Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, CHJ, Noel, Charley

By bp122
Before I'll be judged for mentioning the word "easy", I do not mean it in terms of effort required. It is to understand what works for most people in my shoes (hobby woodworker, beginner, use hand tools as much as possible and not rely on machine tools) to keep their hand planes and chisels sharp for long, without having to spend most of the available woodworking time sharpening the tools and not being able to do anything with it!

I understand there are about 14 million types of products for sharpening (hyperbole is a casual concern!) blades and chisels.

1. Diamond plates: Reviews on websites (amazon or ebay or even axminster) are very hard to rely on - as some mention the diamond plates working well (but have not used it for long enough to have a valid opinion) the others mention that the diamond has eroded away (despite buying their best range of plates)

2. I also wonder if I should consider a bench grinder to do most of the rough work and use a fine sandpaper and strop to finish it off.

3. Or go Paul Sellers route and use three grits of sandpaper and then a strop on a hard flat surface - which sounds very simple and cheap at first, but it could also be false economy if need to sharpen the bits arise more frequently.

Too many options, way too many opinions and no closer to a solution!

Please share your experience to a beginner in me!
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By nev
bp122 wrote:....
Too many options, way too many opinions and no closer to a solution!


And you're asking for more!

Use the advance search facility above for any and all sharpening methods and save the members who's method of sharpening is better than anyone else's arguing with each other.
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By Ttrees
IMO It depends on what you wish to do with them.
Do you wish to lap the backs of old plane irons that's really pitted?
Then you need a flat plate and sandpaper to flatten and polish the back of the irons....
Or start with those cheap aggressive credit card diamond hones that ED65 advises, and put them on, or glue'em on a flat surface, and work through the grits, you could get many as they are very cheap, like a few quid each.

Are you going to use a honing guide for the bevel?
A diamond hone will not wear like a oil/water stone will if you are using one, makes sense if your just using one to get to know what sharp is.
The diamond hones are handy for taking inconsistencies out of the equation,
A lump on your stone might drive you nuts if your working on fettling the cap iron to mate up with the iron.
For instance a flat honed iron cant be just rubbed on a dead flat surface with the end result being needs to be hollowed slightly with technique like honing off the stone.

I still think Ultex diamond hones are really good value if they're still on half price offer, much cheaper than the equivalent
Faithfull hones that are also bonded to a hefty nickel plate.
Don't think there is any ebay/ali express/banggood hones bonded to a nickel steel plate, but I could be mistaken.
Thats what I would get if I had the mula, as the chunky diamond hones are less faff.

In my experience, the diamonds wont shear off, unless you are working up the sides of a plane iron and are not aware of whats going on.
Or you are lapping oil or water stones .

I would look for a washita if you go to markets for your bevel work in future.
I like to use an oilstone before the diamond hone I have which is a good bit finer than the Ultex ones,
Although if you use the Ultex for lapping a plane iron or two it would get a lot finer, and probably not be very fast anymore
which will give a better polish to your irons eventually.

By Jarno
I use waterstones, about 15euro on Aliexpress, works fine, I have a 1000/4000. And recently bought a 5000/10000 stone and a 240/400. You'll also need a stone to flatten them.
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By Trevanion
phil.p wrote:Oh. how I miss BugBear's little popcorn eating gif. :D


I've begun shifting away from waterstones, diamond plates and about every other method of sharpening towards natural oilstones, dead easy to use and very quick once you've got a bit of free-hand technique going. Not to sound like Jacob of course! :lol:
Last edited by Trevanion on 11 Oct 2019, 17:27, edited 1 time in total.
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By Jacob
Easiest, cheapest, quickest by far, is trad oil stone, free hand, as used by everybody, everywhere, probably as far back as the stone age!
There's no money in it for tool dealers (stones last for years - usually life) so they tell you it's difficult and try to sell you a lot of 'helpful' gadgets and other alternatives.
The vogue kicked off big time relatively recently. Gadgets have always been around for the amateur "gentleman' woodworker but very uncommon, even 50 years ago.
PS you can make your own gadgets for little blades hard to hold, such as this one post1311591.html?hilit=paraphernalia#p1311591
Last edited by Jacob on 11 Oct 2019, 17:40, edited 1 time in total.
By samhay
bp122 wrote:...
3. Or go Paul Sellers route and use three grits of sandpaper and then a strop on a hard flat surface - which sounds very simple and cheap at first, but it could also be false economy if need to sharpen the bits arise more frequently.

