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--Tom--

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tom many thanks for pointing me to dieter scmidt. these have a large selection including sigma.
It’s worth reading up on Sigma as the different types are intended for different things, pretty sure it’s on Stu’s tools from Japan website.

Shame you aren’t closer or you could come and try some of my finer stones. As you will have done all the work to get sharp on the coarser stone, the difference in Fine stones is mostly the feedback, and to some extent the cut speed (unless you’re into polishing in which case the surface finish left becomes a big factor)

The king is towards the softer end of the spectrum, with ceramic stones up towards the hard end. I’m not a fan of the very hard stones for free handing as feedback is limited, ymmv though
 

David C

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My advice is to use an Eclipse type jig. (About 11 quid from axminster for good far eastern copy.

Greater certainty, greater accuracy, greater repeatability. repeatability means less work. " degree change very simple, just reduce projection by 2 t 3 mm.

Best wishes, David.
 

D_W

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My advice is to use an Eclipse type jig. (About 11 quid from axminster for good far eastern copy.

Greater certainty, greater accuracy, greater repeatability. repeatability means less work. " degree change very simple, just reduce projection by 2 t 3 mm.

Best wishes, David.
Very limiting for someone who already gets functional results freehand. narrow tools, skews, curved blades, carving tools are all easily adapted by eye from freehand and sharpening in less time with less effort.

The method you teach is good for intermittent users and for beginners to understand separating the steps of sharpening and finishing the tip of a tool, but it is a huge time soak for an experienced user who can expect a cycle time half as long freehanding, and understand angle/edge correction by eye and from use.
 

dannyr

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Never see it mentioned, but I used an eclipse jig many years ago and that central wheel always seemed to wear a groove in the stone - anyone else see this? especially in softer stones (many waterstones) - not so easy to move around the stone as freehand.

Not saying that my freehand is perfect, for sure.
 

D_W

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D_W do you have any good suggestions for stones knowing my sharpening routine? I don't use any guides btw. it seems your saying superfine stones are not good value and autosol is practically as good(your micrographs must show this). I see then that speed can be emphasised over ultimate fineness. sigma seem to tick this box but what other stones do that are available in the UK?
tia
This is the quality of the edge of a tool used with the kityama 8000 stone (Which is similar to the king 8000). The loose slurry on waterstones prevents much wire edge formation, but the tip of the edge wears off quickly to get to uniform metal.


This is the 0.73 micron (and very uniformly graded but soft, making for a fairly slow stone) sigma power 13k.

Sigma Power 13k *PIC*

The SP 13k is probably slow and fine enough that most people don't completely finish an edge with it. working the back of a tool with it to get wear marks out takes quite a long time. But few waterstones other than the shapton 30k and suehiro gokumyo 20k match this level of edge finish (and at a much higher cost).

This brings us to autosol or dursol on wood (abrasive very similar between the two, but the slime that the abrasive is delivered in is more greasy in dursol and more dry-ish feeling (relatively) with the smell of some ammonia in autosol.

Dursol (Autosol) Metal Polish *PIC* (second picture)

it's faster than all of the above stones on hard softwood or medium hardwoods, cheap and as we discussed earlier, the wood only needs to be relatively flat since this is the polishing step. Since you're freehanding, working the back and the tip of the iron on this (just the very tip of the bevel) by hand will be nearly no effort.

I think you would enjoy something like a washita stone if you're freehanding (you can have a heavy hand with it), but washitas and A2 steel do not get along (it pulls something from the steel at the tip - could be carbides). A2 steel doesn't really offer anything but manufacturing stability. When oil hardening steel matches A2 steel in hardness, there's little durability difference but O1 is far more suited to sharpening.

I think at this point since you're freehanding, you could buy just about anything, but finishing the tip of the iron with autosol, you really don't need a very fine stone.

A washita allows for a whole lot of variation with pressure - this is the back of a plane iron - the top picture just removing wear from the back of an iron with 10 seconds of heavy pressure, and then the second picture is just finishing the work with the same stone with light pressure. Finer finish makes for better reflectivity (the microscope has the same light level coming in from the top, but the second picture is brighter due to the better finish).

The important thing in these pictures is the condition of the very edge, because that is what determines both sharpness and longevity of the edge planing clean wood - you can see that despite the washita having a reputation for being a "coarse stone" in literature, it can operate at a finer level than an 8k waterstone. So, the same stone with anything other than highly alloyed steel can operate faster and finer.

This is the kind of thing worth exploring, but as I'm sure you're used to freehanding pulling an iron, you can really use any stone that you're likely to come across. Harder stones spoil a freehander (like the natural stones) by giving you the freedom to sharpen edge leading into the stone and teasing the wire edge off quickly to improve the final result after stropping (stropping is not necessary finishing the edge on wood with autosol on it, though).
 

D_W

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Never see it mentioned, but I used an eclipse jig many years ago and that central wheel always seemed to wear a groove in the stone - anyone else see this? especially in softer stones (many waterstones) - not so easy to move around the stone as freehand.

