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Thread: Woodworking tools and sharpening

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    Senior Member TristanLudlow's Avatar
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    Default Woodworking tools and sharpening

    I've recently gotten into woodworking, I have a whole bunch of old and new tools that I inherited and bought new.

    I was wondering how everyone keeps their hand planes and chisels sharp,

    Of course as razor honers we got all the nice stones and maybe a couple of DMTs, so I was wondering how everyone sharpens their planes and chisels?

    What stones do you use and do you use a honing guide or free hand?

    I'm particularly looking for getting a couple more DMTs (higher grits) because they remain flat and seem the easiest to use and finish up on a pasted strop.


    Also, if there are any good resources or people you really like, feel free to suggest; I still have to learn a lot

    Currently, I'm studying books and DVDs by Paul Sellers, Rob Cosman, Chris Schwarz and Roy Underhill
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    Senior Member tintin's Avatar
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    I would say that i like Arkansas stones for wood working tools, though the old Carborundums are alright too. I only have a course DMT which is good for tools that are damaged but i imagine finer ones would be a good investment.
    There's a book called Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools by Michael Dunbar that is a good resource if you like the old tools. lots of info on planes and chisels and how to sharpen them.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    I have 600 and 1200 grit large bench hones for when things are really out of whack, like your son borrows your chisel and uses it to cut nails. Most of my sharpened tools get a bench strop with mystery green compound on for maintenance. I am not a heavy user of hand tools, but I have a few. There are a couple of guys who will be around that are series users of hand tools and likely have elaborate set ups. I keep it super simple. I only have a few planes and a few chisels.
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    Senior Member TristanLudlow's Avatar
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    I took my time to restore a couple of my grandfather's tools, he's got a lot of tools made by EA Berg Eskilstuna, which I have a couple of razors of so that's pretty cool.

    Gotta say, knowing about lapping stones, bevels, angles, using a marker, knowing how to strop etc. all comes in very handy

    The chisels took a wicked edge, free-handing isn't as bad as I imagined. I cut out the angle I wanted on a piece of paper and put that on my stone and used that as a guide to free hand it, worked like a charm!

    Started on a DMT and ended on the backside of a Thuringer and stropped up, chisels are cutting really well. I tried a coti and bbw as well as finisher, but the thuringer edge came out best in test cutting.
    The plane iron was a bit more challenging and is cutting OK, feels like there's room left for improvement, but the shavings are pretty nice and thin on my testing


    Clearly someone used some of his chisels to open cans of paint and doing strange things with, some are askew, have the edge chipped and are covered in paint
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    Senior Member blabbermouth Steel's Avatar
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    I have a vintage Pike with two stones in a reversible box. A vintage India stone for rough work and a lily white Washita for everything else. Sometimes I break out finishing stones, especially for my hand planes, like thuringian, ark translucent, surgical black, etc. Most of the time for tools the Pike reversible stone set is all I need for fast and fine work.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    So, a good group of woodworking mentors all, try adding David Charlesworth (ruler micro back bevel) and Deneb Puchalski for precision honing.

    You must decide how precise your plane and chisel honing need to be, depending on the work the tool you will be doing. In the last few years woodworkers caught the honing bug and think all edges need to be mirror and honed on 20-30k stones. That is your call as is freehand or jig honing, woodworking, tape no tape drama. I do both depending on the tool, application and time.

    I use sandpaper for rough work, flattening backs, (I still flatten backs, you only must do it once and use the Charlesworth micro back bevel) and Diamond plates. I set bevels on a grinder to hollow grind for speed and ease of honing, the grit or composition of grinding stone grit does not matter much, except that courser is cooler, and quicker.

    I polish bevels on 140, 600 and 1k Diamond plates smooth on a 4 and 8k Norton, (old razor stone, now dedicated to knives & tools) and polish on paste, Diamond, CBN or Chrome Oxide leather strop or finish on MDF and metal polish, (Mass or 3m Marine).

