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Thread: My Camber Blade Round Tuit Finally Came

  1. #1
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    My Camber Blade Round Tuit Finally Came

    OK, a couple of times I have said this would get done. Here it is in all of its rambling words and pictures.

    Sharpening is one of those things that gives rise to many opinions and heartfelt debate over preferred methods. There is also a lot of discussion of cambering blades.

    My experience is limited in this area. I make no claim to be an expert. In my opinion, if your sharpening is working for you, then you must be doing something right. In the last few years my sharpening has become much better. Hopefully it will continue to improve over the coming years.

    This post is only my opinion on another method for cambering a plane blade. Most of the time my blades are not purposely cambered. If my lumber came with a rough surface, then a blade might be cambered to use like a scrub plane. If my work was in more expensive woods and making fine high priced furniture, then my blades might get cambered for the final smoothing.

    Please offer your comments, suggestions, experiences and ideas in the spirit of "this is what works in my shop." If you have tried these or different methods and they have had problems or successes that you can share, it will make it more interesting and add value for all who read this thread.

    Before anything else, the blade must be sharp. The definition of sharpness can be quantified, but the actual physical being of sharpness seems to be a moving target as we become more skilled at sharpening.

    Testing for sharpness is also an area of wide debate.

    Some will claim they can tell if a blade is sharp enough by testing against their thumbnail.

    Thumbnail Sharpness Test.jpg

    They are correct. It does take some time to learn this method of sharpness testing. It also is not a good one to use if you have a propensity to keep the free edge of your nails trimmed.

    In my experience the sharpness can be determined by the feel of the edge against the nail and the angle at which it must be held to "stick." It is also possible to get the edge to "stick" without being fully sharp. This is where experience comes in with every test mentioned here.

    Another method that is often mentioned is the push through paper test. This is perhaps the safest way to check for sharpness. As long as fingers and other flesh are kept out of the path of the blade there will likely be no mishaps.

    Paper Sharpness Test.jpg

    The less stiffness in the paper, the sharper the blade needs to be. Also, a slicing motion is kind of like cheating. To test sharpness it must be a straight push into the edge of the paper.

    I do not use this test, but it is a good and safe way to test a blade's edge.

    I didn't take any pictures of the hair shaving method of testing the edge of a blade. Though this is my most used way to test a blade, it can be dangerous. It may be that when young, it was my habit of not shaving for a few years at a time that lead me to use a straight razor. In those days we didn't have the multi bladed razors that are common today. The confidence of dragging one of those across my neck may be why pushing a chisel or plane blade across my arm doesn't seem out of the norm for me.

    Like the paper or thumbnail test, there are different levels of sharpness that can be detected by the arm hair test. A really sharp blade will not leave any hair in its path and you will not feel hair being cut.

    The end grain test also was not photographed. A sharp blade should be able to take a very fine shaving from the end grain of pine or other soft wood. In a plane, if it takes a fine shaving, it is probably sharp. Otherwise, what one often gets is dust or a need to take a thick shaving.

    Why camber a blade?

    This is an often asked question. For a scrub plane it is obvious, it is easier to get to the wanted thickness and remove saw marks planing diagonally or across the grain with a deep cut. A cambered blade helps with hogging off wood in these situations.

    Some like a slight camber across the full width of their jointer planes. This is something for someone who uses such to add if they choose. It is something of which the theory is understandable and has its appeal. The theory of time travel is also appealing, it is just that neither have happened for me as of yet.

    For many people a slight camber at the edge of a smoother plane is helpful in eliminating "tracks" sometimes left by the corner of a plane's blade.

    Methods to camber a blade are likely as plentiful as the ways to sharpen a blade if not more so.

    My thoughts on this come from my experience while flattening the backs of old blades that would come up great in the center but not the edges. Maybe that was because craftsmen of years gone by also relieved the backs of the blade at the edges.

    This is what the shaving looked like from a freshly sharpened blade mounted in a #5 type 17 before being "cambered."

    Full Width Shaving.jpg

    Please note this shaving was taken on a scrap of wood used for testing gouges and knife blades. The area of the shaving on the ruler was not affected by previous tests. The areas where the shaving is broken are where there were depressions in the surface from previous tests.

