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kayak23

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Firstly, apologies as I'm sure sharpening has been done to death, but my question I hope is a little different.

I work as a technician on a furniture course at a college and am constantly trying to improve and streamline the way we do things. Something that is a constant source of frustration for me is our sharpening systems and the result we get.

Although of course we look at sharpening in detail in both practical sessions and also in theory, its very difficult to stress its importance to people with very little experience and have that translate into actions.

Our paring chisels seem to shrink at an alarming rate as I inspect them and find all manner of multi-faceted bevel angles, rounded and softened bevels and horror of all horrors, BACK-BEVELS!... :evil:

We have racks of tools including about 16 chisels each of popular sizes, mortise chisels and also many planes of different forms.

Things have improved slightly recently as we have gone from the old days of freehand-sharpening and then re-grinds on an abrasive wheel all too often, to the use of the Tormek system and the Eclipse-type honing guides to hone blades inbetween use.
We also used to practise a primary bevel angle of 25 degrees on our chisels and then a honing angle of 30 degrees. I believe this used to confuse students and the chisels were always a huge mess so I suggested sticking to a single angle of 25 degrees all the way, hopefully to reduce time between re-grinds. This has improved things quite a lot but we still get quite a lot of facets on the chisels I think due to the difficulty in matching the angle off the Tormek to the angle with the Eclipse guides, despite the use of blocks screwed down used to set the correct projection. They just don't seem to tally up.

Basically, the problem of trying to get in excess of 70 students per week, all reading from the same page with regard to sharpening and reducing wear on the tools and time lost sharpening which could be spent making is a difficult one.

I've looked at various other honing guides as I don't find the eclipse ones very well made and they don't seem to hold our chisels all that flat. If there is any room for something to be used incorrectly or broken then one of the students will eventually find it.

I've recently looked at the Veritas MkII guide as it seems very good quality with a nice wide wheel, but although in my own workshop I think it could be used with great results often, to try and get 70 students of differing ability to all remember the correct sequence right away is perhaps a bit too much.

I was wondering then, if anyone had any ideas which we could employ that would be ultra simple, provide a good and repeatable result with accurate bevel-angles and not cost the earth! :shock:
 

Jacob

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kayak23":10qrnhpp said:
....... we still get quite a lot of facets on the chisels I think due to the difficulty in matching the angle off the Tormek to the angle with the Eclipse guides, despite the use of blocks screwed down used to set the correct projection. They just don't seem to tally up......
:lol: :lol:
This is the basic jig problem in a nutshell i.e. matching the firmly held edge with the honing/grinding medium or machine, whatever it is. Then having to take off quite a lot of metal to make the edge meet the medium, or having to flatten the medium to help it meet the edge.
I'd get everybody to freehand hone at 30º, which avoids the problem above, with occasional grinding on a wheel or belt sander to speed things up. This way they take control and learn a useful skill for life. It might take some time to get them going properly (a few hours), but well worth it even in the short term.
Very unfashionable!

Perhaps you as technician do all the grinding, but insist that they as woodworkers do all their own honing as an essential aspect of normal woodworking. They'll soon crack it once they realise how much easier and better it makes the woodwork.
 

woodbloke

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Firstly I'm surprised that you supply the planes and chisels for the students to use, unless I'm reading it incorrectly. I would have thought that they would have had to supply their own tools (I had to as a student)
Your situation is a difficult one, because it's very difficult to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet without ownership. In other words, if it's someone else's chisel...you don't really care as long as it will cut..just!
Despite what others will advocate :roll: :roll: freehanding with a bunch of newbies is only going to compound the problem and I suspect you'd end up with tools that are in a far worse condition than at present.
I don't think that there's an easy way round your problem...certainly the VMkII is a good piece of kit provided it's use correctly by all, emphasize the all, but I do think that whatever strategy you come up with, the answer lies in educating the students, say in groups of ten at a time, on the right way to get a decent edge on chisel and plane blades. Your task won't be an easy one and as an ex-woodwork teacher in mainstream education, I know what you're up against - Rob
 

EddieJ

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Perhaps you should look closer to home and teach the students to use them properly.
 

LuptonM

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Whats the sharpening medium that you use? I take it that you supply the tools because your students are young (ie under 21). If they are older they should buy and look after their own (they'll learn more as well)

The work-sharp sharpening system could be worth a look for mass sharpening
 

kayak23

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woodbloke":2j8i16d2 said:
Firstly I'm surprised that you supply the planes and chisels for the students to use
Offering full-time, part-time and evening classes as we do, and students often coming directly from school, it is an initial cost that some just will not bear, perhaps even put off those that are teetering in interest.


