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By ED65
#1116524
I mentioned something about this in another thread last week and had been thinking about starting a thread to see if there were viable alternatives out there that were similar in price or possibly even cheaper.

My candidate is an inexpensive 1000-grit diamond plate and a loaded strop. All in you're looking at under a tenner.

I got the diamond plate from AliExpress specifically to see how it compared other honing surfaces I have. It turned out to work great and it very soon occurred to me that it could be a standalone honing option if need be. Being diamond it's aggressive enough to hone quickly even on harder steels but fine enough to leave a good usable edge (obviously it'll wear in and become finer with use as all diamond plates do). By itself it works well enough, but combining it with a loaded strop I think would cover the needs of almost all users as long as they're not wedded to working on stones.

The strop can be anything you like, from the surface of MDF or planed hardwood to some random bit of leather or tough cloth stuck to a scrap of plywood or chipboard. For the compound any fine metal polish, cutting compound/scratch remover, Chromium Oxide crayon or commercial honing block will do.

Strop: free.
Compound: £5 or less.
Diamond plate: I paid € 5,51 for mine, they're currently at €3.84 which is £3.30 at current exchange rates. Link here.

Here's my plate:

Image

I just checked back and I've had it longer than I thought, very nearly a year. It's had light but regular use, mostly used dry but occasionally with white spirit as a lubricant.

So what would your cheap-as-chips honing setup be, bought new? Can't be anything that relies on boot-fair finds; if you're lucky enough to have any good car boots near you there's a good chance you could pick up a great old oilstone for 50p to a couple of quid of course, but that sort of thing is out of reach of anyone living elsewhere.
By lurker
#1116531
Wet and dry. £2.60 for 10 sheets 180 grit
Glued to a scrap of MDF
Stick a whole sheet, leave to dry and then cut the board into three long sections
I use spray evostick

The sheet will wear quite quickly and can then become a finer grade until it's just a strop
By woodbrains
#1116562
Hello,

With sharpening stones, the old adage applied here: you can have any 2 out of the three! Cheap, fast but not good; cheap, good but not fast; or fast, good but not cheap. TBH only the last 2 are worth a punt and when you get serious only the last one.

Sharpening really is a means to an end, and what counts has nothing to do with cost. Get the edge you want quickly but don't take cost cutting shortcuts and dupe yourself into thinking you've done what you need. Go through the grits, just the same as you would if sanding, don't skip a grit.

1000 grit followed by a strop is ultimately flawed, all you are actually doing is polishing the tips of very rough peaks; this is not the same thing as sharp!

Mike.
By D_W
#1116564
dollar store aluminum oxide hone (literally $1) and autosol on MDF. Not as convenient to use as pricier setups, but works fine. The only thing the stone lacks is it wasn't soaked in oil, and could stand to be stuffed with petroleum jelly.

I hung a hair on the edge of a chrome vanadium chisel with that setup. It took a couple of minutes to get to that point, but it's doable.

( a setup like this isn't ideal for flattening new or old tools, but on amazon over here, a psa roll of porter cable paper is about $12 delivered - 4 inches wide and 10 yards long. The cheap stone can pick up where it leaves off. ).
By JJ1
#1116587
My current set-up users wet & dry paper on a piece of glass and after seeing them mentioned on this forum, a £5 double-sided Trend diamond stone.
The glass cost nothing (I found it) but I have bought a piece in the past for £5, about 10mm thick and cut to any size I wanted.
I've just replenished my stock of wet & dry. Total cost (inclusive of shipping) was just under £24 for 4 sheets of 120, 240, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 3000, 5000, 7000. I cut the sheets into thirds so this little lot will last me many years. I also have some Veritas honing compound on a thick piece of leather and on a piece of 18mm MDF. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't, after reading it can actually be detrimental to the edge and round it over very slightly. Would it really even do anything after coming from a piece of well-used 7000 grit wet and dry, I've no idea? I'm very satisfied with the sharpness achieved.
One mistake I made initially before the purchase of the diamond stone was spending too long replenishing an edge using too fine an abrasive. It gets there in the end, but talk about wasting time and unnecessary work :roll: . I now prefer to sharpen more regularly and quickly bring back a slightly dull edge, rather than wait till it's very dull. If it has become very dull then I find a few strokes on the diamond stone, before moving on to the wet and dry, very fast and effective. I use an Eclipse honing guide and one thing I've learnt is it's better just to take several light backward strokes on the 3000, 5000 and 7000 grit wet and dry, rather than frantically going back and forwards and ripping the paper, which seems to be much more fragile than the coarser grits. I also use a spray bottle with washing-up liquid/water as the lubricant.
I will probably buy another couple of diamond stones when they're on offer.
Last edited by JJ1 on 01 Jan 2017, 11:52, edited 2 times in total.
By JJ1
#1116611
Hi Derek,