I thought he was an advocate of diamond plates, which are low maintenance and certainly don't need flattening (no idea how you'd sharpen them).
For what little it's worth, they are my recommendation.
By D_W
6" grinder with any decent rest, and one or two stones. That's it.

The grinder should do the heavy work, if you're using two stones, the first should raise a wire and the second should refine what the first has done, working only the back and biasing a slightly higher angle than the first stone on the bevel side so as only to work a tiny amount.


It really doesn't matter what the stone is if using two stones, but a single medium diamond stone and a fine oilstone make a great combination. If you're limited to one stone, something like a (real) washita is a good choice.

My cycle time with any kind of plane iron (alloyed or not) is about 1 1/2 minutes total. Chisels are less. It takes very little time to master this method, and since you're biasing stones toward only the edge of the blade, you'll eliminate the problem that most people probably have with sharpening - failure to leave a uniform edge at the very tip because they are working steel that doesn't need to be worked.

This doesn't need to be an expensive or difficult process, nor one where the items used need all kinds of maintenance and care. Just keep dirt from settling on the stones, use lubricant once in while if they've loaded or to prevent them from loading and avoid gimmicks (like diamond honing fluid or water based rust preventer or any of that other idiotic stuff).

The method that sellers uses is foolish - avoid it.

As you're getting used to the method, sharpen twice as often as you think you need to. It'll get you repetitions, and also show the value of using sharp tools and double your chance of working with them in case every other repetition is flawed.

if you manage to chase your final bevel steep one way or another, refresh the grind and continue on.
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By Jacob
I'd agree with D_W
Popular alternative stone is the Norton India double sided. It does need freshening up often - something to remove embedded bits n bobs. I use a coarse 3m diapad because I happen to have one, but other things will do it.
A magnet is good for removing swarf and they do need flooding with oil, not just a trace.
Stones don't ever need flattening if you use them properly - spread the load. A bit of a dip is fine as blades need a camber anyway.
PS an easy system improves the quality of work and the pleasure in doing it. Nothing worse than having to stop and fiddle about with an expensive jig covered in brass knobs and a users' manual. OK you will get it sharp but you will be put off repeating the operation to keep it sharp. The worst problem with jigs is that they only work on flat stones - hence the frequent mention of "stone flattening", a tedious and wasteful operation which otherwise is simply not necessary.
PS I forgot to say - if you are beavering away planing surfaces, chopping mortices, getting a job done etc sharpening needs to be quick and easy like sharpening a pencil for an artist, so you can keep going (and keep sharp) without too much interruption. Trad sharpening does just that.
Last edited by Jacob on 11 Oct 2019, 20:42, edited 1 time in total.
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By Ttrees
My oil stone is only getting flat now, and finally becoming easier to get the camber I need.
Might be drifting off topic here, but its happened already.
After all it is a sharpening thread :P

Very difficult to get a tiny camber for zero tearout performance quickly on interlocked timbers, don't know if it would be possible with a jig on any diamond hone or stone.
Try getting speedy repeatable results on a stone with a dish or high spot, you won't be able to, if you intend to have a perfect camber of a 64th of an inch or even less if the timber is not cooperative at that setting.
Talking smoother settings here, and not a moderate cap iron setting between a 32nd and 64th of an inch on the same timbers if you have a stock that's not somewhat close to finished dimentions.

And back to what's probably more relevant to the OP's question again.
I wouldn't want to be starting off without a flat stone or whatever, as it would make fettling the cap iron a nightmare
You have to know what your mistakes are, and that's no help if you can't figure out if its your technique or other factors that is the culprit
of a non mating cap iron.
Therefore I think the diamond stone is the winner by a long shot for said reasons, but also because the OP might not have space in the shed to have a dedicated place for stones....yet!
I like to have my setup two steps away from the work, and in an unorganised workflow or small space might get knocked onto the ground.

Never used a magnet for swarf as I never seen a wire edge left on my washita or soft arkansas.
Do you use both sides of the India stone Jacob?
I don't think I've ever heard anyone else mention this, sounds interesting.

By phil.p
Do you use both sides of the India stone Jacob?
I don't think I've ever heard anyone else mention this, sounds interesting.

It isn't. It's groundhog day. :D