    Here a small stone is used to emphasize this being done in just a corner of the blade. It only takes a few strokes. It will even go faster if done on a coarser stone.

    Back Side Rub.jpg

    One "camber" was done on the back of the blade and a second was done on the bevel side for comparison purposes.

    Bevel Side Rub.jpg

    The honing of the camber is done at an angle. This will tend to feather the edge so the camber will be most at the edge and diminish towards the center of the blade. In total it was less than 10 short strokes on either side of the blade. YMMV

    The blade was reinserted into the plane and adjusted to take a similar cut.

    "Cambered" Blade Shaving.jpg

    The shaving is not the full 2" at about the same shaving thickness. Running one's fingers over the planed surface does reveal that the edge of the blade being cambered does make a difference in the surface. YMMV

    One of my bevel up block planes has a blade that has the underside of the blade corners relieved. It is similar in action.

    In my opinion, if one wanted to "camber" the blade on a bevel up plane, a slight honing on the corners of the "blade's back" might be an attractive alternative.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 01-29-2011 at 4:54 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #2
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    On a lot of the old irons I pick up I too have noticed a full radius so slight that you don't even see it until you start polishing. I've noted it on the bevel side, but not too ofter on the back, although I have seen it. I figured it was just the way it was made and never flattened. The first few irons I had like that I worked the camber off...then after learning more about camber I worked with the radius and discovered that they had the perfect (IMO) grind/shape.

    Kind of hearkens back to a comment Adam Cherubini made in a post about a month ago. Sometimes the iron or chisel has a strange grind because the previous owner didn't know what they were doing, but sometimes it's because the previous owner knew what we want to know.

    One great use for a more dramatic radius that is new to me is in edge jointing. I had never thought about it but had read it in a book, or a blog or something. On an edge that's warped, or an edge that I've accidently planed out of square, the cambered iron levels it out in a few controlled strokes with the jack or jointer fittied with the heavy cambered iron, as opposed to running the jointer over and over again and getting minimal results. You can more easily focus your efforts on the high side, and the camber of course lets you hog out more. Tear out can suck though, but I don't let it get too close to level before I use the jointer again.

    Cool post Jim.
    Last edited by john brenton; 01-28-2011 at 9:05 PM. Reason: sp

  3. #3
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    Yep,that looks sharp!!!

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    I see we're all having an exciting Friday night...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by john brenton View Post
    I see we're all having an exciting Friday night...
    No energy left to spend in the shop working (long week at work). Next best thing is some tunes, a good pint of porter, and reading about how to be a better woodworker.
    If it ain't broke, fix it til it is!

  6. #6
    How do you find your sharpening methods to differ between planes and chisels? I can make any one of my planes sing with little effort. Even my beat up 50ish year old Stanley can take the finest shavings. Ask me to sharpen a chisel, and it's all done. For whatever reason, I can't get my chisels anywhere near as sharp as my planes. I'm starting to believe that it's the chisels and not me (my bench chisels at the moment are Footprints). I want to get a few LN's and Blue Spruce chisels, and ditch my footies...I can't believe that they're THAT bad though!
    If it ain't broke, fix it til it is!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Baldwin III View Post
    How do you find your sharpening methods to differ between planes and chisels? I can make any one of my planes sing with little effort. Even my beat up 50ish year old Stanley can take the finest shavings. Ask me to sharpen a chisel, and it's all done. For whatever reason, I can't get my chisels anywhere near as sharp as my planes. I'm starting to believe that it's the chisels and not me (my bench chisels at the moment are Footprints). I want to get a few LN's and Blue Spruce chisels, and ditch my footies...I can't believe that they're THAT bad though!
    I have had that same experience. While I try to never blame the tool, I'm becoming fairly certain that my woodriver chisels just can't get a sharp edge as easily as a hock or old stanley blade.

    Hopefully I can pick up some AIs or LNs in the near future.

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    It's going to sound like a silly thing to say, but I have the Footprints and I can effortlessly pare end grain with one hand with them...not that I do that on the daily or anything, but sometimes I do pointless stuff when I'm taking a beer break in the man cave.

