View Full Version : When and how to re-sharpen??

Stan Lee
04-01-2003, 4:06 PM
Hi all,
I'm new to this form and was glad to find it. Thanks to all that has been written on sharpening, Iíve been able to put a good edge on my chisels and plans using the scary sharp method. Now that they are sharp and Iím using them, Iím not sure the best process to keep the tools sharp and how often to sharpen them. Assuming there are no big nicks on the edge, should I go to 2000 grit paper (highest Iím sharpening at) and flatten the back and edge, or do I start at a lower paper? Can I use a leather strop? If so, how do you use it? Thanks in advance.

Tom Scott
04-01-2003, 5:33 PM
The easy answer to part 1 is, you sharpen when required. How often that is depends on what you are doing, how much of that activity you are doing, and the type of wood you're using. If you start out with a sharp blade, and you know what that feels like, then you need to sharpen when the tool isn't performing like it should. For me, that usually happens when I start to get some tear-out during planing or, when using chisels, you find that it is pulling at the wood fibers instead of slicing them.

Part 2-how to sharpen...If I just need a quick touch-up, which is the usual case, I do one of two things. Typically I will give the blade a quick lapping on a leather strop. I usually have a strop in one of my vices while working at the bench so it only takes a minute (literally) to give it a quick lapping. My strop is nothing more than a piece of leather on a hardwood backing. I also use the green honing compound on the leather. This works great for chisels which may be sharp, but need that little bit extra to get tham back to really sharp. For plane blades and chisels that have really dulled, I will first sharpen on an extra fine stone until a bur is raised on the back side. Then a couple of strokes on the back to remove the bur (you shouldn't need to "flatten" the backs after they're done once), and then finish on the strop.

As you've probably noticed, there are about as many opinions and systems for sharpening as there are woodworkers. The best advice is to find a system that works for you. Mine is very simple, but I'm just a simple kind of guy.

Stan Lee
04-02-2003, 11:14 PM
Tom, Thanks for the info.