    For carving tools and paring chisels I maintain an edge on a strop and paste, for a smoking cutting edge. If I remove a blade from a plane it gets a few laps on an 8k and leather pasted strop. If chipped, goes to the grinder first.

    Arks are also a good choice for carving tool and chisels because of their hardness and edge production, finished on pasted leather or MDF.

    Learning to freehand hone, will save you a lot of time and cut your honing down to seconds as will stropping on paste.
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    Senior Member jfk742's Avatar
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    I use pasted mdf bench sized hones atm. Been using those for 4-5 years. They stay flat until they arenít then I use a #3 bench plane to reflatten them. I use the dmt pastes 6-3-1 micron. I set my bevels with a dmt 1k. Watching rob cosman he goes 1k diamond to 16k shapton glass, which is the direction Iím thinking of going, then using 8k or 6k glass stone to ease the jump. Iíve tried my naniwas but there is too much screwing around. The glass stones would be nice because theyíre actually a spray and go. If sharpening isnít easy and fast you wonít do it often enough.

    Sellers way of doing things with pasted leather after setting the bevel is fast but you need straight edges, the action he uses produces an extremely sharp edge, quickly, but at the expense of rounding things. Hand tools can be incredibly accurate but they need to be not only sharp but square.

    A micro bevel on the back of the blade will save you a bunch of time for hand planes but on chisels is a no-no. The back must be perfectly flat and as polished as you can get it.

    You are very well served for honing just from your experience honing straight razors, it really took my wood working edges to a new level. I use my planes, scrapers and chisels to final finish on everything that I can, sanding produces a muddy look in comparison.

    You may want to look into James Krenov as well. He goes deep into how to sharpen and prepare blades for sharpening. His furniture is constantly copied and for good reason. Iíve made a couple of his style of hand planes and they are incredibly versatile and easy to make. Hock sells blades for them as well and can be found on the internet.
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    The First Cut is the Deepest! Magpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel View Post
    I have a vintage Pike with two stones in a reversible box. A vintage India stone for rough work and a lily white Washita for everything else. Sometimes I break out finishing stones, especially for my hand planes, like thuringian, ark translucent, surgical black, etc. Most of the time for tools the Pike reversible stone set is all I need for fast and fine work.
    I have one of those Pike flip-box as well. But instead of Washita, it sports a translucent hard, and a fine India. I try now and then to find another one with the Washita but they always sell for too much money. THey came in a variety of combinations, and of course, you can search out individual replacement stones. That said,Bad damages I do on a grinder or belt sander. I do all my chisels by hand, no jig. Since I dont do precision work, I seldom take them past the 8k mark. For mortising out a door, its fast and fine enough. And yes, people will (and have) used my best wide wood chisel as a wallpaper scraper, and hit every raised nailhead they could find along the way. Yet another reason to learn to hone your own, and to NEVER loan your tools to anybody no matter how much they insist they know what they are doing with them.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    The old “round your edges on a strop” is another wood working myth.

    Stropping is stropping, if you do round an edge, too much pressure and or lifted the heel. A few swipes of each side with a finish stone brings it back.

    The benefit is, it takes seconds to “touch up” an edge. Great for carving tools, fine paring with chisels or a plane iron.

    Give it a try, if you don’t have a dedicated knife/tool strop, paste a piece of cardboard or MDF with Chrome Oxide or metal polish and give it a try. Wood is much more forgiving that your face, you only need to get it sharp, there is no “comfort” involved, and a micro chipped edge can be beneficial.

    Metal polish will micro chip an edge, you would never want to shave with that edge, but will slice wood like butter.
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    Senior Member jfk742's Avatar
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    Sellers method is to use a leather strop. You’ll be forced to reset your bevels more often with chisels from rounding. For my hand planes I reset them every time, wood is extremely abrasive, especially if your working a lot of reversing type grain.

    Definitely don’t back bevel your chisels, they’ll be rendered near useless for what they are for.
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