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Chisel gets dull whilst working up through the grits

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Sgian Dubh

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Work the back of the tool first on something pedestrian like an india stone, then work the bevel, then work the back again and strop.
Ah, okay, you've sort of forced me into declaring my hand, but everyone has to bear in mind that there's nothing clever or innovative about my method.

But, it's basically as you say, i.e., start with the flat side of the tool (bench chisel or plane iron) and work that a bit making sure I keep the tool flat on the stone, for which I use either the fine side of a combination oilstone or my 800(?) grit ceramic stone, whichever is to hand, then work the honing angle at a guesstimate of about 30º, then go back to the flat side again to take off the wire edge, and finally a few back pulled strokes alternating between the honing angle and the flat side, and then a bit of flipping of the tool on the palm of my hand. That's good enough for 90% of my sharpening, and I never do anything more than this for regular bench chisels.

If I want a plane iron especially sharp for a particular task, I omit the palm flipping just mentioned, and repeat the procedure above on my ultrafine ceramic stone, and nowadays (based primarily upon your writings on the topic) I stick a polishing mop in a drill, add a bit of polishing compound if needed and give both the flat face and the honing angled side a swift five or ten second buff each. It seems to work pretty well.

I like to keep sharpening of my chisels and plane irons to the 'Sharp'n'Go procedure, aka the KISS principle, and I have to admit I've never used a guide, but I'm not against guide use if that helps others to achieve success. I've just not used one myself, but that's probably because not a single person in the workshops I started out at used one either: and if I'd ever got one out I'd have probably been jeered at and called some kind of effeminate limp wristed pansy, or worse, along with other mildly humiliating name calling accompanied by somewhat irritating and underhandedly secretive sabotage of my work or toolkit. That sort of stuff was considered gentle workshop banter back then in the dark ages, but it probably wouldn't translate well into our more recent caring and inclusive times, ha, ha. Slainte.
 

Adam W.

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I'm going to have to ask, but why do you think an India stone is pedestrian ?

It reeks of snobbery.
 

Jacob

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....I have to admit I've never used a guide, but I'm not against guide use if that helps others to achieve success. I've just not used one myself, but that's probably because not a single person in the workshops I started out at used one either: and if I'd ever got one out I'd have probably been jeered at and called some kind of effeminate limp wristed pansy, or worse, along with other mildly humiliating name calling accompanied by somewhat irritating and underhandedly secretive sabotage of my work or toolkit. That sort of stuff was considered gentle workshop banter back then in the dark ages, but it probably wouldn't translate well into our more recent caring and inclusive times, ha, ha. Slainte.
The jig thing for me was nothing to do with chest beating - I just found it all so much faster/easier without, though it took some time to rediscover this simple fact.
Otherwise I do much the same, and occasionally polish on a ply disc with autosol on the out-board end of lathe.
 

D_W

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I like india stones. Quite often, the pedestrian stuff is better than the snooty stuff. The pedestrian stanley 4 is probably the best smoothing plane ever made.
 

Cabinetman

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Thanks Richard and Jacob, although I’ve never felt the need to strop I think I can manage a bit of plywood on the end of my lathe, i’ll give it a try, says Ian as if he’s being sucked into the maelstrom of sharpening wizardry and expecting to be spat out broken and twisted and full of the Evangelical zeal that inhabits large proportions of the woodworking fraternity.
 

Cabinetman

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I like india stones. Quite often, the pedestrian stuff is better than the snooty stuff. The pedestrian stanley 4 is probably the best smoothing plane ever made.
Absolutely right. I wouldn’t be without my Stanley Nr4's, I use virtually nothing else. Fettled a good bit of course.
 

D_W

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Ah, okay, you've sort of forced me into declaring my hand, but everyone has to bear in mind that there's nothing clever or innovative about my method.

But, it's basically as you say, i.e., start with the flat side of the tool (bench chisel or plane iron) and work that a bit making sure I keep the tool flat on the stone, for which I use either the fine side of a combination oilstone or my 800(?) grit ceramic stone, whichever is to hand, then work the honing angle at a guesstimate of about 30º, then go back to the flat side again to take off the wire edge, and finally a few back pulled strokes alternating between the honing angle and the flat side, and then a bit of flipping of the tool on the palm of my hand. That's good enough for 90% of my sharpening, and I never do anything more than this for regular bench chisels.

If I want a plane iron especially sharp for a particular task, I omit the palm flipping just mentioned, and repeat the procedure above on my ultrafine ceramic stone, and nowadays (based primarily upon your writings on the topic) I stick a polishing mop in a drill, add a bit of polishing compound if needed and give both the flat face and the honing angled side a swift five or ten second buff each. It seems to work pretty well.

I like to keep sharpening of my chisels and plane irons to the 'Sharp'n'Go procedure, aka the KISS principle, and I have to admit I've never used a guide, but I'm not against guide use if that helps others to achieve success. I've just not used one myself, but that's probably because not a single person in the workshops I started out at used one either: and if I'd ever got one out I'd have probably been jeered at and called some kind of effeminate limp wristed pansy, or worse, along with other mildly humiliating name calling accompanied by somewhat irritating and underhandedly secretive sabotage of my work or toolkit. That sort of stuff was considered gentle workshop banter back then in the dark ages, but it probably wouldn't translate well into our more recent caring and inclusive times, ha, ha. Slainte.
Looks good to me! The buff does wonderful things for the edge - twice at one time. Once to remove the bit that fails first and then causes subsequent failure, and second with that, to impart the most wonderful uniform polish without deflecting the edge.

