Review : Chisel and Plane Sharpening - Peter Sefton

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ScaredyCat

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Full disclosure: I was offered this DVD at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

The Internet is a wonderful place, there's a wealth of information for people wanting to learn a new skill. The problem is, as a beginner, there's no way to tell who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't. Bad advice is worse than no advice. The only way to be sure you're getting good advice is to get it from someone who depends on those skills day in and day out. Even better if you can find a Master Craftsman to teach you.

How lucky we are that we have one then.

I'm new to woodworking and there's a thread I started where I'm trying to establish if I have a badly sharpened chisel, just a bad chisel or a lack of skill. So I was pleased to be offered the chance to watch "Chisel and Plane Sharpening" by Peter Sefton. This is DVD 4 is a series of 5 taking you through timber selection, preparation, grinding, sharpening and hand plane use and selection. I opted for the digital download version because I have a fast Internet connection (it's around 5GB to download) and I was eager to get my hands on it. I think I'd ordinarily opt for the actual DVD because I like having a physical thing rather than a digital one - strange for a software developer perhaps. Cost is £18.99 for the digital download version and £19.99 for the DVD. The video played with no issues using VLC or Quicktime on my Mac and playback works fine under Windows and Linux too. The runtime is 2 hours, 21 minutes (and 55 seconds).

The production values are great both the video and audio are clear with copious use of close up shots where required. Presentation feels like a one to one lesson rather than being "talked at" and there's a nice bit of history thrown in at various stages.

The crucial thing about any training video is the imparted knowledge. Peter takes you through the process of sharpening chisels and planes, explains the different types of stones and films that you can use to do so. There's a nice section on testing how sharp your chisel is without having to shave your arm and how to check your plane by looking at the shavings generated. The video is split into seven sections, the first five are background and introductory information, such as how to go about flattening chisel backs. The last two cover the sharpening, chisel first then plane.. There are some interesting snippets of information, for example, I wouldn't have known that some chisel manufacturers put a laquer on the back of their chisels to prevent rust or that you need to remove it before you start.

I really liked the explanation of the chisel steels what sort of prices you'd pay for the different types and the pros and cons of each with a good explanation of the benefit of flat lands for nice, tidy dovetail work. There's a good emphasis on getting consistency with your sharpening regardless of the system you use and there's no pressure to upgrade to expensive equipment. Indeed in the summary Peter says "All of these systems work, the main thing is to get a system and work with it...".

Unlike some training videos there's no hard sell here. The video isn't Peter trying to sell you stuff from his shop, it's Peter giving you information you need to get on with sharpening your tools and doing the thing you want - woodworking. I came away from the video feeling that I'd learned a lot and actually that Peter would be an interesting chap to have a conversation with. He seems very down to earth.


Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and as some of you are already aware, I went from this:

(sorry for quality of the first picture)

chis1.png


to this:

ps_chisel1.png


ps_chisel2.png


Which demonstrates that I did actually learn something, the chisel is fine and I lacked the talent.

If you're new to using hand tools then I'd thoroughly recommend this DVD.

:D
 

G S Haydon

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Peter comes across brilliantly and as you point out has been at the sharp end of woodworking at many levels. Although I've not seen it I'd imagine it would be a great starting point for a beginner.
 

PalmRoyale

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ScaredyCat":uwbko2wv said:
with a good explanation of the benefit of flat lands for nice, tidy dovetail work.

I swear you Brits and Americans are the most dovetail obsessed people on the planet.
 

D_W

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PalmRoyale":2ha61yeb said:
ScaredyCat":2ha61yeb said:
with a good explanation of the benefit of flat lands for nice, tidy dovetail work.

I swear you Brits and Americans are the most dovetail obsessed people on the planet.

Some of us like to cover them up with a moulding. But they are nice as a joint that will hold well on a case without the need to purchase anything other than wood and glue.
 

bugbear

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ScaredyCat":3cbybatc said:
Which demonstrates that I did actually learn something, the chisel is fine and I lacked the talent.

Don't knock yourself.

I'd say you lacked knowledge rather than talent, and a video gave you knowledge.

