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Micro bevels--continuing the conversation

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 02-09-2014 04:52 PM 896 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CharlesA

1434 posts in 453 days


02-09-2014 04:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question chisel plane sharpening

When I got my Veritas MK II honing guide, I read the instructions on how to put on a micro bevel. If you buy Veritas chisels, they come complete with the micro bevel. As I understand it, the main advantage is that the micro bevel is the sharpening bevel, so if you keep it sharp, one only has to hone a very small edge and that is much easier to keep up than the entire primary bevel. Makes sense.

Then I read Paul Sellers impassioned piece on why micro bevels are dumb. But as I read it, one part doesn’t make any sense to me. If the micro bevel is a larger angle, then it seems to me that edge has comparatively more metal than the primary bevel, so it is not weaker, but stronger. Am I making sense? If Sellers is correct on angle, then the actual angle at the end doesn’t make that much difference, it is really a question of whether or not the entire edge is at the same angle, or if the edge tip is a sharper angle.

Since I get confused easily, my planes now all have micro bevels and my chisels don’t (I changed my mind after doing the planes, in case you’re wondering), but now I think maybe the micros do make sense.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson


24 replies so far

View Tim's profile

Tim

1268 posts in 617 days


#1 posted 02-09-2014 06:53 PM

I think the micro bevels came about because it’s easier to learn to get a very sharp edge that way with a honing guide than practicing the old school method Paul shows that as far as I can tell is how most of the old timers did it. I’m still trying to practice the method Paul shows, but man I can get a better edge faster right now with a honing guide. I just don’t have enough time for consistent practice. Once you’ve got it down though his method is probably more efficient.

I’m not real good at pictures but if you consider a convex bevel that has 30 degrees right at the end and then lowers to something like 25 compared to a blade with a 25 degree bevel all the way except for a 30 degree micro bevel, the convex bevel has slightly more metal along the bevel.

Of course neither needs to be that dramatic, it’s less difference in degrees than that, but it shows the concept.

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JJohnston

1577 posts in 1946 days


#2 posted 02-09-2014 07:15 PM

No, you’re right. I don’t know why Paul Sellers doesn’t care for them, but he tends not to like jigs and modern contrivances in general.

I, for one, use the same Veritas honing guide you just reviewed, and I like it. I use the secondary bevel feature (maybe if you don’t call them “micro” they’ll be stronger) on everything.

-- "Sorry I'm late. Somebody tampered with my brakes." "You should have been early, then."

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Don W

15030 posts in 1223 days


#3 posted 02-09-2014 07:40 PM

I think the premise is simplicity. I’m an advocate for what ever works best for you, but Seller’s point it this. You can spend $70 on a jig, or learn free hand. Learn free hand and suddenly its quicker, and you don’t need the $70 jig. Being its quicker your more likely to resharpen sooner. Sharp tools are happy tools.

The idea of a micro bevel is good at first, but the bevel grows. Soon you’ve got to regrind (whatever that means to you) or your micro bevel is your primary bevel. So spend time regrinding, or free hand and get back to work.

Then you can spend time flattening your stones, or you can just sharpen and get back to work.

My suggestion has always been to hollow grind to learn freehand. Hollow grinding make freehanding easier, and by the time the hollow grind is gone, you don’t need it any more.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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woodchuckerNJ

878 posts in 289 days


#4 posted 02-09-2014 08:04 PM

My opinion, a micro bevel offers a firmer edge. BUT I am not using a micro on my chisels any longer. I have put a slight hollow ground on the chisels.
I also strop like crazy. many times I don’t have to sharpen, just re-strop. I have found stropping the is the biggest key to a sharp edge.

On my planes I will sometims use a micro bevel, but think of this, a micro bevel on a bevel down plane doesn’t change the irons angle. It does on a bevel up. I am only concerned with sharp, not how I get there. The sharper it is the better it is. As long as you don’t weaken the edge by putting a very shallow angle on the iron, all should be good, but different degrees.

