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sharpening for beginners

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andyacg

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i hate to re-open the great sharpening issue, but i could do with some direction. are there any decent books or sites that start from the ground up as i am the proverbial blank slate as far plane blade honing goes. i have recently invested in an old ws no 4 plane to flatten the top of my " in construction " bench and would like to be able to sharpen and maintain it myself. any tips would be gratefully recieved. cheers all.
 

Richard T

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Hi Andy - the thing to aim for is a flat (shiny flat) flat side and a bevel of about 30 degrees that meets it. Work the bevel till you have a burr on the flat side and take it off cleanly.

It's how you go about it and what else to add (or not) that no one can agree on.

I should just pick a means of abrasion - water stone/oil stone/diamond stone/fancy sharpening thing, and just get on with practising. I'm sure most people hereabouts have tried most things in efforts to find the best for them, even if it has been at open days and demonstrations meaning they could have a go without having to buy the kit to try it - good sharpening stuff ain't cheap, especially if you don't get on with it.
There is a lot to learn when starting, and it's really something that has to be learnt by doing rather than reading ... you can't learn to swim by reading a book... or at least I wouldn't recommend it. :)
 

wcndave

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There are loads of videos out there, and websites that talk about this, aimed at all levels.

in general you could do worse than:

1. check out workshop heaven videos by matt on scary sharpening (bit of up front investment, however clean and fairly idiotproof)
Video series
Scary sharp guide
2. look on the worksharp site for the WS3000 for a fairly quick way I use this when doing tools that i do not need to sharpen expertly, but rather want them very very sharp ;-)
3. oilstones
4. waterstones
5. diamond stones
6. tormek type sharpening

Google and yourtube them all and once you have specific questions, ask away. asking "what sharpening method" is a bit dangerous here...

FWIW i use:

worksharp for daily use on rough chisels, knives etc
scary sharp (kit from WSH) for fine chisels and planes
tormek for turning tools
grinder for chipped tools to save time
diamond stone for when i am working away from workshop

take yer pick ;-)
 

Jacob

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andyacg":1zs0sx3o said:
i hate to re-open the great sharpening issue, but i could do with some direction. are there any decent books or sites that start from the ground up as i am the proverbial blank slate as far plane blade honing goes. i have recently invested in an old ws no 4 plane to flatten the top of my " in construction " bench and would like to be able to sharpen and maintain it myself. any tips would be gratefully recieved. cheers all.
Paul Sellers does a youtube demo here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvTcReENk9g and also describes it in his book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Working-Wood-Ar ... 0956967302
A very good book for beginners, probably the best IMHO but a bit pricy. Not many around 2nd hand yet. He's particularly good on sharpening, including saws, scrapers etc.
 

dunbarhamlin

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Find someone local to you who can show you their method. No approach takes more than ten minutes to learn and a couple of days on the job to get to reasonable working sharp (then longer to get to wicked sharp of course.)
Then close your ears to all and use that method aand that method only for six months. You'll then have a decent base for comparing other approaches if you feel the urge to experiment.
 

Richard T

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dunbarhamlin":2hdoshl4 said:
Find someone local to you who can show you their method. No approach takes more than ten minutes to learn and a couple of days on the job to get to reasonable working sharp (then longer to get to wicked sharp of course.)
Then close your ears to all and use that method aand that method only for six months. You'll then have a decent base for comparing other approaches if you feel the urge to experiment.
=D> =D> =D>
 

Cheshirechappie

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When all is said and done about sharpening, there's usually a lot more said than done.

Sharpening is actually fairly simple, but like a lot of simple activities, it can take a bit of practice before it 'clicks'. Once it does click, you're away; you'll get workable edges without much effort - but you'll get better and better with practice.

Two books often mentioned are 'Sharpening: The Complete Guide' by Jim Kingshott, and 'The Complete Guide to Sharpening' by Leonard Lee. I think both are out of print, but you'll find copies on the secondhand booksites such as www.abebooks.co.uk at sensible prices.

