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What methods do you all use for sharpening A2 steel irons?

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Forum topic by JohnnyBoy1981 posted 04-22-2017 01:38 AM 1268 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 271 days


04-22-2017 01:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: a2 sharpening

I bought some old planes off eBay recently, and they all had the original irons. Generally thin, I could basically sharpen them in no time with a variety of methods: india stone, cheap waterstones, and the Worksharp WS3000.

But I bought some new Stanley Sweetheart planes, and they have much thicker, harder A2 steel irons. I hate trying to reestablish the primary bevel or hone them. For me, no matter the method I use, it takes me a very long time to get those things sharp. My goal is to make sharpening and honing a quick activity so I can get back to my projects.

Am I missing something? Should I be using a different method for attacking these guys?

I appreciate any advice.

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!


31 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

5047 posts in 2100 days


#1 posted 04-22-2017 02:00 AM

John your going to get a lot of advice with this question. It’s been discussed at length for quite some time. I use scary sharp, wet/dry sandpaper or granite counter top scrapes and a Veritas Honing guide. It works well for me.

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 271 days


#2 posted 04-22-2017 02:08 AM

Sorry to beat a dead horse (or topic). I generally search the forum for an answer before I ask a question, but neglected to do so this time. Sorry!

Thanks for your reply!

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

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Fred Hargis

4756 posts in 2327 days


#3 posted 04-22-2017 11:21 AM

I use my WS3000, and get really good and quick results. I recently changed the bevel on an A2 from Lee Valley, and that did take some time, I dropped back to 80 grit for the early going on the WS. But unless I’m doing something like that I’ve had no problems.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1423 posts in 1824 days


#4 posted 04-22-2017 01:02 PM

To establish a new bevel on a thick iron, even O1, especially A2, I use a bench grinder. Belt or disc sander works as well. Then hone the edge however you hone. I prefer lapping film on glass. A2 does take longer. Some stone types dont play well with A2, it needs a more friable stone type, but I haven’t had any issue with the lapping film.

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EricTwice

228 posts in 367 days


#5 posted 04-22-2017 01:45 PM

I don’t use a secondary bevel. I always hollow grind my blades. (I use a bench grinder, keeping the blade wet. it takes a little practice and a steady hand.) then use a diamond hone to clean up and just a touch on an all cotton hard sewn buff to remove the wire edge. It only takes about 30 sec. if I am not removing a nick. I do all my edges this way. It gives a quick razor edge.

I know the true-ists will not like it, but I don’t get paid to sharpen tools.

notes,
I will only grind when the hollow is gone from the blade. If there is hollow remaining I will hone only.
you only need to grind it hollow not all the way to the edge.
use only a hard sewn, all cotton wheel, too soft will round the edge, too course will ruin the blade
I like green compound, although others will work.
Use a light touch on the buff. you are removing the wire, not polishing

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 271 days


#6 posted 04-22-2017 03:07 PM

Eric Twice:

I’m confused. When you do a hollow grind on a bench grinder, you don’t go all the way to the edges? Is what you do more akin to what I’ve seen on some Japanese chisels where the center is ground very low leaving a working edge around that center?

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1172 posts in 1632 days


#7 posted 04-22-2017 03:26 PM

I also hollow grind my A2 blades most are Lie Niselson.I use a tormek and a high speed grinder when the flat ares get big I regrind the hollow.
Very rarely do I hollow grind Japaneese chisels or my one plane blade.Only if I goof up and chip out corner.The steel is too expensive.And it just not necessary.
Good luck

-- Aj

View Sunstealer73's profile

Sunstealer73

128 posts in 1927 days


#8 posted 04-22-2017 04:24 PM

Bench grinder + Shaptons stones seems to work well.

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

228 posts in 367 days


#9 posted 04-22-2017 07:07 PM

Yes, it is exactly what is done with a hammer on a Japanese chisel. you form a ridge behind and hone on the 2 points. This way you are not trying to work the entire edge.

You do go all the way from side to side, but you don’t have to go all the way to the cutting edge unless you are removing a problem. Keep the blade wet and watch for any change in color. (straw-no problem add water, brown-get water on it fast, purple-Let us hope it’s ok, dark blue- You just scorched your blade, light blue- you screwed up bad)

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View JohnnyBoy1981's profile

JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 271 days


#10 posted 04-22-2017 08:08 PM


You do go all the way from side to side, but you don t have to go all the way to the cutting edge unless you are removing a problem. Keep the blade wet and watch for any change in color. (straw-no problem add water, brown-get water on it fast, purple-Let us hope it s ok, dark blue- You just scorched your blade, light blue- you screwed up bad)

- EricTwice

That would make a handy color chart for beginners!

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

4492 posts in 3078 days


#11 posted 04-23-2017 01:45 AM

You should start by tossing the carborundum wheels that came with your bench grinder. They are not meant for sharpening. Get an aluminum oxide wheels; 38A abrasive type (white), 120 grit. It does light removal of metal and stays cool while grinding, so you don’t risk destroying the temper on the steel. Get another aluminum oxide wheel; 32A abrasive type (purple), 80 grit. It is for medium to heavy metal removal. They will cost you about $25 each for a 6” wheel; 8” wheels will cost more. It is also a good idea to get a diamond dresser to keep your wheels cutting well. The final grind can then be done by scary sharp, water stones or diamond hones. Always keep water handy so the tool doesn’t lose it’s temper.

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 271 days


#12 posted 04-23-2017 03:55 AM

Thanks, Mr. Ron. Any recommendations on a decent bench grinder that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? I’m a hobbyist working out of his garage!

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8026 posts in 2411 days


#13 posted 04-23-2017 03:56 AM

Good to know Mr Ron, thanks

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

228 posts in 367 days


#14 posted 04-23-2017 12:02 PM

I agree with Ron, but you can still burn things with the expensive wheels, keep your tools wet. when I was apprenticing years ago they made me learn on the cheap carborundum wheels. If I could do it with them I could do it with anything.

Don’t bother with a 4in toy. Beyond that almost anything will work. The bigger the better. At the house, I am still using the 6 inch cheapy I bought at sam’s club years ago. You should watch for the yard sales flea markets and auctions. (I have a friend who collects the old american made ones he finds in these places. He has 9, 8 inch+, and promised to sell me a couple when I have my shop up.)

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View oldsailor59's profile

oldsailor59

51 posts in 264 days


#15 posted 04-23-2017 01:49 PM

I make knives and only use a bench grinder for rough shaping. a wheel has a very small contact area and it is very easy to mess up. to shape and restore edges I use a 2×72 belt sander and an 8” disc grinder, both are variable speed. any time you are sharpening and throw sparks, you are dulling the edge.
For sharpening I use a combination of oil stones and diamond stones. for rough shaping and starting, I use a coarse/fine Norton Crystolon. the JB8 is 2”x 8” x 1”, the JUM3 is 2 1/2” x 11 1/2” x 1”. Crystolon is silicon carbide and will easily sharpen A2, O1, or M2. once done on fine side, I go to diamond. I start with a double sided 400/800 diamond, then go to a 1200 diamond. another choice would be a 4 sided diamond that is 200/300/400/600(http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Four-Sided-Whetstone-Diamond-Sharpening-Stone-Block-Set-DF8524DS-US-SHIPPER/270845728394?rt=nc&_soffid=5024581309&_soffType=OrderSubTotalOffer&_trksid=p5731.m3795). I found mine on sale at Harbor Freight for $11.

-- Scott just a tired old sailor glad to be home from the sea

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