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Chisel gets dull whilst working up through the grits

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John Brown

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It's a humorous observation. The fine workers I've met generally don't tolerate crudely sharpened tools, or their fine bits are done after the edges are used (e.g., I know a guitar maker who makes fine guitars, and uses handtools a bit, but he does all of his final fitting with router shimming, sanding finagles, etc).

It's misleading to tell someone who wants to do a lot of work (including fine work or finish fitting) to suggest:
1) that getting a fine edge is a waste of time (it's less effort in the long run)
2) it takes a long time to do it

It actually takes less time and effort to do it as well as possible, but it does require some understanding of what's going on at the edge.

A quick example - what's the difference in a stanley #4s longevity if you finish with a 4000 grit equivalent diamond hone vs. 1 micron diamonds or an inexpensive compound bar on wood (substitute the bar for stropping, same amount of time or less and never a failure to get sharpness). 50%. The latter edge will plane 1500 feet for 1000 that the former will do, but be easier to use the entire time

Does it matter if someone is not doing much finish work with hand tools, no much rough work? Probably not. When someone in that category gives advice to someone who wants to do those things, it's bad advice. It takes some experience to give it and blanket comments about what's needed or what's not with little experience aren't helpful to beginners. Cosman strongly recommending at one point that beginners should get the 30k shapton - a terrible suggestion. Really, there's no functional reason for that stone at all other than pleasure to some people. For someone else new who wants to work by hand and potentially carve, the strong assertions that going past an india stone is something pros never do - just as bad in the other direction.

Telling someone who sharpens once a month that they shouldn't use a guide? Just stupid.
What do you make, D_W?
Genuine question.
I mean I believe you make chisels, but do you make anything with the chisels?
Just curious.
 

D_W

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What do you make, D_W?
Genuine question.
I mean I believe you make chisels, but do you make anything with the chisels?
Just curious.
No, nothing, I've never made anything. I sharpen 3 times an hour just as an idle mode. You sound like Jacob, who has worked as much wood by hand in 40 years as I have in the last 4.
 

John Brown

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No, nothing, I've never made anything. I sharpen 3 times an hour just as an idle mode. You sound like Jacob, who has worked as much wood by hand in 40 years as I have in the last 4.
As far as I know, Jacob has worked with wood for a living, his whole life.
I am very much a hobby wood butcher. I'm also not proficient at sharpening, and thus I don't pontificate or try to advise on the subject. I was genuinely curious as to what you make.
 

Daniel2

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I do seem to spend far more of my time sharpening than making 😂 😂
But, that's because I'm still carp at the former and not much better with the latter.
My learning curve remains a sheer cliff face. :D😂
 

D_W

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As far as I know, Jacob has worked with wood for a living, his whole life.
I am very much a hobby wood butcher. I'm also not proficient at sharpening, and thus I don't pontificate or try to advise on the subject. I was genuinely curious as to what you make.
You can go back through my history on here and find plenty. I am a hobbyist, too. I'm either building with wood or metal, but not both at the same time. Sometimes the wood is planes, sometimes it's cabinets, sometimes it's guitars, and sometimes it's even pencils (by hand).

When I build anything of size, I'm probably sharpening something three times an hour because it usually involves little power tool use and 99.9 percent of the time, it's dry wood.
 

D_W

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By the way, we know from enormous efforts in trying to find out what Jacob does that he uses mostly power tools for the last three decades.
 

Adam W.

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By the way, we know from enormous efforts in trying to find out what Jacob does that he uses mostly power tools for the last three decades.
You seem to have a serious hang up about someone else.
 

D_W

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It's a little odd when someone follows your posts around, evades answering anything directly and then tells you that you have a hang up. If I have any hang up, it's about folks who claim to be experts, show relatively little and then assert expertise that turns out to be in conflict with reality.
 

D_W

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I'll be less oppositional - here's stuff I posted in the last year and a half or so. I was just playing a game as I generally respond with pictures, but I've noticed over time, few others do. Or the pictures don't match what they say. The stuff shown below isn't going to be what some want to see - after I talk at length at sharpening and getting results from it, what a large cohort would really like to find is that I don't make anything so they could give me a "so ha, i knew it!)


(a case that I made last year, about 90-95% made with hand tools). Before anyone gets excited (it always happens), the mrs. demanded soft close hinges, no center divider and no face frame - it's a game cabinet for the kids. I don't really care that much how it looks. I dimensioned the wood by hand. The T&G in the back is by hand (shellac, 3/4ths of a french polish), the finish is applied by hand, and the stain is earth pigments).