EddieJ":2j8i16d2 said:
Perhaps you should look closer to home and teach the students to use them properly.
Clearly you have little experience of instructing large groups, teenage to pensioners in a subject with a large degree or even overload of initial information.
Of course we teach them, but if you'd like to re-assess the tone of my post, I stated that what works for an individual, does not tend to work for 70-odd students with limited workshop time during days and evenings throughout a week.

If you can manage to embed every little important detail about many, many different things into fresh first years in the first or second week of their courses then perhaps you should look to employ your obviously far superior skills into educating the next generation. Otherwise perhaps keep your comments to something you know a little about.

Thanks all others for your help so far.
 

kayak23

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LuptonM":38nheia8 said:
Whats the sharpening medium that you use? I take it that you supply the tools because your students are young (ie under 21). If they are older they should buy and look after their own (they'll learn more as well)

The work-sharp sharpening system could be worth a look for mass sharpening

We used to use DMT diamond stones but are recently trying Axminster stones which are larger. We use Eclipse honing guides and Tormek wetstone.

Age aside, asking students to buy their own tools when starting a course at the level this is aimed at (often complete beginners) will just put many off I'm afraid. Lots of people are tight in money and looking to retrain and so are not in a position to shell out on tools until they assess their own suitability.
 

bugbear

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kayak23":whf7lhzw said:
...to the use of the Tormek system and the Eclipse-type honing guides to hone blades inbetween use.
We also used to practise a primary bevel angle of 25 degrees on our chisels and then a honing angle of 30 degrees. I believe this used to confuse students and the chisels were always a huge mess so I suggested sticking to a single angle of 25 degrees all the way, hopefully to reduce time between re-grinds. This has improved things quite a lot but we still get quite a lot of facets on the chisels I think due to the difficulty in matching the angle off the Tormek to the angle with the Eclipse guides, despite the use of blocks screwed down used to set the correct projection. They just don't seem to tally up.
That's odd. If the projection blocks were all set the same, the honing (assuming the students actually use the blocks...) will always be at the same angle for any given chisel (you get a tiny variation between chisels with blade thickness, but it's small enough to be ignored).

I realise that the Tormek will give you a hollow grind (which can be exploited for one of the techniques used to bring some control to hand honing), but as long as the grinding provides clearance for the higher angle honing, it doesn't matter wether the grind is flat or hollow.

Regardless, there should only be ONE grind angle (facet) and ONE honing angle (facet), even if they don't "tally up".

(I'm not sure from your description - do the students do grinding as well as honing, or is grinding reserved for technicians?)

It sounds to me as if the students are ignoring what they've been told (for whatever reason) and hence using "other" techniques, probably poorly.

Is there a "how to" poster/illustration/graphic at the honing station?

BugBear
 

LuptonM

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The eclipse guide is pretty poor at holding chisels in my opinion (though some people have modded them). The veritas is pretty good, but its over engineering makes it a little slower to set up. With all things, its best to try before you buy so see if anyone near you has one.

The richard kell guide no2 is also good but because of the wheels its better for scary sharp. You have to make a projection guide for this though its no problem
 

Jacob

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It's so obvious that they should be taught the simple trad freehand way.
It's the basic essential skill which precedes planing, marking and everything else.
Is the cheapest "system" and is not difficult .
They can then do it at home with just a single, 2 sided, cheap oilstone, instead of spending silly money on jigs and machines. Can they afford a veritas jig each? £50+ each before you add the accessories.
By all means let them have a go with modern gadgetry but they need to be equipped with the basics as an absolute priority, even if it takes hours out of their first weeks. But it won't take very long if taught properly.
It's a no brainer.
The only alternative I can think of, as you can't do it yourself, is to send them off to a specialist and have several duplicate sets always in circulation.
 

LuptonM

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Hey Jacob have you tried free handing wide blades (ie plane irons) side ways? You have better control on keeping the bevel flat this way as the honing force is perpendicular to edge direction
 

Jacob

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LuptonM":2n266lk7 said:
Hey Jacob have you tried free handing wide blades (ie plane irons) side ways? You have better control on keeping the bevel flat this way as the honing force is perpendicular to edge direction
I do them all ways, to spread the wear evenly.
 

woodbloke

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kayak23":356187dl said:
We used to use DMT diamond stones but are recently trying Axminster stones which are larger. We use Eclipse honing guides and Tormek wetstone.

