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Just bought a new Axminster 5 1/2 Jack plane..

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HomeyJay

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Hi all. Just looking for some advice really.
I’d like to order a set of sharpening stones / whetstones for the plane but I’m not really sure what to order to get the best out of my plane and keep that blade sharp.
Can anyone with more experience suggest which grit stones I need to order from Amazon please?
 

John15

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I use 800, 1200 and 6000 grit waterstones with good results. They are King brand from memory from Axminster I think. There are a number of other methods and mostly equally as good (or bad?) so as they say 'you pays your money and takes your choice!'

John
 

Droogs

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can I have some of your popcorn phil :) cant wait for Jacob and DW to see this one
 

Orraloon

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I was shown how to sharpen on an oilstone way back at school woodwork and stuck with it ever since. That said 2 years back I got a 2 sided diamond plate and feel sure if they had been around back in the day then that's what we would have been instructed on. Pretty well foolproof with a honing guide. Woody2Shoes list is the way to get started. Simple and not expensive
As this a sharpening question there will be plenty other suggestions as there are plenty of ways to get there so pulling up a chair for the show. Save me some popcorn too.
Regards
John
 

Rich C

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Why use diamond stones and sandpaper? The whole point of diamond stones is so you don't need to muck about with sandpaper. Given the price of the ultex stones I can't see a good reason to spend £22 on sandpaper (which will last a few months at best) when you could just get a stone for that (which will last years).
 

Fitzroy

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I have the Ultex stones, happy with them as a product. They often have them on special offer. Upside for me is they don’t need flattening like a natural stone, downside is they have lost some of their aggression over the years.

People will shoot me down but hey ho. I also use a Veritas honing guide to get new blades/irons set up. I find it very helpful for getting a straight perpendicular edge and constant angle. Hand touch ups until I want to reset when it’s back to the guide.

Fitz.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Over the years, I've tried several methods of sharpening. The common factor between them was that they all worked. They all had advantages and disadvantages, too, so the 'right' way for me might well not be for someone else.

I started with an oilstone - the ubiquitous Norton India 8" x 2" combination stone. I used it with 3-in-1 oil and an Eclipse honing guide. I didn't get on with the guide (some people do, some don't), and ditched it fairly quickly. One downside of the man-made oilstones is that they're porous, so they absorb oil. They then leak it again in storage, contaminating whatever they're sat on.

Water stones were very fashionable in the woodworking press around that time, so I thought I'd give them a go. King brand stones, a middling grit one and a 6000 grit 'Gold' stone. This taught me what a truly sharp edge was, and how much easier a lot of woodworking is when tool edges have them! It was truly a revelation. Sadly, however, water stones need water, and quite a lot of it - if you can set up a separate sharpening bench with a source of water (sink, bucket, whatever) and means of keeping things managed, water stones are fast-cutting and give good edges, but if you have to sharpen on the workbench, as I did, they are just too messy! Some waterstones are quite soft and wear quickly, needing regular flattening. That's easy if you're set up for it, but again, at the bench, it's a messy job.

So I tried Spyderco ceramic stones, instead; a medium and an ultra-fine. Expensive in first cost, and a bit slower cutting than the oilstones and water stones, but they gave excellent edges. The manufacturers say you can use then dry, but I found they worked best with a few drops of water having a bit of Fairy liquid to kill the surface tension, otherwise they tended to clog and glaze; you can clean then with a pan-scrub in the kitchen sink, but used lubricated the problem is pretty much eliminated. They come in plastic holders, which catch the drips off the sides nicely, so they're much more bench friendly. They don't need much storage space, either.

More recently, I've gone back to the India combination (now kept in a thick plastic bag!) supplemented with an Inigo Jones slate hone, both of which I use with mineral oil, and the slate is used rather like a strop - only draw edges back, not cutting on the push stroke. It's simple, bench friendly, and I don't have water near my tools. The Inigo Jones gives me even better edges than than the watersones did, though it's slow cutting - it's just for the final polish of an edge, not for 'metal shifting'.

All this is done freehand. There's a (long, bitter, rumbling) debate about whether it's better to use a honing guide for repeatable and predictable results, of freehand for speed and versatility. The answer is that only you can decide. The guides give a degree of certainty for the beginner, but add an extra cost and a bit of time to the sharpening task, freehand is quick but takes a bit of practice to achieve good results every time. There's no 'right' answer - though some will insist that their way is 'right' and anyone disagreeing is 'wrong', and post comments to that effect repeatedly and at length - hence the 'popcorn' comment early in the thread. (Quite a few of the forum regulars regard sharpening threads as very dangerous places to go, these days, sadly, because of the attitudes of a few sharpening zealots.)

I haven't tried diamond stones or 'scary sharp' lapping films, but both methods work, and work well, and have their own devotees. Don't dismiss them - though they too will have their own pros and cons.

Two other things I haven't mentioned so far are grinding and stropping. Sooner or later, you'll need to consider grinding, and that's a bit of a minefield too. I think I've rattled on long enough, though.

There's plenty of information on sharpening out there (books, blogs, YouTube), probably more than enough to confuse the beginner and frighten them witless. Don't be disheartened by it - sharpening is basically a fairly simple process, though like just about everything else in life, it does take a bit of practice to become confident. It's worth the patience and practice, because once you can keep sharp edges, woodworking becomes much easier!

Good luck!
 

ED65

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As you can tell from the above comments sharpening is a can o' worms here. But I didn't realise until I read a well-regarded book on the subject that it's been a contentious issue for many more years than this forum has been around.

