Sharpening Techniques

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Forum topic by spunwood posted 11-28-2010 12:21 AM 1926 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2830 days

11-28-2010 12:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sharpening stone stones jig jigs chisels plane blade

So what do you all prefer?

I am considering whether to do the whetstone route or the diamond stones. The diamond stones seem simpler…less mess and less maintainance.

How many of you sharpen and/or grind free hand…how many use a jig?

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

19 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#1 posted 11-28-2010 12:44 AM

For plane irons, chisels and card scrapers I use the scary sharp method with up to 8 grits of sandpaper (up to 2000). I often finish them off with a 6000 grit whetshone or an 8000 grit ceramic stone.

I have a small diamond plate that I keep in my pocket for quick touch-ups to my lathe cutting tools between trips to the grinder.

In my opinion, the diamond plates don’t give you the smooth finish you want. I don’t use them for “fine sharpening” of plane irons or chisels.

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

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2993 days

#2 posted 11-28-2010 01:17 AM

I’m with Rich, sharpening on plate glass with sand paper is a great and inexpensive way to sharpen just about anything you would like. I only go up to a 2000 grit on my chisels and irons but still works well even in figured woods.

-- Drew, Delaware

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3781 days

#3 posted 11-28-2010 02:05 AM

For fine tools, I use the sandpaper “scary-sharp” method also. I have found that stropping or using a felt wheel with green buffing compound (chromium oxide) greatly enhances the edge after the 2000 gr paper. For re-establishing or changing a primary bevel on a chisel or plane iron, I use the diamond sharpeners to cut the metal quicker without heat build-up. I use a Veritas guide rather than free-hand, as it allows me to hit the bevel exactly without a lot of trial and error. (I mark the primary and secondary bevel angles on the tool/iron with a sharpie).

For hard steel knives and curved cutting edges, I get the best results with a hard Arkansas stone and strop. I carry a small DMT diamond stick (medium/fine) for field touch-up of knives, etc.

For axes, hatchets, machetes, bush-axes, etc, I use a 1” belt sander. Field touch-up is with a mill file and washita stone or diamond stick.

Shovels, hoes, etc get reformed with a grinder, and then smoothed with a mill file.

I use hand files for sharpening chain and hand saws.

I do not have a lathe, so have never sharpened the variety of tools used on one.


-- Go

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10477 posts in 3422 days

#4 posted 11-28-2010 02:29 AM

Scary sharp and an Arkansas stone. I use the veritas MKII for a guide.

-- 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 Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3336 days

#5 posted 11-28-2010 03:00 AM

Norton Water Stones here. I have never used diamond stones before. I know there is no flattening with diamond stones but I am not sure what kind of a edge a very fine diamond provides relative to a 8000 or 16000 grit water stone. I have a 1000, 4000 & 8000 grit stones and am very happy with the results i consistently achieve. The water sucks but it is better than oil.

I hollow grind my chisels and plane irons and it is free hand with chisels and MK 2 honing jig for the plane irons. I still am not comfortable honing free hand with the plane irons yet.

-- Marc

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2792 days

#6 posted 11-28-2010 03:22 AM

I grind everything hollow, two bevels, by hand and finish with an oil stone and strop on my hand. “if you can see the edge, you don’t have one”

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#7 posted 11-28-2010 04:41 AM

Waterstones and my trusty Makita horizontal grinder. Quick and easy.


View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4062 days

#8 posted 11-28-2010 06:01 AM

Here is an interesting article with one man’s take on the value of stropping

Another article with some data on the consistency, or inconsistency, of stropping, honing, and polishing compounds.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18266 posts in 3670 days

#9 posted 11-28-2010 06:17 AM

That is some good interesitng info Coloradoclimber. Makes sense if yiou are sharpening finer tha than teh strop compound, stropping will be going backwards ;-)) Never really thougth about it that way, but I mainly strop to keep sharp on my leather tooling knife.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Boris 's profile


190 posts in 2909 days

#10 posted 11-28-2010 06:31 AM

I use japanese water stone for may hand plane iron and the worksharp for the chisels

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2844 days

#11 posted 11-28-2010 04:43 PM

+1 to Gofor for an excellent post. The large takeaway is that there is no one “system” that works well for an individual for every sharpening challenge. I also noted that his sharpening equipment does not represent a significant outlay of money.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View hokieman's profile


184 posts in 3748 days

#12 posted 11-28-2010 06:54 PM

I tried water stones and they are aggravating as heck. I spend as much time flattening the stones as I do sharpening tools! So I have gone extensively to scary sharp. If you want scary sharp edges you can get sandpaper down to 2000 grit at auto stores or some tool catalogs have some papers that are super smooth paper down to 0.5 microns. I have had the best results that way. I use a scrap piece of granite I got from a countertop place. I am thinking of getting one of those super flat granite plates from Grizzly, though.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3264 days

#13 posted 11-28-2010 07:56 PM

I use diamond stones and ceramic stones. The diamond I use on my turning tools…along with a leather strop. I only use a grinder to repair the bevel. Diamond are for quick removal of material….then a few strops to get a smooth longer lasting edge – I use a strop to touch up the edges and will do this twice as many times as I use the stones. For plate irons, flat knives and carving tools, I use a combo of diamond or ceramics with a veritas MK II guide….I like the very fine ceramics to get the edge ready for strop polishing. I have used the scary method also and it is a great inexpensive way to get a good edge…but I find that it does not last as long as a diamond/ceramic stropped edge….even after stropping the scary. I have not found any machine that can produce as good an edge as hand sharpening….but that is my preference as I was taught to sharpen by hand. I had a friend use his worksharp and we compared it to my hand sharpened….the edge on the hand sharpened tool lasted longer and did not catch as much as the worksharp blade but both cut the wood quite well. I believe that any method will work as long as you have the correct starting bevel angle…..then…if you maintain a good edge – the sharpening takes only a few swipes on a stone or on a strop – most beginner sharpeners have a tendency to round over the edge….When I was taught how to sharpen, my grandfather gave me a small wedge of wood to get the feel of the proper angle between stone and tool….I have several of these at different angles to make sure I am keeping the blade straight and the angle true.

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

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2934 days

#14 posted 11-28-2010 09:30 PM

Same as shipwright, freehand grinding, oilstones (Arkansas, Wachita, Norton) and stropping with a leather strop.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2965 days

#15 posted 11-28-2010 10:39 PM

+1 for scary sharp system. I use a granite tile instead of glass. One little trick I add is to strop on a sheet of mylar drafting vellum. Never heard of anyone else using this, but it works for me.

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