I used to use most of them. I had four grits on each side of a glass plate. Now I've got the diamond plate, I tend to use that (600 grit on one side, I believe) to achieve the wire edge, then just use the 1000, 3000, 5000 and 7000 wet and dry. I'm still very much a relative novice to all this sharpening malarkey, compared to many here :) so I dare say some of the grits aren't totally necessary. But for the minimal cost involved I thought I may as well stock up. Despite what it sounds like, it doesn't take me long to sharpen even though my secondary bevels are much larger than perhaps they should be.
I'm only woodworking as a hobby so don't have any time restraints, so if it takes me a couple of minutes to sharpen as opposed to a few seconds, it's not an issue. In fact I quite enjoy a relaxed sharpening session at the end of the day and the satisfaction of knowing all the tools are ready for the next use :)
By Cheshirechappie
#1116650
I'd agree that abrasive papers stuck to wood or glass is the way when faced with the need to go maximum Scrooge.

However - one step up, here's what I'd do.

First, a Norton combination oilstone, coarse/fine, £24 from Classic Hand Tools - https://www.classichandtools.com/acatal ... tones.html

Then, an Inigo Jones slate hone, £6-95 plus postage - http://www.inigojones.co.uk/products/Honing-Stone.php

Then, home-made wooden boxes for both, and a bottle of baby oil, cheapest you can find in the nearest supermarket.

Next, a selection of wet-and-dry papers in various grits up to about 2000 from Halfords, or cheaper if you can find them, and sticks of various shapes and sizes to fit odd-shaped edges such as in-cannel gouges, curved plane irons and so on - make up as needed.

Finally, a piece of thin leather glued to a slip of wood, undressed, used for stropping. (That's the posh version - most chisels and plane irons can be stropped on the palm of the hand, though the leather is a better bet for very narrow ones. Don't ask how I know that.)

That just leaves grinding, and here I'm going to cheat, and buy a 6" hand-crank grinder from a well-known interweb auction site, and a new white coarse grit wheel. With a home-made toolrest, you're all set. If you want to be really comprehensive, add a couple of thin wheels and a wheel-dresser, and dress them to a round profile on the edge. You can now regrind in-cannel gouges and hollow plane-irons.

Add a small square to check edge straightness and squareness, and a bevel angle gauge made by marking different angles on a piece of cardboard and cutting them out with scissors, and there's not much in the woodworking edge-tool arsenal that you couldn't sharpen.

(Actually - that is pretty much what I use, these days. I do have an old Tormek 7" grinder - it started as an 8" but it's diminishing rapidly - which sees some use when the mess can be tolerated, but that's about it. The old Norton Waterstones I used to use are in storage, not because the oilstones are better, just because they're less messy. I've also used ceramic stones, which are very good but not quite as quick as the oilstones. I've not tried diamonds or lapping films.)
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By ED65
#1116688
Thanks gents. Some very inexpensive options there!

Anyone new to the idea of using abrasive papers for sharpening and/or honing, it's often referred to as the Scary Sharp system these days although the idea goes back to long before that was first coined (earliest reference I've been able to find is from the late 40s or early 50s IIRC).