I guess it would be nice to build a period piece without the spouse's whims/conditions, but it's not something I need.

resawing the panels and then hand thicknessing them (these are door panels - they're matched, but not as a style statement so much as for ease, but it does look better than when they're not matched).


several planes:
https://i.imgur.com/5yacaZb.jpg (the sides, bottom and screw of this plane are from a kit, but three of the infills that I've built are scratch - kits are harder to work with, but I had them - when you dovetail someone else's machine cut parts, you don't get the room to work with that you'd like - this kit was built with width the same as the iron and the mouth goes all the way to the edge of the bottom, which is too narrow - but you work with it or make another from scratch)
https://i.imgur.com/VwbO2RQ.jpg -double ended shooting plane. Not much use for it
https://i.imgur.com/ZCIdfyZ.jpg - dovetailed skew infill shooter (works better than the above, but there isn't much shooting in anything other than small work, so it collects dust).

A pair of guitars
https://i.imgur.com/4ltc8oJ.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/LAyV1Hk.jpg
and another in solid spruce with a cherry neck.

Pencils and a few test chess pieces (that's something I haven't done more of yet - turning a chess set - at some point, I will).

A gaggle of test plane irons (third from the top is LV, though)
https://i.imgur.com/Gvt3ahv.jpg

My kitchen (though this was several years ago now - two of the cabinets in this kitchen are made entirely by hand - see if you can tell which). I fabricated the counter tops and cut and fit all of the tin (It's metallic and not fake stick on rubbish).
https://i.imgur.com/8kQM8PL.jpg

Why not make more furniture? I have nowhere to put furniture.
 
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D_W

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(you can see one my my power tool acquisitions in the last five years, though - the OSS spindle sander. If you're going to make electric guitars neatly, you'll be squaring the sides up with one of those, even if you actually cut the bodies with a turning saw and drawknife/shave and plane most of the waste off).

Chisels turn out to be more machine-dependent than almost anything else I've made other than the first 3/4ths of the kitchen cabinets. I wish I'd made them entirely by hand - it was easier (more reliable) to cut dadoes and rebates in the ply with hand tools (in this case, the dadoes are done with a sized down dado plane - if you can make planes, you can find an old dado plane and recut the nicker and narrow the entire thing to fit modern ply better than you can trying to find the right router bit with the needed relief amount.

Chisels are machine dependent (in terms of cutting the bevels after hardening) as a matter of practicality, though. You can grind them freehand, and then finish them by hand, but the grinding has always been done on powered wheels unless you use something crappy like A2 or some other alloy that's made for air or slow transition hardening and stability in heat treat. So, I've bought some power tools - just not much for the ones everyone else uses (I do like having a charged cordless drill at hand all the time, though).

20210516_201543.jpg
 

D_W

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(separately, I have met zero people who have worked entirely by hand and who don't sharpen to a relatively high standard all the time. I'm not talking about hatcheting barn beams and making youtube videos, I'm talking about the very few people who actually do or have worked entirely by hand. They will all sharpen to a fine level because it's predictable and reduces effort.

The thing between what I"m talking about and making test pieces is sticking bullheaded to some ideal like jacob talks about or actually examining results and figuring out how to sharpen finer, more consistently and with less effort. It turns out to be very simple. There are plenty who "know too much" to undertake getting better at it, but it's rarely trade carvers or others. There's another house-wright guy in the US who sees something relayed from me and he's "been doing it for 50 years" and works through some absurd full bevel 5 or 6 step process going on at length that it's faster. I have no idea why people like to cling to stupid ideas that are easy to disprove right in front of them in ten minutes. The only excuse is that there's less of the hand tooling than most people claim they're doing.
 

D_W

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I've got him on ignore but had to have a peek! I'm quite flattered - he mentions me almost everyday!
I'm not offended, Jacob. You see things as one size fits all without understanding the underlying bits that would make things better, faster, more efficient and universally understood for most people starting out. The constant nonsense droning about not power grinding or using different angles for grind and finish is bodger level stuff.
 

D_W

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Looks like some fine work there, D_W.
Thanks for answering my question.
Thanks, John - looks like I missed the pencil picture (not that it matters that much). I have a special fascination with whether things can be done by hand, or by hand and eye when it's assumed they're not, but it requires a fair bit of understanding what doing things entirely by hand efficiently means.

(my lathe is powered, though. It's not a "good" lathe, but it's powered. There's a small group of electric tools that I like a lot and won't give up - generally drilling, grinding and the spindle sander).

When cutting chisel blanks to forge, even those are cut by hand (it's quite pleasant).


I smarmed the first response because usually when someone asks that, they're looking to find leverage, and it's true that I'm no George Wilson, but not true that I don't make anything (I to tend to talk little about things I don't know much about, and a lot about the things where i sense people are being led in the wrong direction as far as effort, ease and likely success).

Thanks for reminding me that some people are just curious and won't disappear after asking that question.
 

raffo

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I like the kitchen cabinets Dave, I'm assuming the design parameters had input from the wife.
 
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JohnPW

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This is getting off topic.

And most of the replies about sharpening didn't address the OP's question anyway.
 
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