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Thread: Sharpening Questions and Waterstone Selection

  1. #1
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    Sharpening Questions and Waterstone Selection

    Hi - I'm having trouble sharpening. I'm currently trying scary sharp with a piece of granite, a piece of float glass, and varying grits of sandpaper up through 1500 grit. Each and every old Stanley plane iron I sharpen ends up shaving hair decently, but not spectacularly. However, I cannot get the chisels to shave. I spend about three hours last night on about 8 chisels that I've collected and none of them would end up shaving. Most were a set of Bucks Brothers and there were a few Great Necks and a couple of Stanley 60's. I was able to get a decent hollow grind on the chisels that had chips and dings and went from there through the grits up to 1500. All ended up really shiny and reflective, but dull.

    Possible problems?:

    1) Technique sucks. I can't get the plane iron bevels flat freehanding them. The bevels are too thin. Need more practice and/or a guide. No matter how hard I try, it also seems like the chisels were rocking just a minute bit, which is probably all it takes to ruin the edge. I did flatten the backs, marking each with a felt tip marker to monitor progress. Eventually I was marking the chisels in between each grit, and still no luck.

    2) Not using fine enough sandpaper. The chisels felt like they wanted to shave, but would not. Plane irons will shave every time, although the bevels are rounded (see #1). Both were getting very shiny and reflective in appearance. Basically ended up with shiny, polished, dull blades.

    3) Plate glass/granite may not be flat... probably the least of the issues as both surfaces yielded essentially the same results. Plane irons shave, chisels wouldn't.

    I suspect #1 is 99% of the problem. In any case, I think I'm going to get a guide and retry scary sharp or use the guide with waterstones. Can't decide between the eclipse-type guide and the MKII, and I can't decide between the Norton/Shapton stones.

    I have a set of Marples blue-handled chisels on the way, and don't want to screw them up (even though these are lesser chisels for many folks!).

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    1500 grit is not very fine. I recommebd a 220 grit diamond stone,a White Spyderco ceramic bench stone,and a black Spyderco ceramic stone.

    Start with the 220 diamond stone to get rid of little chips or dents in the edge. Then,use the black ceramic,followed by the white ceramic stone. This will bring the edge up to a shine. Finish by stropping on a piece of leather glued to a flat board,with some Simichrome silver polish spread sparingly. Let the strop turn black with use. It only gets finer with use. I use a honing liquid of a cup of water with 5 or 6 drops of dish detergent in it.

    The ceramic stones require cleaning of tiny metal chips. Just scrub them with the diamond stone under a faucet. If the white stone arrives with any 'fuzz" on it,scrub it smooth with the diamond stone.

    Unless you break the stones,you will be set for life. They will never wear out. I don't care for water stones. They can cost a lot,and always need flattening as they are very soft. You wear them out with flattening.

  3. #3
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    I was frustrated with sharpening and scary sharp for quite a while....

    I know I sound like a broken record to many regulars here, but David Charlesworth opened the door to sharpening and thereby this world of handtools.

    Here is a primer - http://www.popularwoodworking.com/ar...arning_Curves/

    My recommendation though - rent his sharpening video from Netflix for $10 (or buy it!). Get the eclipse jig - $15. I use Shapton - DC recommends King, but likes Norton as well. A Norton 1000\8000 combination stone runs $100. Flatten the stones w/ a granite plate and sandpaper. Follow the DVD step by step - I promise you, you'll have sharp blades....
    - jbd in Denver

  4. #4
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    May 2007
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    another option

    I would recommend buying Rob Cosman's DVD on sharpening. He offers a very simple and very short technique. Since that video he has changed to Shapton stones but the technique remains the same. With a little practice you can resharpen a plane blade in under a minute. I like David Charlesworth but after watching his sharpening DVD it seemed too overwhelming and way too complicated to me. Cosman simplifies the approach and the results are proven.
    With skill and tool we put our trust and when that won't do then power we must.

  5. #5
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    Get a Veritas Mk II sharpening guide. A lot of the online suppliers have them. Trying to do the bevel by "eye" or "feel" is for those who claim to be expert. I'm not, and I know my limitations. By the way, are you getting the back absolutely flat? I mean 6000 grit waterstone, very shiny, no scratch marks flat? Remember, a cutting edge is very simply the meeting of two flat edges.

  6. #6
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    I highly doubt I'm getting to flat at this stage.

    As you can tell, I'm far from an expert. I'm a beginner. Oh, and the Marples arrived today in the nice little wooden box! Brand new, and they don't shave, either out of the box, so this is something I need to learn as quickly as is reasonable!

    One more question - the grits seem fairly straightforward between the Norton and the Shaptons. In the Spyderco, there are two whites, fine and ultrafine. What grits are those roughly equivalent to? Also, if I get a DMT diamond stone, would the coarse or extra coarse be the 220 grit?

    Thanks to everyone for being patient and taking the time to help out a beginner. I think you guys have me settled on the MKII.