Not saying that my freehand is perfect, for sure.
It can bring grit to a finer stone, it can rust, it can skid on a strong abrasive and wear a flat, etc. The whole premise of using waterstones and a jig requires constant maintenance of the stone because you lose the ability to manipulate the iron or chisel like you're used to doing. The constant flattening is what keeps the burnishing/skidding/rutting of of the stone.

(you'd be surprised in terms of 2 or 3 degrees, too. you may feel like you're inaccurate, but I'd bet you're more accurate than you think. I have an unmeasured kind of built in angle honing freehand - it's the shallowest angle where a tool holds up without chipping. I never measured it until someone requested I measure a few irons and all were within 1 degree of each other. Any more or less feels funny. This is made easier by separating the secondary or primary from whatever the final angle is so that you can feel that angle easily (despite it being a thin line of contact and not a flat contact surface) and finish the edge completely.
 

D_W

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When I type up long messages with pictures from a microscope, it can seem like the process is becoming complicated with too many comparisons and too much expectation, but the opposite is actually true. I collect sharpening stones and work almost entirely by hand with wood. And I am exceptionally lazy. The lazy side of me enjoys finding a way to do things physically but then making them as easy and as quick and repeatable as possible.

I've used a metallurgical microscope over the last few years to examine edges to kind of sort out the claims about this stone or that, or this method or that, and in some cases, when I offered to do controlled durability tests. But the overall objective of comparing these pictures here is to find the laziest fastest and easiest way to get a fine edge.

I've also got some interesting in shooting holes of some guru's claims - most notably, at one point when Rob Cosman was telling his captive student group (and outside observers) that he recommended spending an exorbitant amount of money on a 0.5 micron stone. The reality is, it's easier to get the same finish and complete the job with loose abrasive that costs $10 if you really feel the need to have that type of edge finish. What if you drop one of those stones? I've had the 1/2 micron stones (owning the gok 20k at one point and using a friend's shapton 30k for a while). I suspect having looked at tools that I've received to set up from people (older wooden planes that need refitting, for example) that few people actually get those stones to the tip of the iron and especially, few will look under a microscope and actually find that they've removed the stria from prior sharpening steps at the edge of the iron. If you have a stone so fine (expensive, etc, on top of it, that you have to be prissy with) and it lengthens the sharpening interval over something that costs a few dollars and lowers the chance of completing the process, what's the point? The fastest way to get an extremely fine result is to grind, use a medium stone to set a bevel and then to treat the back (with biased pressure toward the tip) and the tip of the bevel with something that polishes at a very high level. It only needs to be done to a couple of thousandths of the tip.

Learning to use a buffer for the tip polishing (Even if not following a method that I described as unicorning, but rather just polishing the tip on the bevel side) makes the whole process even faster, and the edge probably isn't matched by anyone's hand sharpening. I've combined all of this with checking edges to see when failure occurs and the result is less wasting time and sharpening more often when needed, or even a little before. A minute cycle time with an iron and 30 -45 seconds with a chisel. A used fine india stone from a flea market and the cheapest fine polish buffing bar you can find will match any sharpening stone cycle or setup that's retailed (though it's not a real favorable comparison for someone selling expensive sharpening stones - which in principle I have absolutely no issue with buying - but I have a big issue with suggestion that they're necessary or even advantageous).
 

msparker

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I've got Naniwa stones and I have to say I'm not a massive fan. The 1000 and 5000 I got, initially for kitchen knives, are nice, but I found them to cut slowly. I then got a 300 to remedy this for starting tools, and still find it to be quite slow. The 8000 I have is just weird (it doesnt feel like its smooth when cutting and can be grabby).

I feel a stuck with them now, but would try a diamond plate or shapton in the future if I can find an excuse.
 

D_W

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msparker - are you referring to the superstones? Your experience is mine - they are soft as most knife stones are to make sure they leave a uniform polish and no unwanted scratches (as can happen with a harder stone, especially if something gets pinned on the surface).

Most of the waterstones marketed to us are intended for knives. The trouble with the internet and the suggestions of various numbers is that we universally think of a 1000 grit stone as "1000 grit", or whatever, but a soft stone made for knives will be much slower than a harder stone on a small bevel when you can lay into the harder stone (like a bester 1200, etc).

What becomes necessary is equating speed to a stone. For example, to be in the same relative ballpark, an 800 chosera would match up against a 1200 bester (and maybe not even be quite as fast as the bester). If someone wanted something slightly coarser for a bester stone, they may be inclined to buy the 1000 grit stone, but it's an entirely different type of stone (soft, more suitable for knives) and actually is slower to use than the 1200 bester.