It can work really well but the standard objection is that while it's initially cheap over time you end up spending more than if you'd opted for oilstones, waterstones or diamond plates. Given a long enough timeframe abrasives will always work out to be the most expensive option, except possibly when compared to something like a Tormek :lol:
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By ED65
#1116694
woodbrains wrote:With sharpening stones, the old adage applied here: you can have any 2 out of the three!
I agree in the principle generally but I'm sorry, sharpening is one case where you can tick all three boxes.

woodbrains wrote:Sharpening really is a means to an end, and what counts has nothing to do with cost.
Steady on there, different standard for different people Mike! The kind of guy who would hunt through the summer for a bargain old oilstone at a car boot, and begrudge paying more than two quid for it, would have a very different perspective on this.

woodbrains wrote:Go through the grits, just the same as you would if sanding, don't skip a grit.
Sharpening isn't sanding and honing isn't sharpening.

Saying it's necessary to work through the grits conflicts with most of the historical practice I'm aware of and the advice in older books based on it. I'm sure you must know that it wasn't uncommon until recent times to have just the one oilstone in the workshop, and it would rarely have been double-sided! After the stone, as Hayward and some other writers refer to, some users felt the need for a strop but not all.

There are no end of posts here saying the same thing, including many in recent months talking about setups built around single stones, which stones make the best contenders for this, whether you need a strop etc. My suggestion here is merely a version of that, continuing a long tradition.

woodbrains wrote:1000 grit followed by a strop is ultimately flawed, all you are actually doing is polishing the tips of very rough peaks; this is not the same thing as sharp!
I think you might want to leave some room for me having noticed if I wasn't able to turn a burr after 11 months of using the thing Mike ;-)

This is a 1000-grit diamond plate Mike, not at all the same animal as P1000 wet 'n' dry which is what I presume you're using as a base of reference.
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By ED65
#1116700
D_W wrote:dollar store aluminum oxide hone (literally $1) and autosol on MDF. Not as convenient to use as pricier setups, but works fine. The only thing the stone lacks is it wasn't soaked in oil, and could stand to be stuffed with petroleum jelly.
Any plans to try filling it?

I have a spare oilstone that came as part of a set I got as a present, as it's one of those bone-dry porous SiC stones I was planning on doing it with that and comparing the stone's performance with a similar/identical one that's already part of my user collection. Just want to knock up a box for it before I do the impregnation as it might end up as a dust magnet.

D_W wrote:I hung a hair on the edge of a chrome vanadium chisel with that setup. It took a couple of minutes to get to that point, but it's doable.
FWIW on the various things I've tried this with (various carbon steels, old and new, and one or two modern chisels in CrV, a couple of small things in HSS) I can usually turn a burr in about ten strokes.
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By custard
#1116701
ED65 wrote:Anyone new to the idea of using abrasive papers for sharpening and/or honing, it's often referred to as the Scary Sharp system these days although the idea goes back to long before that was first coined (earliest reference I've been able to find is from the late 40s or early 50s IIRC).


I'd be interested in seeing that reference. I'm sceptical because the quality of sandpaper available to the home woodworker in the 40's and 50's was pretty rubbish, surely that would have made any sandpaper based sharpening system equally poor? Looking through "The Woodworker, The Charles Hayward Years", I can't see any reference to abrasive paper based tool sharpening, nor in Bob Wearing's "The Essential Woodworker".

Looking back over the really significant innovations to small scale furniture making since I began in the 1980's, I can only think of three.

Affordable routers, vacuum bag veneering/laminating, and excellent quality abrasive papers.

Anyone with a long enough woodworking memory will recall the dreadful "glass paper" that was still being sold into the 1990's; grit that fell off the paper and embedded itself in the workpiece, inconsistent grit size, backing paper that was forever tearing, and abrasive particles that went blunt after a few seconds of use. It's difficult to imagine such shoddy materials being of much use against tool steel. Comparing that with the amazingly effective abrasives available today is why I put sandpaper amongst the most important innovations of the past forty years.