  7. #7
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    Hi Justin.
    I too am a beginner and just last week sharpened my first chisels and plane blades with scary sharp.
    I researched thoroughly before starting to sharpen and I think all of my chisels and blades came out pretty well.
    I think the key for me was the Veritas MKII. Very easy to set up and use.
    And the micro-bevel is very easy to do as well.
    I will add that as I was checking one of the chisels in the guide I scuffed the top of my finger just above the nail. Didnt feel it. But it didnt stop bleeding for a while.
    To me that is a good indication of being "scary sharp".
    Wishes-
    When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor

  8. #8
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    I think the 220 is regarded as coarse. As for the white stone,I'd just get it,and not the ultra fine,which costs a lot more. I have the white,and after dressing the fuzz off of it,it has been perfectly satisfactory,leaving a polished edge. I don't know the actual grit,but it is perfectly fine. Just go to the strop to get an extra chrome like shine. This system will make your tools so sharp that,if they are decent steel,they will shave your hair without effort. I've used it for many years. Sorry to be vague,I'm just tired out.

    If you don't drop the stones and break them,they will last forever.

    You can also get a set of ceramic slip stones for sharpening gouges,and other curved shapes. Let me describe how hard these stones are: I can take a white arkansas slipstone,and easily grind it into a special shape on my zirconia belts. Not so with the ceramics. They are harder than the belts. I have been able to sharpen tool steels,like D2,to a razor edge with the ceramic stone setup. Before,I could not quite get the D2 fully razor sharp,because the steel was harder than the stones I was then using.

    Do not expect the Marples to be sharp out of the box.
    Last edited by george wilson; 02-24-2009 at 9:57 PM.

  9. #9
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    Justin, I have used SS (Scary Sharp) for several years until recently when I switched to Shaptons in order to learn freehand sharpening.

    For scary sharp 1500 is not fine enough, you need to at least get in the 4000-6000 range to start shaving. I used the LV micro abrasive sheets. The green sheet is about 9000 grit. They will give you a razor edge to match any other sharpening technique. I also used a honing guide, and I would recommend the same for you as scarysharpening free hand require some skill. Using a honing guide takes the skill factor out of the equation. If you can't wait for shipping through LV you can get higher grit sandpaper from automobile parts stores (Napa, Autozone etc.)

    Also, if you decide to go the stones route I would recommend Shapton water stones, simply based on the fact that I have them they are superb in every way. I would suggest you try the a sandpaper in the 6000 grit range before you give up on SS.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  10. #10
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    Contrary to what others have said, 1500 is more than fine enough to bring an edge to the sharpness level you seek, shaving hair. I can get there with 600 grit sandpaper. Once you get there, you'll probably want sharper, but that's another story.

    Since you mention purchasing a guide as a future activity, you must be sharpening freehand. That might be the problem. It could be that unintentional rocking is just enough to dampen the edge.

    Get, or make, a guide. I think it will help. You don't have to spend a lot of money. "The Schwarz" talks with great admiration of a very cheap guide that is no longer manufactured. The basic $18 guide is more than enough. Being a skinflint, I'm very happy with Derek Cohen's "10 cent" guide. See it at:
    http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Woodwor...%20System.html

  11. #11
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    Ah,but,the thing is,600 does not continue to be 600 as it is worn down.

  12. #12
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    Shapton

    I agree with Zahid. Shapton stones are superb (although very expensive). If you go with Shapton stones also get their lapping plate. DMTs plate isn't recommend on Shapton stones. I would recommend 1000 & 16000 for planes and 1000, 4000, 8000, and 16000 for chisels.

    With a little practice you won't need the jig. Try freehand - you will get it.
    With skill and tool we put our trust and when that won't do then power we must.

  13. #13
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    Well, if the paper isn't fine enough, I'm going to try that out first. Did order the MKII jig tonight, just in case! Really thinking about the spyderco ceramic stones as well to complement the lower scary sharp grits...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Dykes View Post
    I was frustrated with sharpening and scary sharp for quite a while....

    I know I sound like a broken record to many regulars here, but David Charlesworth opened the door to sharpening and thereby this world of handtools.

    Here is a primer - http://www.popularwoodworking.com/ar...arning_Curves/

    My recommendation though - rent his sharpening video from Netflix for $10 (or buy it!). Get the eclipse jig - $15. I use Shapton - DC recommends King, but likes Norton as well. A Norton 1000\8000 combination stone runs $100. Flatten the stones w/ a granite plate and sandpaper. Follow the DVD step by step - I promise you, you'll have sharp blades....
    +1 on the Charlesworth DVD's (and books). He is thorough, deliberate, and doesn't skip over anything. Follow his method and you will have success.

    That doesn't mean other authors or methods won't work; I just found that Charlesworth spelled it all out in a manner that I could follow and emulate from the get-go.

    But as in all things, YMMV.

    -TH

  15. #15
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    One of the problems that can occur with scary sharp is if the paper is not adhered strongly to the base you are using is it will roll up in front of the blade and cause rounding.

    Hand sharpening is difficult to learn from the get go. As one who has done a lot of blades by hand, my recent discovery is that it is a lot faster and easier to do with a holder.
    Being frugal, my method was to use some holders already in the shop for a power sharpening system. With the adaptation, they work pretty good on stones and would do well on scary sharp. My finding is using the guide is a lot less troublesome and a heck of a lot faster.

    Here is a .pdf that, iirc, was posted here before. Not sure where it came from, but it is useful for grit size comparison.

    jim
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