So UKW is just another battleground in an ongoing war between different camps, each of which can have very entrenched defenders. There's really no need for argument though, if certain individuals could just accept that there are multiple good ways to do it, these threads would go a lot better. Especially when there's little or nothing to choose between them in terms of results. The only real differences are in cost (up front or ongoing), upkeep (if any) and the personal preferences of the respective users.

There is a difference in speed, but honestly it's not enough to concern anyone; this is even in a production environment, so certainly not for the home woodworker.

HomeyJay":1j46bm1s said:
Can anyone with more experience suggest which grit stones I need to order from Amazon please?
My first bit of advice would be don't order from Amazon, order directly from China where the products are generally made. This has certain advantages, you'll pay less (sometimes much less) for exactly the same in many cases, and you don't give any more money to Bezos. You'll usually still be able to avail of free shipping, just have a longer wait.

And, the 11-11 sales in AliExpress are just around the corner :D

So what grits do you need? Cue the arguments. Everyone has their preferences, peccadillos and, frankly, their own mythologies on this as much as on any aspect of sharpening.

I'll try to briefly summarise my thoughts:
  • Make a honing guide and use it initially. Work towards being able to freehand sharpen in the coming weeks and months BUT don't sweat it if you can't master it or don't care to.
  • Buy diamond plates in two grits only, very coarse and very fine; everything in between doesn't give you any benefit. In other systems it's important to have one or two medium-grit honing surfaces, that's not necessary with diamonds because they cut so well.
    I would suggest 150 or 200 grit and 1,000 for a beginner. Expect to pay less than four quid for each.
  • Make a strop, or just grab a small offcut of MDF and use that. Then if you don't have a suitable metal polish in the house buy compound or metal polish to use on it. That'll be about another fiver.
And that's it, you're set for now with a total spend of under £15.

You don't need a grinder now; they're useful to have in a workshop but for routine sharpening you actually may never need a grinder unless you take up woodturning where one is essential.
 

Rich C

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Good tip on the Chinese plates, I ordered two (80 and 180 for rehabilitating ebay finds) from aliexpress for $6 today.
 

MikeG.

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ED65":3enm55uy said:
.....[*]Buy diamond plates in two grits only, very coarse and very fine; everything in between doesn't give you any benefit. .......
Not sure I agree with this. The coarse stone I have (300) is way too coarse to use for touching up a decent edge which just needs a quick sharpen, but is critical for restoring trashed edges (other people's kit, or newly acquired tools). It leaves really big obvious scratches, which would take forever to polish out on the extra fine plate. With stuff I have sharpened before I just use a medium (600) and an extra fine (1200), so for a beginner, if you are sharpening from new (rather than restoring trashed edges), then I'd just go with 600 and 1200 (medium and extra fine). I hope I've remembered those numbers correctly.
 

D_W

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Pick any method that will allow you to do three things:
* grind a tool
* refine the grind to a finer bevel or a secondary bevel
* polish the back and edge of an iron

It really doesn't matter what method you choose, but if I were to be stripped of all but two stones, I'd probably have a 1000 grit diamond stone (doesn't need to be expensive) and a natural washita stone on the finer side.

If you're starting by using a guide, you won't prefer most vintage stones, as they're narrower than irons (intentionally, to keep them flat across their width without subjecting the user to constant maintenance), and such a thing isn't favorable when using a sharpening guide.

I started with waterstones, have probably bought and sold more than 300 stones over the years (to support my habit - I sharpen everything I can find, from wood tools, to scythes to straight razors), and they are the typical first choice for users because they work well with a guide and can usually be flattened easily - and can be found in a format as wide as most irons you're likely to use.

I don't prefer them at this point (and work mostly by hand, even for rough work - I want a sharpening method that's quick and doesn't add another step - caring for the stones before or after using them), but I doubt most hobby woodworkers ever get past the point of sharpening smoothing planes and bench chisels, and if that's the case, they're fine indefinitely.
 

ED65

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MikeG.":jm1v87bv said:
The coarse stone I have (300) is way too coarse to use for touching up a decent edge which just needs a quick sharpen...
Agreed, there's just no need to use a coarse or coarse-ish plate for normal honing (why I don't like Paul Sellers's advice to always use the full progression of plates, that should be completely unnecessary for normal edge wear). It would be different if we were talking oilstones.

For years now I've done my day-to-day honing on a 1,000-grit plate, plus stropping as needed.

MikeG.":jm1v87bv said:
[the 300] leaves really big obvious scratches, which would take forever to polish out on the extra fine plate.
I don't find this to be the case with the way I hone. When I want to do any major work (reprofile or establish a new primary, square up an edge, introduce or increase camber quite a lot) I use a 150 and have no difficulty going straight from that to the 1,000; it takes me all of 8-12 back-and-forth strokes to take out most visible coarse scratches, but I do then work longer (appox. 30 secs a side) chasing the burr and this helps ensure all trace of them is removed. I should probably mention this is nearly all on plain carbon steels, except for CrV no modern alloys and no exotics.

I'm doing a convex bevel on most things so just favour the leading edge; it would work even better for someone using a primary/secondary. On the back I concentrate effort at the tip, only caring about the final 2-3mm, and similarly this would work even better if using the ruler trick.

So for routine sharpening basically I now use 150- and 1,000-grit plates plus stropping, and nothing else. Stuff in the mid range (of which I have plenty, in oilstones and diamond plates) has basically all become redundant.
 

pollys13

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Have you checked your plane? I bought a couple Rider Planes one was a N0 6 and the other a number 5 jack .I had to return them both, as soles not flat and other issues. I then bought a Quangsheng No. 6 from Workshop Heaven, lovely, quality tool, cost a fair bit more £175, not buying one every week, so fair enough, should last a lifetime, half the price of the much more expensive brand planes, lot of users say just as good.
 
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