green honing compound, leather strop, yada yada or is there something additional that I should definitely add into the initial sharpening set up?

4) Unrelated to the scarry method, I was also handed down a combination bench oil stone (no idea what grit on either side, its dark on one side and reddish on the other and labelled with “bay state product”) that is pretty far from flat…any specific directions on how to flatten that stone out? Do I just rub it in a figure eight on a cinder block? Should I lubricate it with something and if so, what?

Sorry for the deluge, but I’m flying blind here…

12 replies so far

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3530 days

#1 posted 01-05-2010 06:45 AM

I’ll take stab at answering some of your questions based on my recent experience.
1. I also bought a 12×12 polished marble tile. You really only need one. The way I did it was to tape (double sided carpet tape) the coarsest grit (400) to the tile on two outside edges only.

2. I then lapped the back of the chisels. I used copius amounts of oil because you don’t want the paper to load up with metal. (I used forward and back motion only on all steps.)

3. Leave the 400 grit in place and with oil on it, lay the 600 grit on top. The oil will hold it in place by capillary action. Lap the back as before.

4. Repeat with 1200 and 2000 grits. At this point the back of the chisel (1/4 inch or so) should be as shiney as a mirror. Now put the chisel in your Veritas honing guide.

5. Remove the 2000 and 1200 grits and hone the back bevel using the 600 grit.

6. Repeat with 1200 and 2000 grits.

7. Finally, hone the secondary bevel with 2000 grit only.

Since your old chisels have a lot of problems I’d reestablish the correct angles using your bench stones. It won’t take as long as you might think. Again, use a lot of oil.

I don’t bother with diamond paste, honing compound, etc. and they are plenty sharp for my purposes. Maybe as my skill set gets better I’ll change my mind. But for now – good enough.

-- Joe

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3454 days

#2 posted 01-05-2010 01:24 PM

Here’s a link to a thread about scary sharpening from a year ago or so. It should help.

-- Steve--

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3271 days

#3 posted 01-05-2010 03:01 PM

I use the same method for sharpening and with no prior sharpening experience, the Veritas honing guide you bought makes it nearly foolproof.
1) Yes, just start with coarse grits and work your way up. You will get the result you desire without hollow grinding. Hollow grinding just means less sharpening work, your end result will be nearly the same.
2) I go up to 2000 on the primary bevel, then about 5 strokes or so on the secondary bevel at the 1200 grit and the same at 2000. You only want a very small secondary bevel to start.
3) Start with a small amount of oil, add more as you see fit. If you put down a lot to begin with, you will have a big mess. You will be able to gauge how much is enough as you start working.
4) I only go to 2000 grit paper and I get a very, very sharp edge for my hobby work. I don’t think you need to invest resources in anything more right now. You will probably be amazed how sharp your tools will be.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3730 days

#4 posted 01-05-2010 03:15 PM

Don’t forget to flatten and polish the backs of your chisels and plane irons before working on the bevel. You dont have to flatten the whole back, just the firs 1/2” or so from the edge. I use the sandpaper method initially on new tools and wet stones thereafter.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10372 posts in 3397 days

#5 posted 01-05-2010 03:39 PM

+1 on everyone’s advice….especially 8iowa’s advice about flattening the back.
I use a 12X12 square of 3/16 glass pane and use water to adhere the paper. I can put 3 different grits on and just go from one to the other, remove and put on the next grit(s) when sharpening chisels. I’ve never experienced slippage of the paper so, glue or tape is not necessary, IMO.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Tim_456's profile


170 posts in 3564 days

#6 posted 01-05-2010 04:19 PM

I’m certainly no expert in this but on my first try with this method about a year ago I just dove in and everything worked out fine. Lap the backs first then use the honing guide; you really can’t screw it up because everything is going at such a slow pace. Once you start you’ll quickly see “Hey, I think I need more oil!” and you’ll add more. When I was done I had sore arms and fingers but I had given my cheap chisels and plane irons a mirror finish. Of all the new things I’ve done in woodworking, this turned out to be the most foolproof. I also stop at 2000 grit as that’s plenty sharp for me. It sounds like you’ve got all the right materials and you’ve read enough to get the concept. If you’ve gotten that far, you have the skills to dive in and give it a try.

At frist I thought it would be a pain and a hassle, but it did turn out to be very relaxing and mind-numbing after a long day at work to just sit and do something mechanically simple and repeatable. Plus it’s a great feeling seeing that metal clean up and get smooth, shiny, and mirror-like. Just watch your fingers when you’re done;) Happy sharpening!

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3433 days

#7 posted 01-05-2010 04:21 PM

two comments:

1. use only light-moderate pressure while honing your blades – more pressure WILL make it go faster, but it will also make the blade uneven or skewed in some way… dont ask how i know!

2. i like using a strop will 1-micron polishing compound. Mine is a tough cloth. I jsut read about using a piece of MDF as a strop – just add the compound on top and have at it. the advantage is that it’s super flat and wont round over the edge at all… i’ve yet to try it though.

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3617 days

#8 posted 01-05-2010 04:47 PM

I did the same way Joe (ajoseph) did – I taped 100grit paper to a tile with carpet tape on the corners, and used that to create my 25 bevel. it takes some elbow greese to bring messed up blades to a nice flat bevel, but not as bad as you may think – if you have any sort of grinder – even a friend – use that to help you speed the process to at least get the blades close to the 25 bevel, and clean them up.

after I lapped the back with the 100 grit, I placed a sheet of 150 on the 100 grit which held it in place, lapped the back… moved up to 400, 600, 1500, 2500.

for the bevel – if you are going to have a micro bevel – there is no real need to hone the primary bevel as this won’t be contacting the wood anyways. just sharpen it up to 400/600 to clean up the bevel, and then you can do the microbevel with just the highest grits (1000+) you only need a narrow microbevel area, so this will be very fast – which also why using microbevel is so nice.

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

View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 3161 days

#9 posted 01-05-2010 05:25 PM

This is all really awesome, thanks! I have to admit that I am totally intimidated by the whole sharpening process and this is really, really helpful!

And advice on flattening an oil stone? Also, any way to tell what grit a stone is if its not labelled?

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3530 days

#10 posted 01-05-2010 10:53 PM

Re: Flattening an oil stone – I’ve read that you can do it by rubbing it on sandpaper attached to your marble tile. So far my stones are still flat, but this is what I’ll try when the day comes.

How to tell what grit? You said your stone is red on one side and black on the other. Probably the black is carborundum and is the coarser of the two. Just run your finger across them – smoother is finer.

-- Joe

View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 3161 days

#11 posted 01-07-2010 04:35 AM

Okay…frustration. I was just numbing around with my veritas jig and the chisels don’t fit. Several of the chisels I was handed down are powerkraft butt chisels and are 1) pretty convex on the bevel and 2) pretty short. There’s no way to get them far enough into the jig so the end is resting on the stop set at 25 deg. without having the round part of the metal be sitting in the jig area that’s supposed to hold it in place.


View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3530 days

#12 posted 01-07-2010 05:00 AM

I don’t know what a butt chisel is but it sounds like they are too short. Here’s a link to an instruction manual that you might look at as a reality check.

You might also take a photo one of your bad guys and post it here (in the jig) so we can see if you are missing something.

Home Depot has a set of 4 Marple (1/4” – 3/4”) for about $30.00 that you may consider. They are obviously low end Marples but I have a set and they are ok for entry level stuff.

-- Joe

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