If I were starting again, I'd buy a combination oilstone, 8" x 2" coarse/fine (Norton do a good one), a tin of 3-in-1 or similar thin oil (paraffin if you can get it), and a tupperware-type plastic box to keep it in. If you want to use a honing jig with it, that's fine - personally, I hone jigless because it works OK for me. For grinding, I'd snaffle a hand-crank grinder from Ebay (if you can get a 6" one, great - replacement wheels will be easier to obtain - but don't worry too much, you'll have to do an awful lot of grinding to wear a wheel out). Later, if you want really refined edges, make a strop from a piece of leather glued to a piece of wood and dressed with jeweller's rouge, chromium oxide paste, Solvol Autosol metal polishing paste or similar very fine abrasive. A perusal at Youtube as suggested above will indicate how to use these three techniques. With a bit of practice (and it does need a bit of practice), you should be able to maintain decent edges quite easily, and this set-up will do you for most chisels and plane irons, and other bits and pieces like scrapers, marking knives and so on.

That's probably the least expensive way to get started. But - that's just my answer. If you feel you want to do things different, that's fine! There are many, many ways to a workable cutting edge, and the only 'right' one is the one you're happy with, and works for you.
 

woodbrains

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Hello,

Have not read any books purely about sharpening, so cannot recommend any. I cut my teeth sharpening on oilstones and these can be great, but mostly use waterstones at the moment. Also tried ceramic and diamond stones and scary sharp methods. All useful and can get the results you are after. The problem is, you probably don't know what you are after. Almost without exception, beginners do not know what truly sharp is and how much more wonderful a truly sharp tool can be. What you are looking for is as close to a mirror polish on 2 intersecting planes and at no point can you see where these planes meet. Recognise that and you will be making super sharp edges. It is this fact that opens up sharpening to you, not so much the method. Knowing what you are looking for in a sharp edge is the crucial thing and possibly the hard part; rubbing the blade on abrasive is actually easy when you know what the goal is.

IMO combination oilstones are not fine enough and will confound you. You really need another finer step after the fine side of these. I know some here will disagree, but you have to trust me, it really is not good enough. Stropping after the combo oilstone won't do it either, I'm afraid, as the leap in grit size is too great. Stropping is fine, but you still need the finer stone beforehand. Being economical is a good thing, but you have to acheive what you want, not fall short with the excuse that it doesn't cost much. If you want to use oilstones, and I don't blame you if you do, they are very good, you will need a Hard Black Arkansas, or better yet, a Transluscent Arkansas and then the strop. Unfortunately, the Trans Arkansas will be expensive, though will see you grandkids out. It is a good solution.

My advice for economy would be: P150 wet and dry on glass for primary bevel; combo 1000/ 6000 Japanese stone from Axminster (£31) Axminster deluxe honing guide (£11). Cheaper you will not find for getting razor sharp and fast. Gets you working wood without the pfaff.

I would also advise that you get a longer plane for flattening your bench. It is the reference surface from which you will plane components from and you cannot plane anything flat on an unflat surface.

Mike.
 

bugbear

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dunbarhamlin":3val99mp said:
Find someone local to you who can show you their method. No approach takes more than ten minutes to learn and a couple of days on the job to get to reasonable working sharp (then longer to get to wicked sharp of course.)
Then close your ears to all and use that method aand that method only for six months. You'll then have a decent base for comparing other approaches if you feel the urge to experiment.
Too sensible for words.

BugBear
 

Jacob

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bugbear":1ga1eq5f said:
dunbarhamlin":1ga1eq5f said:
Find someone local to you who can show you their method. No approach takes more than ten minutes to learn and a couple of days on the job to get to reasonable working sharp (then longer to get to wicked sharp of course.)
Then close your ears to all and use that method aand that method only for six months. You'll then have a decent base for comparing other approaches if you feel the urge to experiment.
Too sensible for words.

