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"Scary Sharp" Approach to Sharpening Chisels

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Forum topic by MJCD posted 10-07-2012 02:51 AM 2486 views 2 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MJCD

455 posts in 1094 days


10-07-2012 02:51 AM

This is a quick comment – not a review – concerning the “Scary Sharp” (SS) sharpening approach. I put this in quotes, as I’ve seen many variations upon a theme for precisely what is the SS system. This will be old news for the experienced members, and this may differ from what you do.

Essentially, the SS approach is a fairly low-tech, low cost approach to sharpening steel chisels and planes. The system includes 1) a perfectly flat stone or piece of glass, approximately 1 foot by 6”, or so; 2) sand paper of progressively fine to super fine grits – up to 2,000, or so; 3) a chisel honing guide (purchased from a company such as Veritas, or other); and, 4) a super fine grit stone – up to 10,000 (this can be anyone of several wetstones, DMT (Diamond), or other type). Again, I’ll ask more experienced members for any necessary corrections. All-in cost is about $100, with the honing guide being the primary expense – I went to a local granite counter top company, and they allowed me to rummage through their waste granite pile.

This approach specifically excludes high-cost Tormeks, and other similar motorized approaches. I owned a Tormex, and loved it right up to the time I sold it.

The sandpaper is wet-tensioned or spray-glued to the flat stone or glass; then a precisely-guided chisel is lightly drawn across the progressive grits – the honing guide is essential to the process; though, I imagine many members have the experience to do this manually.

My current project is quickly dulling my chisels, and I’ve used the above approach to quickly regain a razor-smooth, mirror finish on the chisels.

If you’re in the market for an inexpensive sharpen system, check this out.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference


31 replies so far

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MattHartzell

12 posts in 784 days


#1 posted 10-07-2012 03:05 AM

Seems to be a pretty accurate description of what I understand the scary sharp method to be. I use the method for sharpening everything from plane irons to scraper blades.

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1416 days


#2 posted 10-07-2012 03:43 AM

Yep, that’s it.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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a1Jim

112528 posts in 2300 days


#3 posted 10-07-2012 03:47 AM

Ditto
You don’t have to have a guide to use this approach but it’s easier with one.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

288 posts in 1801 days


#4 posted 10-07-2012 12:21 PM

I use sandpaper only and no guide. While my results are not perfect, I can take the hair off my arm with it, and I am getting better with practice.

-- I still have all my fingers

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Charlie

1064 posts in 1009 days


#5 posted 10-07-2012 12:30 PM

I heard a rather ….. well let’s call him a wood snob .. kind of poo-poo’ing the scary sharp method. I said, “Wait a second. Do you not draw your blades over finer and finer grit until they’re sharp?”. To which he replied, “Of course I do, but I use stones!”. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “This method is exactly the same as what you do, but the stones are much thinner.”

So… how many times have we heard here on LJ that there’s more than one way to do something? :)

And just because the methods are different, it doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other if the end result is the same. In this case, a wonderfully sharp edge.

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Handtooler

1114 posts in 855 days


#6 posted 10-07-2012 12:35 PM

There’s a “Best Tip” in “Wood” Magazine this month to do exactly the same type system to sharpen Planner and Jointer blades and by bevel cutting an 1/8” kerf in a 2 X 6 block as the jig/guage and using the saw table and fence.

I believe the proper way to do the sharpening is to draw the tool only backwards across the sandpaper and be sure to remove the bur from the bacl of the blade before quitting. Am I infact correct?

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

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MJCD

455 posts in 1094 days


#7 posted 10-07-2012 06:44 PM

HandTooler:

What I’ve read and seen with several ‘scary sharp’ videos is precisely what you say – draw the chisel, don’t push it. The reasons given are 1) the sandpaper is very fragile and easily ripped; and, 2) you can push shavings into the honing point, if you push the chisel, and this will disrupt the filing process.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5930 posts in 2151 days


#8 posted 10-07-2012 07:44 PM

Well, now!
I use a guide and have always pushed the blade without problems. But, MJCD’s and Russell’s observations make a lot of sense. I’ll start pulling, by golly.
Thanks, guys.

-- 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 JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

288 posts in 1801 days


#9 posted 10-07-2012 08:14 PM

If your not using a jig, don’t push. No one can hold it steady enough for it not to dig into the paper.

-- I still have all my fingers

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1020 days


#10 posted 10-07-2012 08:27 PM

yes thats exactly what I use. I have a large industrial granite plate A grade and then glass, my plane irons are razor sharp will cut seriously thin shavings I don’t like stones. I usually finish with 2500 gt sandpaper

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1020 days


#11 posted 10-07-2012 08:30 PM

this is my granite plate that I use

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1020 days


#12 posted 10-07-2012 08:31 PM

I use the Veritas Jig it works great

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1020 days


#13 posted 10-07-2012 08:35 PM

I go forward and back with the Jig then smooth the back and I have a razor edge ready for action

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1020 days


#14 posted 10-07-2012 08:38 PM

I work in quality control so I take some of my glass bases to a surftester and check the flatness of the glass I have found some glass with small mite say ridges but the glass I use is most dead flat very small minute waves in the surface

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

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CyberDyneSystems

116 posts in 911 days


#15 posted 10-07-2012 08:40 PM

I love this method!
It’s not my only solution, I still have some stones, grinders etc, I use a small 1” stationary belt sander for roughing work a lot as opposed to bench grinder as you get way less chance of overheating,. but once it’s down to getting things sharp, sandpaper on something flat is hard to beat for speed and results.

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