(I don't know of a video than can give talent. :( )

BugBear
 

Phil Pascoe

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"There are some interesting snippets of information, for example, I wouldn't have known that some chisel manufacturers put a laquer on the back of their chisels to prevent rust or that you need to remove it before you start." - ScaredyCat

Off tack a little, but how many people think to take the lacquer off hardpoint saws? The Stanley ones and the finer toothed ones benefit greatly from having it removed.
 

bugbear

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phil.p":1xhdqo4b said:
"There are some interesting snippets of information, for example, I wouldn't have known that some chisel manufacturers put a laquer on the back of their chisels to prevent rust or that you need to remove it before you start." - ScaredyCat

Off tack a little, but how many people think to take the lacquer off hardpoint saws? The Stanley ones and the finer toothed ones benefit greatly from having it removed.

I've seen site chippies turn up with 5-packs of hardpoint saws (which are often on offer from tool suppliers). They don't bother removing the lacquer. :D

BugBear
 

Peter Sefton

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ScaredyCat":20aozmvv said:
Full disclosure: I was offered this DVD at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

The Internet is a wonderful place, there's a wealth of information for people wanting to learn a new skill. The problem is, as a beginner, there's no way to tell who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't. Bad advice is worse than no advice. The only way to be sure you're getting good advice is to get it from someone who depends on those skills day in and day out. Even better if you can find a Master Craftsman to teach you.

How lucky we are that we have one then.

I'm new to woodworking and there's a thread I started where I'm trying to establish if I have a badly sharpened chisel, just a bad chisel or a lack of skill. So I was pleased to be offered the chance to watch "Chisel and Plane Sharpening" by Peter Sefton. This is DVD 4 is a series of 5 taking you through timber selection, preparation, grinding, sharpening and hand plane use and selection. I opted for the digital download version because I have a fast Internet connection (it's around 5GB to download) and I was eager to get my hands on it. I think I'd ordinarily opt for the actual DVD because I like having a physical thing rather than a digital one - strange for a software developer perhaps. Cost is £18.99 for the digital download version and £19.99 for the DVD. The video played with no issues using VLC or Quicktime on my Mac and playback works fine under Windows and Linux too. The runtime is 2 hours, 21 minutes (and 55 seconds).

The production values are great both the video and audio are clear with copious use of close up shots where required. Presentation feels like a one to one lesson rather than being "talked at" and there's a nice bit of history thrown in at various stages.

The crucial thing about any training video is the imparted knowledge. Peter takes you through the process of sharpening chisels and planes, explains the different types of stones and films that you can use to do so. There's a nice section on testing how sharp your chisel is without having to shave your arm and how to check your plane by looking at the shavings generated. The video is split into seven sections, the first five are background and introductory information, such as how to go about flattening chisel backs. The last two cover the sharpening, chisel first then plane.. There are some interesting snippets of information, for example, I wouldn't have known that some chisel manufacturers put a laquer on the back of their chisels to prevent rust or that you need to remove it before you start.

I really liked the explanation of the chisel steels what sort of prices you'd pay for the different types and the pros and cons of each with a good explanation of the benefit of flat lands for nice, tidy dovetail work. There's a good emphasis on getting consistency with your sharpening regardless of the system you use and there's no pressure to upgrade to expensive equipment. Indeed in the summary Peter says "All of these systems work, the main thing is to get a system and work with it...".

Unlike some training videos there's no hard sell here. The video isn't Peter trying to sell you stuff from his shop, it's Peter giving you information you need to get on with sharpening your tools and doing the thing you want - woodworking. I came away from the video feeling that I'd learned a lot and actually that Peter would be an interesting chap to have a conversation with. He seems very down to earth.


Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and as some of you are already aware, I went from this:

(sorry for quality of the first picture)

chis1.png


to this:

ps_chisel1.png


ps_chisel2.png


Which demonstrates that I did actually learn something, the chisel is fine and I lacked the talent.

If you're new to using hand tools then I'd thoroughly recommend this DVD.

:D

Hi Scaredycat

Thanks for the comprehensive review, the section in the video showing ways of testing how sharp a cutting edge is - something I feel is important until woodworkers get a natural feel for how sharp tools can be. Using blunt tools is a thankless task :cry:

Cheers Peter
 
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So from what I understand, the DVD goes through many different systems for sharpening, so what did you use to get those results? and what do you think was gained from the video as opposed to someone using the sharpening system without the aid of the video?
 

D_W

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When I look at the first picture, I still see a chisel that could be viably sharp. We all have to do what we need to do to get the results we want, and the proof is in the using at the bench, so if the second works a lot better, it's an improvement.
 