    Although I never experienced a problem with not being able to get chisels as sharp as plane irons, I do suggest the veritas honing jig...or any honing jig, but the veritas is the one I have. It does make sharpening more exact, and it makes adding the secondary bevel a cinch. Maybe there is a certain degree of ultra-sharpness, or fineness that I feel on an old iron that I don't feel on a new chisel...but perhaps it could be slightly lower bevel angle, the composition of the iron, or just my imagination. Either way, the sharpness of the chisels doesn't leave me wanting more.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Baldwin III View Post
    How do you find your sharpening methods to differ between planes and chisels? I can make any one of my planes sing with little effort. Even my beat up 50ish year old Stanley can take the finest shavings. Ask me to sharpen a chisel, and it's all done. For whatever reason, I can't get my chisels anywhere near as sharp as my planes. I'm starting to believe that it's the chisels and not me (my bench chisels at the moment are Footprints). I want to get a few LN's and Blue Spruce chisels, and ditch my footies...I can't believe that they're THAT bad though!
    Last edited by john brenton; 01-28-2011 at 10:51 PM.

  9. #9
    We'd probably have to understand you sharpening method to guess why you can't get chisels sharp. One reason might be chrome vanadium steel. I've learned to steer completely clear of it. Otherwise, if you know what sharp is on a plane iron, why can't you get the same thing on a chisel? Softer steels should sharpen right up.

  10. #10
    These sharpening threads are some of my favorites to read. I learn a little something from each one. Think I'll have to give my plane irons a little attention this weekend, and try out Jim's technique. I use a LV jig for 99% of my sharpening. Some on waterstones and some on sandpaper, depends on my mood really. Glad to accept that the problem is me, and not my tools. I'll have to try an extra dose of patience!
    If it ain't broke, fix it til it is!

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    I should have been more clear with my original response to Mark's post. While I CAN get them as sharp as my plane irons (pare pine end grain or shave hair) I find it to be more difficult to consistently get a good edge ( i use an eclipse for all my sharpening).

    I believe my chisels (WR) are probably a low quality A2 or other steel with chromium that if not made to high standards has issues with large uneven carbides (not that i really know what I'm talking about when it comes to steel types). .

    Though they've been a perfectly usable starter set, especially give how cheap they were, they chip relatively easily (honed at 35 degrees)

    Actually come to think of it, my issue with sharpening them is probably due to the fact that A. they are a harder steel than most my plane irons and B. the edge fractures easily and therefore there is typically more work to be done when I re-sharpen them than there is when I re-sharpen my plane irons.

  12. #12
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    While I CAN get them as sharp as my plane irons (pare pine end grain or shave hair) I find it to be more difficult to consistently get a good edge ( i use an eclipse for all my sharpening).

    I believe my chisels (WR) are probably a low quality A2 or other steel with chromium that if not made to high standards has issues with large uneven carbides (not that i really know what I'm talking about when it comes to steel types). .

    Though they've been a perfectly usable starter set, especially give how cheap they were, they chip relatively easily (honed at 35 degrees)

    Actually come to think of it, my issue with sharpening them is probably due to the fact that A. they are a harder steel than most my plane irons and B. the edge fractures easily and therefore there is typically more work to be done when I re-sharpen them than there is when I re-sharpen my plane irons.
    It seems there are two main problems addressed in this. One is the ability to achieve a sharp edge. The second is to keep the sharp edge.

    Is the full bevel at 35º or is that a micro bevel?

    What you have left out may also be important. What is your sharpening media?

    Another important consideration is how many times have the blades been sharpenend?

    Also do you strop your blades after sharpening or between sharpenings?

    Until reading about it, in a book by Chris Pye and a lot of others who use it here, it was not a part of my arsenal. My wife likes to do lapidary. To the rest of us she likes to play with rocks. When we were in a store picking up some supplies for her, I noticed they had some green charging sticks for polishing stones. It does wonders to my blades on hard leather. Used between sharpening sessions, it helps a bit to maintain an edge. The blade needs to be stropped before it gets noticeably dull. I use this mostly on chisels. Too much hassle with plane blades to disassemble a plane and cap iron. I do sharpen plane blades before they get really dull. Plane blades do get stropped at the end of their sharpening on stones.