I don't use the guide, as mentioned- except on a straight razor. It's hard to hone a straight razor without the guide - because it's part of the razor (the spine width is set at manufacture as a built in guide). But I'm fine with everything until someone asserts that you can't get a good edge without one, or someone else asserts that you can't sharpen with one. I like to save the jeering for people who bring a toolbox to the woods for their chainsaws instead of looking at the angle guide on the top of the tooth and pushing a file parallel to it. My dad's in that category - he hauls some thing around that looks like a dental contraption and requires two hands and a vise. The consequence is that he puts off sharpening and then punishes his saw for it.
 

Adam W.

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I like india stones. Quite often, the pedestrian stuff is better than the snooty stuff. The pedestrian stanley 4 is probably the best smoothing plane ever made.
Fair enough, you can't help yourself.

Maybe you should just call a spade a spade instead, then people wouldn't take it the wrong way.
 

D_W

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Fair enough, you can't help yourself.

Maybe you should just call a spade a spade instead, then people wouldn't take it the wrong way.
My car is pedestrian, my house is pedestrian, my favorite steel is pedestrian, my favorite stones are pedestrian. You need to look through a different lens once in a while and stop blaming other people for jumping to conclusions.
 

JAW911

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+1 for using a strop. I have been woodcarving regularly for a few months and following Doug Linker’s advice (YouTube carver) have never used a stone on my knives. Just strop every so often and look after your knives. They are ‘scary sharp’. Obviously if the blade gets damaged then stones are needed. For my woodworking chisels and irons I have a Tormek but I always use the strop wheel afterwards with green compound followed by a leather strop by hand with same. If I can shave the back of my hand it’s ready for use.
 

Jacob

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Thanks Richard and Jacob, although I’ve never felt the need to strop I think I can manage a bit of plywood on the end of my lathe, i’ll give it a try, says Ian as if he’s being sucked into the maelstrom of sharpening wizardry and expecting to be spat out broken and twisted and full of the Evangelical zeal that inhabits large proportions of the woodworking fraternity.
If you do the ply disc thing it helps to have an artists palette knife to spread the autosol. Nothing else is quite as effective. You spread it thinly and keep picking up blobs to spread, or it gets flung off the disc. Slow speed is good.
Shape the edge of the disc into a half round and use it for inside gouges
 

Lons

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It's OK I was only joking.
Gone a bit quiet over there maybe I should pop over and wake them up - shout "WAKEY WOKEY" through the letter box or something?
If that's what you were doing during your campaign door knocking it's no wonder you didn't get a result. ;)
Only joking :ROFLMAO:
 

sometimewoodworker

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I am bad at sharpening, and have undertaken making a dovetailed box, which by the time it is complete will require me to have become "passable" at sharpening.

I have 600, 2000, 4000, 8000 grit wet stones. I can freehand a bevel on the 600 grit that feels sharp, but when I step it up to the 2000 grit with a microbevel, it appears to dull the edge more than sharpen it.

I'm rather hoping this is a well understood boo boo that I'm making and somebody can give me a clear instruction for how to, um, not do it. I have of course read many instructions, and watched many videos on the topic, but the skill still eludes me.
Your experience suggests to me that freehand isn’t a good choice for you.

I know that I don’t have the skill to do freehand and can’t be bothered to gain it. Whatever people say who do have the skill it is less than easy to gain and requires constant practice to maintain.

So my answer is to totally avoid all of that Trouble and buy a high quality honing guide. I know that I will actually get sharp and a constant micro bevel.

If you are only doing chisels then you can get a little record guide
 

Blaidd-Drwg

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I second the honing guide. My experience level is that my sharpening sessions are few and far between because I do furniture restorations a majority of the time. I tried for years to get the muscle memory needed to do freehand sharpening and all I ended up with was a new ulcer.

I've used several types of honing/sharpening guides with water or oil stones and have not looked back. Someday if my furniture making becomes a larger part of my work I'll try freehanding again, but now I use the Veritas honing guide (but that is a luxury I only recently gave myself). Before the Veritas I had a couple of cheap honing guides and layout lines to show how far the blade should protrude in order to get the angle I needed.
 

Jacob

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As ever I'd say that the skill level needed for freehand sharpening is exaggerated.
How on earth did they manage for 1000s of years before the honing jig fashion kicked in only 40 years ago or so? It was usually learned in a few hours in week one.
Woodwork itself is much more demanding than sharpening a few chisels, which is about as easy as sharpening a pencil.
I think the jigs make it more difficult and the idea that sharpening is difficult becomes a self confirming - to be rapidly followed by purchase of a different jigs, alternative stones, glass plates, expensive diamond plates, and £100s spent in no time for no real benefit.
 
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Just4Fun

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If I had a honing guide, I'd never be able to find it.
Yeah, tell me about it. I have a honing guide and I usually use it but sometimes I cannot readily find it so on those occasions I sharpen freehand.

It remains a mystery how I can find my sharpening stones yet not find my honing guide. A related mystery is how I later find the guide just next to my stones.
 

Jacob

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Yeah, tell me about it. I have a honing guide and I usually use it but sometimes I cannot readily find it so on those occasions I sharpen freehand.

It remains a mystery how I can find my sharpening stones yet not find my honing guide. A related mystery is how I later find the guide just next to my stones.
I've got two in a drawer. I can honestly say I have not used either of them for years but I know where they are. Well where they were last time I looked.
 

TheTiddles

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Sounds like a technique problem to me, try practicing more till the problem isn’t there or use a grinding guide and get there now.

Aidan
 
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