Age aside, asking students to buy their own tools when starting a course at the level this is aimed at (often complete beginners) will just put many off I'm afraid. Lots of people are tight in money and looking to retrain and so are not in a position to shell out on tools until they assess their own suitability.
I can see the jist of your arguement now regarding students owning their own tools and clearly they're all newcomers to the game. It's also apparent that there are registration problems in using the Tormek for the primary grind and matching it up every time...it's OK to do that in your own 'shop but not in as a constantly changing group.

I'm not even going to look at suggestions proffered by a certain member :roll: 'cos I know the tone of their content, but here's something that might be worth considering.

Make up four honing registration blocks (like small bench hooks), two at 25deg and two at 30deg and make each pair identical. Use the 25deg blocks with a very coarse DMT and a VMkII honing guide for prepartion of the primary and do the same with the 30reg block, another VMKII and an Extra Fine DMT (the green one) so now you have two honing stations, one for the primary bevel and one for the honed bevel. Total expenditure is then four DMT's and four VMKII's, giving two sharpening guides per station.

Now here's the important bit!

Seperate the two sharpening stations by at least 20' (so there's no confusion) in the 'shop and clearly label, in big, bold, easy to read, different coloured letters what each station does and then colour code each of the bits of kit at each station with the same colours.

I appreciate that's it's a simplistic idea but I reckon that anything more complex is going to fail - Rob
 

Harbo

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The Kell II is probably the most foolproof guide to use especially with a simple projection stop guide.
When setting, the blade sits on the rods and is gripped by its sides.

Is the Tormek being used to practice grinding because you really should not have to grind that often?

Rod
 

kayak23

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Jacob":1s8vhtzx said:
It's so obvious that they should be taught the simple trad freehand way.
It's the basic essential skill which precedes planing, marking and everything else.
Is the cheapest "system" and is not difficult .

they need to be equipped with the basics as an absolute priority, even if it takes hours out of their first weeks. But it won't take very long if taught properly.
It's a no brainer.
Thanks, I didn't really want to start a thread about teaching techniques, just getting some tips from similarly experienced people hopefully.
I fully appreciate your view and agree with it also but with experience, 16 year olds can present problems in terms of attention span and spending two weeks going over sharpening a chisel I can see putting a few off.
In our experience its better to give them a solid grounding and then re-affirm this grounding over their time with us. New students want nothing more than to 'get stuck in' and make something.
Hence, my question, which is essentially about wanting to get folks opinions on getting everyone reading from the same page so that those very enthusiastic students can spend more time making things and less time fixing the mistakes and bad sharpening practises of the students at college the day before.... :D
 

woodbloke

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Harbo":1kyulcln said:
The Kell II is probably the most foolproof guide to use especially with a simple projection stop guide.
When setting, the blade sits on the rods and is gripped by its sides.

Rod
Agreed Rod, but the KII is best suited to the SS format (unless a very wide stone is used) which may not suit the OP's situation...also the KII needs to be drawn backwards for the most effective use, which might be a bit strange to newbs - Rob
 

barkwindjammer

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Take any student, any age, any ability
a 'flat' 2 sided stone-marry these up with a 'flat' chisel/iron face (back)
allow them to 'freshen up' the edge regularly on its back only. Easy peasy with chisels
You get to take care of the bevel side, once in a blue moon (your students haven't messed this side up),
result= a gradual, non destructive progression for the student, nicely formed bevels (done by you), and the student will learn how to dismantle and assemble a plane quickly in between 'freshening'.
A butcher keeps his fillet knife razor sharp with regular 'freshening', as does a barber with his 'smiley' and strop.
No jigs, no angles, flat on flat, the more promising students can be shown how to care for the bevel side, and the chimps left to do the simple stuff.
seemples
 

kayak23

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barkwindjammer":2f1ne7jp said:
Take any student, any age, any ability
a 'flat' 2 sided stone-marry these up with a 'flat' chisel/iron face (back)
allow them to 'freshen up' the edge regularly on its back only. Easy peasy with chisels
You get to take care of the bevel side, once in a blue moon (your students haven't messed this side up),
result= a gradual, non destructive progression for the student, nicely formed bevels (done by you), and the student will learn how to dismantle and assemble a plane quickly in between 'freshening'.
Thanks, I like the idea of that in many ways. Do you find this still produces as good an edge?
I think the issue may be that we need to teach how to do it properly so that they can walk away with the skills to do their own, and also that needs to be balanced against the desire for less 'down-time' spent regrinding chisels which have been innocently or otherwise, mistreated.

I've been looking at that Dakota guide but can't see that there is any way that you set up a repeatable projection or angle on it. Does it work on projection from the body?
I guess a simple angled wedge could be made to rest the blade on while its fitted into the guide perhaps...
 
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