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Tools: Fewer but more expensive, or more but cheaper?

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M_Chavez

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My 5p:

Saws: either buy jap saws (rutlands stuff seems to work as well as anything) or restore a cheap western oldie from ebay. You'll need to learn how to sharpen them anyway, so might as well do it now. Can even get a Dissy on the cheap.

Chisels: Ashley Iles. Simply exceptional chisels and reasonably priced. Also narex if you can find them cheap - these are great for jobs where you don't want to use your AI. I used to buy Narex at about £6-8 a chisel and they seem to have really gone up in price over the last few years. Also, a lot of them are now sold from China which makes me wonder if they are still made in CZ (?).

Workbench: use whatever you can until you know what you'll be mainly working on, then build to suit your needs.

Hand planes: Quangsheng will get you started on the right path, but shop around. They seem to have gone up in price too recently.

Combi squares: Bahco.

As some folks said here, cheaper doesn't always mean bad, and expensive doesn't always mean better. A good tool is a sharp tool, and I find it easier to have more tools than I "need" and sharpen them in one go, but that does mean that a fair % of them spend time sitting on the shelves until I go on another mass-sharpening spree.
 
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M_Chavez

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but that can hold an edge
By all means avoid rubbish steel that can't hold an edge.
But I'm not sure just how much edge retention matters once you reach a certain level of quality. Softer steel = easier to sharpen. QS T10 & Narex steel is a lot softer than, say AI or Ron Hock, but in practice I find it just as easy& pleasant to use.
Just stop & strop or sharpen more often but spend less time sharpening. Also, stropping softer steel gets it back to razor-sharp a lot easier than harder steels.
I've got a mujingfang blade in a home-made radius plane and that is approaching the lower threshold of usability for me, but I've seen worse irons in some old St*nley jobbies, and many folks seem to swear by them.
 

Spectric

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Something I am not to experienced with is sharpening using a strop, seen a butcher use one and my grandad but not me, perhaps I am missing something.
 

pe2dave

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Something I am not to experienced with is sharpening using a strop, seen a butcher use one and my grandad but not me, perhaps I am missing something.
Well worth learning IMHO. I take a 'reasonable' edge from the fine diamond plate and the strop* finishes it, burnishes it and leaves a 'cut paper' edge.
Minor edit. The action is 'wiping' the primary bevel along the stop, then raising it slightly (call it a micro bevel if you want) to add that last edge. Less than a dozen strokes usually brings back an edge.

*Strips from a cheapo leather apron, double sided tape onto MDF, in the vice. 'Green' burnishing compound as for buffing wheels.
 
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M_Chavez

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Something I am not to experienced with is sharpening using a strop, seen a butcher use one and my grandad but not me, perhaps I am missing something.
There's 3 elements to getting an edge, really - shape the whole thing into a pointy bit (can be done on an old-school grinder with a decent wheel), then sharpen the edge of the pointy bit (usually that's up to 1-2mm from the edge) (I use abrasive paper on a piece of glass, but anything goes), then get the edge itself razor sharp (if it's good enough to shave with, you're almost there). The last bit can be done on a strop - as Dave has pointed out, just a strip of leather. I don't even glue mine to anything - just put in on the bandsaw or planer table and strop on it. I've switched to veritas green compound - the stuff seems to be better than anything I've used in the past.
I don't think there's any skill to stropping, but I've been doing it for about 15 years, so it might be just muscle memory working.

Of course, one can do all 3 in one go, grinding away at the blade, but that's a lot of extra work, because you only need to do step 3 regularly to maintain the sharp edge. Then occasionally do step 2 when the strop starts rounding the edge. Step 1 is only needed if you damage the blade.
 

Jacob

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There's 3 elements to getting an edge, really - shape the whole thing into a pointy bit (can be done on an old-school grinder with a decent wheel), then sharpen the edge of the pointy bit (usually that's up to 1-2mm from the edge) (I use abrasive paper on a piece of glass, but anything goes), then get the edge itself razor sharp (if it's good enough to shave with, you're almost there). The last bit can be done on a strop - as Dave has pointed out, just a strip of leather. I don't even glue mine to anything - just put in on the bandsaw or planer table and stop on it. I've switched to veritas green compound - the stuff seems to be better than anything I've used in the past.
I don't think there's any skill to stropping, but I've been doing it for about 15 years, so it might be just muscle memory working.

Of course, one can do all 3 in one go, grinding away at the blade, but that's a lot of extra work, because you only need to do step 3 regularly to maintain the sharp edge. Then occasionally do step 2 when the strop starts rounding the edge. Step 1 is only needed if you damage the blade.
I rub mine up and down (and round and round) on a medium oilstone (Norton 1B8) at about 30º , until there is a burr. Then ditto on a finer stone alternating turning it bevel down then face down to remove the burr, several times.
Quite energetic and fast - dipping as you go to make a rounded bevel because it's easier that way
Sometimes go the extra step on to a piece of leather with autosol or similar.
I got rid of a lot of modern sharpening kit, jigs, diamond plates, Pro edge etc as I don't really need them.
Back to basics, quicker, easier, cheaper, and if you do a little and often, also sharper.
 
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