BugBear
Dunno there are some over enthusiastic sharpeners out there just waiting to lead you up the garden path!
I'd keep it simple; double sided oil-stone as suggested by cheshirechappy. Has served millions of woodworks well in the past and is cheapest/simplest. You can always move on and make it more complicated, but it'll always be useful as a standby.
Ol stones aren't really compatible with bought jigs as they eventually wear a bit hollow - hence all those long posts about "flattening" stones. But you are better off without jigs and all their problems. A few simple home made ones are handy though - such as a piece of 2x4" with a saw kerf to hold a spokeshave blade. Lots of variations possible.
 

Jacob

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woodbrains":3vrqubmq said:
......
I would also advise that you get a longer plane for flattening your bench. It is the reference surface from which you will plane components from and you cannot plane anything flat on an unflat surface.

Mike.
Yes you can. The "reference " for your flat surface is straight-edge, winding stick, eyeballing the length etc. It doesn't matter what is going on underneath as long as the piece is held.
 

marcros

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surely planing the first side of a board flat is doing so from a non flat surface, compensated for by wedges etc?
 

bugbear

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Jacob":d6ms43a8 said:
woodbrains":d6ms43a8 said:
......
I would also advise that you get a longer plane for flattening your bench. It is the reference surface from which you will plane components from and you cannot plane anything flat on an unflat surface.

Mike.
Yes you can. The "reference " for your flat surface is straight-edge, winding stick, eyeballing the length etc. It doesn't matter what is going on underneath as long as the piece is held.
A flat rigid support is needed for fine workpieces thin enough to flex.

BugBear
 

andyacg

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all responses very much appreciated chaps, plenty of food for thought. i think woodbrains hit the nail on the heed, i really dont know what truly sharp is. i do know a retired bench hand joiner that i can drop in on for a sharpening demo. i was looking at paul sellers lamination method for a bench top so i will post some pictures as soon as im there. thanks fellas.
 

Jacob

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bugbear":r5tlb510 said:
Jacob":r5tlb510 said:
woodbrains":r5tlb510 said:
......
I would also advise that you get a longer plane for flattening your bench. It is the reference surface from which you will plane components from and you cannot plane anything flat on an unflat surface.

Mike.
Yes you can. The "reference " for your flat surface is straight-edge, winding stick, eyeballing the length etc. It doesn't matter what is going on underneath as long as the piece is held.
A flat rigid support is needed for fine workpieces thin enough to flex.

BugBear
What if the reverse side of the workpiece is not flat?
Yes obviously a flat surface helps in general, but talk of "reference surfaces" is pseudo science. Even "fine workpieces thin enough to flex" don't need to be "flat", as they will flex and will be pulled into shape by the construction process whatever it is.
 

Jacob

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andyacg":19cyxhx8 said:
all responses very much appreciated chaps, plenty of food for thought. i think woodbrains hit the nail on the heed, i really dont know what truly sharp is.
But you don't know what "excessively over sharpened" is either.
do know a retired bench hand joiner that i can drop in on for a sharpening demo. .....
Good idea. A working joiner should have a sensible view. No guarantee though - he might have been bitten by the crazy-sharpening bug!
 

bugbear

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Jacob":3vaqgn63 said:
Yes obviously a flat surface helps in general, but talk of "reference surfaces" is pseudo science. Even "fine workpieces thin enough to flex" don't need to be "flat", as they will flex and will be pulled into shape by the construction process whatever it is.
Not sure what you mean by pseudo science. That's normally applied to homeopathy and dowsing.

This is simple mechanics.

It's not straightness in the workpiece that causes the main trouble.

It's thickness.

Consider trying to plane something down to 1/4" on a bench with a 1/8" concavity in length...

If the bench were flat, and the ends were 1/4" thick, and a #6 or #7 were used, the middle of the work would be 1/4", or near enough for a practical man.

But a 1/8" concavity in the bench would result in a workpiece 50% too thick in the middle.

Timber framers probably don't know this!

BugBear
 
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