Peter Sefton

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phil.p":1rpmmcez said:
"There are some interesting snippets of information, for example, I wouldn't have known that some chisel manufacturers put a laquer on the back of their chisels to prevent rust or that you need to remove it before you start." - ScaredyCat

Off tack a little, but how many people think to take the lacquer off hardpoint saws? The Stanley ones and the finer toothed ones benefit greatly from having it removed.


We always take the lacquer of the quality dovetail and tenon saws we see in the workshop.

I have never done it to a Jack type handsaw for site work, in-fact I almost feel they benefit from the extra rust protection, and as the writing wears off it's a crude indication of the saws sharpness level before being downgraded to cutting plasterboard or plastic plumbers pipe. I have not used the hardpoint back saws for years so can't comment on those.

Cheers Peter
 

ScaredyCat

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Sorry I didn't see this until just now.

transatlantic":7qko23ra said:
So from what I understand, the DVD goes through many different systems for sharpening, so what did you use to get those results? and what do you think was gained from the video as opposed to someone using the sharpening system without the aid of the video?

I used an Eclipse style guide:

eclipse.jpg


and some Bearmoo sharpening stones.

bearmoo1.jpg
bearmoo3.jpg



I have all of these things before I saw Peter's DVD which is why I used them. I'm not convinced by the Bearmoo stones it seems rather easy to get cross contamination. I'll look at the scary sharpening stuff at a later date. I found the Eclipse/Delta guide very difficult to set right until I followed the advice to make a simple board to use for lining up.

What did I gain? Pretty much everything I needed. I had no technique and no real idea what I was doing. As I said initially you can watch a lot of Youtube videos* of people showing you how to do something, but you'll only find out how good they are at it through your own trial and error. That's not entirely helpful. If you can start from a position of "I know that this person makes their livelihood from woodworking and has been doing, and teaching, for a very long time." you can trust that the information is accurate to start with. I've never really worked with my hands. Well, obviously I use my hands but none of this real hand working. I develop software so typing is about as handy as I get. So without the video I might have eventually got the information I needed, got to the state I needed or just made do. With it, I know what I'm supposed to be doing, where I need to be at the end and how to get there - and from a trusted source. Whilst I got a copy for free, under £20 for guaranteed accurate information is good in my book. I've spent more than that on useless junk before :)


*No disrespect intended, there are some fine craftsmen and women with on Youtube.
 

Jacob

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ScaredyCat":1bdnljro said:
......
chis1.png


to this:

ps_chisel1.png


ps_chisel2.png


Which demonstrates that I did actually learn something, the chisel is fine and I lacked the talent.

If you're new to using hand tools then I'd thoroughly recommend this DVD.

:D
So if you've learned to make a very tidy looking bevel but there's nothing in your photos to show that the tidy one is any sharper. OK bevel in the first one looks as though it might be more than 30º, which isn't good, but is easily remediable without necessarily being more cosmetic! Not lack of talent just lack of practice. There's more to sharpening than just looking neat and tidy.
Given equal sharpness at the edge the first one will cut better as it has a bit of polish on the bevel.
 

Peter Sefton

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Jacob

The cutting edge was improved and shown in the most important way, the quality of the cut as shown on page four of the original post, Cut and pasted below although the pictures shows it off better.

bridger wrote:
OP- did upping your sharpening game solve the fuzzy sapelle problem?


I think the answer is a resounding yes (any dodginess is due to lack of talent, not the tool)


If you look back at the original post you may notice the biggest improvement on the chisel is on it's back, not the bevel. Good sharpening is the combination of both faces coming together to produce a sharp edge and the chisel will only be as good as the poorer element. You have soooo much to learn, would you like free copy :roll:

Cheers Peter
 

Jacob

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Thanks for the offer but no, I really have no problem sharpening at all!
What page 4?
I agree that the burr needs taking off the face, plus a tiny bit of hone/polish both sides as per his first pic, but not second, which looks decidedly un polished.
Just having a neat bevel doesn't make a sharp chisel
 

Jacob

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phil.p":hjw3bh08 said:
Peter Sefton":hjw3bh08 said:
If you look back at the original post you may notice the biggest improvement on the chisel is on it's back ...

The back???? :lol:
He means the face :lol:
 
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