-- Jeff NJ

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shampeon

1377 posts in 839 days


#5 posted 02-09-2014 08:13 PM

A micro bevel has more material behind the edge than a straight or concave (hollow-grind) bevel, but a convex bevel has even more, and is easier to free-hand sharpen to maintain the same angle.

Edit to add in concave or hollow-ground bevel.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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knockknock

209 posts in 828 days


#6 posted 02-09-2014 08:24 PM

Don W said: The idea of a micro bevel is good at first, but the bevel grows. Soon you’ve got to regrind (whatever that means to you) or your micro bevel is your primary bevel.

Ding Ding Ding

That is why I don’t use micro bevels, I don’t have a machine to regrind the bevel. I removed the factory micro bevel by hand (reground with a jig) on 2 pmv11 blades. It was not my idea of fun.

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Tim

1268 posts in 617 days


#7 posted 02-09-2014 08:25 PM

Thanks Ian, that was the picture I was trying to describe. As they say, a picture is better.

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jdh122

358 posts in 1473 days


#8 posted 02-09-2014 08:38 PM

I have the same Veritas guide and have been using micro-bevels on everything. I’ve recently started trying to freehand sharpen chisels and plan irons. I have been doing more work with axes, knives, gouges, drawknives and an adze, all tools that can basically only be freehand sharpened, and have been impressing myself with the freehand results, and decided to try on straight blades too. It immediately becomes clear why the microbevel is not recommended with freehand sharpening. I ground them off on a plane iron or two and found the freehand sharpening worked quite well. I’m not quite confident enough in my freehanding to get rid of all the microbevels yet…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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CharlesA

1434 posts in 453 days


#9 posted 02-09-2014 08:40 PM

that pic illustrates why I didn’t understand the notion that micro-bevles are “weak.” I get why some don’t like it. Interesting to me that Lee Valley/Veritas, one of the biggies in the chisel/plane/sharpening world, are believers in micro-bevels.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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Don W

15030 posts in 1223 days


#10 posted 02-09-2014 08:46 PM

Interesting to me that Lee Valley/Veritas, one of the biggies in the chisel/plane/sharpening world, are believers in micro-bevels.

Really? You’re in business to sell tools, and you can sell honing jigs, flattening stones, sets of stones, and a bunch of other Paraphernalia, or you can say hey, just free hand. I think their opinions might be slightly skewed.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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CharlesA

1434 posts in 453 days


#11 posted 02-09-2014 08:47 PM

They sell their highly regarded chisels, for example, with a micro-bevel as well—I was referring to that as much as the jigs.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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HarveyDunn

286 posts in 386 days


#12 posted 02-09-2014 09:30 PM

What Charles said.

I’m currently reading a book by renowned carver/instructor Chris Pye. His recommendation for carving tools? Micro-bevels.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3455 posts in 2616 days


#13 posted 02-09-2014 09:33 PM

Sharpening is kinda like sour mash. Whatever work for you is the way to go.
I use the micros on plane irons, and straight bevels on my cast steel chisels.
I use the Makita horizontal water grinder as well as a high speed 7” grinder. After studying some sites, I wonder how I ever get anything sharp. I guess that the leather strops and green compound save me from all the errors. :)
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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shampeon

1377 posts in 839 days


#14 posted 02-09-2014 10:05 PM

I agree with Bill. We’re getting close to reigniting a holy war, so to maybe try to head it off, it’s important to note why Paul Sellers says you shouldn’t do a micro bevel. It’s because it’s easier to freehand a convex bevel, so you spend less time sharpening and more time working.

Any of the bevels will produce a sharp edge, so choose one way to do it among the bazillion ways, and let the noise of the debate fade away.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Don W's profile

Don W

15030 posts in 1223 days


#15 posted 02-09-2014 10:08 PM

yea, this probably should be classified under the “religion” heading.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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