    The chiping of the edge is something that happened to me with a brand new blade of A2 steel. Now that the blade has been honed a few times, the problem seems to have gone away. This small chip would always appear at the same spot on the blade.

    Is just happening to one blade in a group? Is it a lot of chipping in different locations or is it always in the same spot? I think A2 steels do have a tendency to fracture at the edge as opposed to rounding.

    As to blade hardness, it is my opinion that even old Stanley blades came in different degrees of hardness due to the differences in workers and supplies.

    Two of my blades with the same logo have very different characteristics when it is time to sharpen them. One just comes up fine and dandy. The other wears me out trying to give it an edge. Maybe next time I will try to determine if one holds the edge better than the other.

    Another question would be, do you have any power grinding equipment? Sometimes it can be helpful in getting a good edge on a blade. Other times it can be a curse if you "burn" the edge.

    I do not have a bench grinder, but they do help make it easier for folks who like to sharpen by hand. The hollow grind makes it much easier to get the edge registered on the sharpening media.

    I use a flat disk power sharpening system that has made me very happy. (Veritas Mk II Power Sharpening system) That can be quite an investment. There are only a few things in my shop that have not been able to be sharpened on this. Only one of those items might benefit by having a wheel grinder.

    Well this is getting a bit rambly.

    If you have more questions, ask them. That may be the only way to find an answer.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    In response to Jim's questions...

    - the 35 degree bevel is a secondary/micro bevel.

    - I've had the chisels over a year so they've been sharpened a number of times. They have definitely gotten better with more sharpenings which tells me that the initial grinding did in all likelihood remove some of the temper in the very tip. Perhaps not all of this has been removed yet and hopefully they will continue to improve with time.

    - I don't have a power grinder. When I need to regrind the primary bevel I switch over to course sandpaper on granite, so I'm fairly certain that I couldn't have affected the steels temper.

    - My primary sharpening medium is 1000 to 8000 norton waterstones. I typically follow with a few swipes on mdf loaded with the green stuff (still haven't decided if this makes a difference). I don't strop between sharpenings, but I do resharpen fairly frequently, as I love working with a fresh edge.

    - Haven't noticed if the chisels chip in the same place; that's definitely something I'll pay attention too.

    - Also before someone asks this question. Yes, that backs are flat and polished to just as a high a polish as the bevel.

    Honestly, my issue might partially be that I'm just a bit too OCD when it comes to sharpening (if there is such a thing) and edge retention. As we all know, sometimes REALLY sharp just isn't sharp enough.

    And once again, while the chisels are perfectly functional, they are still relatively low end so it wouldn't surprise me if the steel is of less than stellar quality.

    Hope that answers all your questions Jim; thanks for the input.

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    Honestly, my issue might partially be that I'm just a bit too OCD when it comes to sharpening (if there is such a thing) and edge retention. As we all know, sometimes REALLY sharp just isn't sharp enough.

    And once again, while the chisels are perfectly functional, they are still relatively low end so it wouldn't surprise me if the steel is of less than stellar quality.

    Hope that answers all your questions Jim; thanks for the input.
    That does pretty much answer the questions.

    One of my thoughts on a sharp edge is that each time it cuts something it is dulled by the cutting action. Even testing the sharpness does a little to dull a blade. If this didn't happen, we could have blades that never dulled.

    The pursuit is finding a blade that holds an edge long enough so we can do enough work so that the sharpening seems like a quick break from the more difficult work at hand.

    I keep a couple of pieces of leather charged with green stropping compound. The trick is to strop a few strokes before the chisel really needs it. When it is clearly apparent that it is needed, it is too late for it to help much.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
    Hi I put a camber on my iron but have a hell of a time honing it to sharp. Here are some pictures. Is my arc too big? Did I lift up too much and round the edge over?IMG_1010.jpgIMG_1011.jpgIMG_1012.jpg

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