For starting tools if you have a lot of work to do, you'd be better off with a crystolon stone in an oil bath. I know nobody likes oilstones now, but the oil is necessary to use coarse sharp grit and flush away the swarf. There's no good waterstone for this, and diamond stones don't wear consistently.

to counter the stickiness of the naniwa or some shaptons, use shorter strokes and work down the stone (for example, take strokes about an inch long and each stroke moves the 1 inch stroke an eighth of an inch down the stone until you get from one end to another. It would seem like it should be slower, but it keeps the stone from getting stuck or skidding on water - either of those makes the stone slower, but still keeps enough water/swarf just in front of where you're working to lubricate the action.
 

johnnyb

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just to say my technique with carving tools is white grinder as close to the edge as I can without ever touching it. then india stone finally arkansas(or washita) and autosol on leather. then cut end grain and look at the cut. if its not perfect then arkansas and strop repeat. annoyingly when I brought my tools most manufacturers were using a2 and I have struggled to get a perfect edge occasionally.
 

johnnyb

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I do realise that a jig is real advantage at times I have an eclipse one that I don't bother with and one with a wide brass roller thats quite good(I had it from a workshop fire unfortuneatly the brass had a large flat on it! I turned it down on a metal lathe) but recently (8 years or so) I've only done freehand and like it as it makes sharpening feel a bit less fussy. I think I will try and use it particularly on my rebate planes though
 

D_W

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just to say my technique with carving tools is white grinder as close to the edge as I can without ever touching it. then india stone finally arkansas(or washita) and autosol on leather. then cut end grain and look at the cut. if its not perfect then arkansas and strop repeat. annoyingly when I brought my tools most manufacturers were using a2 and I have struggled to get a perfect edge occasionally.
that's actually a great process - you're separating grinding vs. setting up vs. refining the tip. It's ideal.

A2 is very stable when it's quenched. Manufacturers love it. As a practical steel for a woodworker, it's only mediocre at best. It's wear rate sharpening is slow compared to carbon steel of the same hardness, but its wear rate in use is barely better. I think it's widespread use was sold to us as being based on its capability to wear long, but it was a false comparison (to carbon or oil hardening steels of lesser hardness), but adopted by manufacturers to lower the amount of follow-up finishing after hardening (Which costs money).

What I find with anything more complex than oil hardening steel is that most people don't finish the complex steels all the way to the edge. The microscopic pictures I've showed you are all done freehand with no fixtures, etc, but when I decided to test plane irons last year and started looking at all of these at the edge closely (can't do a plane iron durability test without ensuring that all irons start perfect), I found it to be far less likely to remove all of the wear (not even talking about damage) from CPM 3V and some of the other high wearing steels - *even with diamonds and microbevels* than O1.

In my durability tests, A2 will last 1000 feet where a good oil hardening (O1) iron of the same hardness will last 800, but the 800-1000 foot interval is with extremely poor edge quality and the uniformity of edge wear is poorer with A2. A2s abrasion resistance is worse by probably something like 50%, but it chips more easily and the composition is less uniform, so people predictably come up short refreshing the edge completely and are always in some state of semi-dullness or minor damage whereas the damage would've been less to start on O1 and would've ground off more easily.

And this is in continuous clean wood tests. As soon as we shift to things like chiseling or rough planing, the whole thing tilts back toward simpler steels as they have much better fine edge toughness, especially at high hardness).

Also, I noticed if a steel abrades half as fast (like CPM 3V abrades about half as fast as O1 steel), we will often think "I'll hone it some extra", and if that's 50 strokes on a guide for someone using a diamond hone on O1, nobody will actually do 100 for the 3V. They'll do their normal 50 and do 10 or 15 more. I found this out by experience. Even 1 micron diamonds on steel and a ruler trick (during that test) will result in unremoved stria - diamonds on cast iron.

These are things nobody would ever look at, and neither would I, but I was running a semi-controlled test and took pictures of the backs of irons to ensure comparison of plane iron durability wasn't tainted by incomplete sharpening.

I'm stopping short of suggesting that serious woodworkers should avoid most of the gimmicks that have come along in the last 25 years:
* A2 steel (a dopey choice in planes, completely pointless in chisels)
* glitzy boutique sharpening stones
* bevel up planes

But most of those are dead ends or bad trades.

you have the skill, though (in describing your processes) that it really doesn't matter which stones you get. Just choose something that works fast enough to complete the shaprening process.

(as far as those pictures go, too, with the uniform completeness of the edge - I've never taken pictures of the edges of tools that people send me, but I've never received a single one from anyone that looked as uniform from edge to edge as any of those pictures.....I'll stop beating a dead horse now, except to say when I mention to those folks politely that they should separate grinding, honing and edge conditioning/polishing steps to make sure they can work faster and complete the process more often, they usually come back later with mention that they thought my advice was too particular, but found that it was far less effort to see things my way. You may wish to spend $15 on a cheap cigar shaped digital microscope to look at the edges on the tools that you feel aren't coming up that sharp - it will immediately show you where something looked finished to the naked eye and then isn't - and you'll be able to adjust technique/focus to eliminate those issues fast....

...I call it productive laziness).
 
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