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Thread: Unexpected Side Effect of Sharpening New Tools

  1. #1

    Unexpected Side Effect of Sharpening New Tools

    Since starting my quest to become a hand tool woodworker or, failing that, the owner of all the tools Lie-Nielsen makes, I have neglected the first commandment of new tool purchase. That is, "Thou shalt use a new tool on the day it arrives or at least sharpen it." I had a current back log of about 15 planes and chisels (in their original boxes) on the shelves of the nice quiet corner of Neanderthal Haven that I call my woodworking shop. I have set to work on that pile to bring the tools to mirror finish, gleaming edges and razor sharpness. The unexpected part is the effect on my hands, in particular my finger tips. My phone no longer recognizes my fingerprint to unlock the screen. I suppose it will come back over time but I had a hard time logging into SMC because I needed the Touch ID to call up my password. I had to remember the password. Surprisingly, I did recall it which explains how it is that I am here. So that is the unexpected side effect part.

    Other news to report is that Lie-Nielsen seem to be slipping a bit on finishing and lapping plane irons. As I polished away on the backs of multiple plane irons, I detected longitudinal scratches right at the pointy edge of the chisel. These scratches are the post-heat treatment belt sanding that is part of finishing the irons. Clearly the finisher, lifted the back end of the iron first dubbing the edge ever so slightly. The lapping is supposed to erase those scratches. It doesn't anymore. On one chisel, the lapping was just a 1/4 inch wide right on the edge of the blade. This lapping was a few microns deeper than the rest of the back. I suppose Thom and Deneb are expecting everyone to use the ruler trick to polish just the edge of the back. I still want to see my reflection on the back of the plane iron or chisel, so I proceeded with a good long while on the coarser diamond grits to get the backs flat. Then, lots more time polishing out the scratches I made t. All is good and now I have no hair on my left forearm from testing the razor sharpness of my edges. I use diamond stones first followed by the very flat but slow-cutting Spyderco ceramic stones for polishing. I have the Ohishi water stones from Lie Nielsen but I find that I cannot get the backs as flat with them.

    Here is a picture of the sharpening station. It is a double thickness of plywood covered in leftover Formica from a long ago kitchen cabinet project. It protects the bench from the water and steel filings. I clamped it to my table saw surface as I screwed and glued the two sheets of plywood together. That technique makes the surface much flatter than a single layer of plywood.

    IMG_8207.jpg

    Here is some of the backlog. I have an indulgent wife. There are lots more boxes. Note the spare blades. I am going to grind a cambered blade for a fore plane to try finishing a piece of rough lumber. That should be interesting.

    IMG_8206.jpg

    Just started on this iron. The photo is supposed to show the scratches. At this resolution, you probably cannot see them.
    IMG_8210.jpg

    I remain a super geeky beginner evidencing all the behavior of a someone too new to know what they are doing wrong either in woodworking or forum etiquette.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Issaquah, Washington
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    1,092
    Interesting post Thomas.

    My two cents; It appears this is a "hobby" for you, therefore there are no Rules you must follow. Do what you want, how you want, afterall it is your world and you are the only one qualified to judge. Have fun and enjoy!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Calgary AB
    Posts
    155
    Thomas, add more fingers to your Touch ID. I have the same problem; a pinky usually survives the everyday shop wear and tear and gets recognized. While a pinky is slightly awkward it is quicker than entering my 13 digit password on a small screen every time I need to open the phone. All the micro cuts and abrasions on the other fingers means it can be a while until they work with Touch ID.

  4. #4
    Thanks Vincent. That is a good solution.

  5. #5
    Hey Bill,

    I have been enjoying. I just find it funny to be so conventionally a geezer with a romantic notion of doing hand tool wood work. I am laughing at my own stereotypicalness.

    Right now I may have to address my addiction to bronze. Still a big pile of blades to sharpen, every one seems to come out of a lovely bronze body. I bet few people would think "lovely bronze body" would be used to describe a plane.

    TW

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Winston Salem, NC
    Posts
    57
    One other option if you're bad about removing fingerprints . . . on your fingers. Wrap the tip of the 'important finger' in a couple of wraps of electrical tape. That way you have a couple of layers to get thru before hitting meat.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson View Post
    I still want to see my reflection on the back of the plane iron or chisel
    I just have to make this remark. A mirror polish doesn't equal a sharp edge. Don't make it a focus point of sharpening.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica de Boer View Post
    I just have to make this remark. A mirror polish doesn't equal a sharp edge. Don't make it a focus point of sharpening.
    Agree

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

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica de Boer View Post
    I just have to make this remark. A mirror polish doesn't equal a sharp edge. Don't make it a focus point of sharpening.
    So true. At least on plane blades, it's only the last eighth of an inch or so that actually does anything.

    On chisels it's a bit more complicated. (Ducks and runs.)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica de Boer View Post
    I just have to make this remark. A mirror polish doesn't equal a sharp edge. Don't make it a focus point of sharpening.
    Hey Jessica, Nice to meet you. I look forward to learning a lot from you. I have a PhD in mechanical engineering. You can use graphs and equations.
    TW

  11. #11
    I have to agree with Jessica. You cannot judge sharpness by the number on your stone or the polish of the surface. You can only judge sharpness by actual use and then only insomuch as you can notice subtle differences in performance.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
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    I agree with Jessica and Warren. Certain sharpening media leave a mirrored finish and others do not. What I’m looking for in a sharp edge is for the bevel to meet the back cleanly. This means effective removal of the first the wear and then the burr.

    Personally I prefer an edge that is not mirrored, mirror edges make it more difficult to differentiate the wear from the polish. A plain finish shows a bright line at the wear bevel. I sharpen with a coarse stone until that is removed, then I move onto finer stones to refine the edge. Finally I touch the back eith a fine stone to remove what has become a very fine burr.

    The work tells the whole story, a good edge leaves a sheen on the wood’s surface without lines.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    340
    Whats even more impressive (and rare) than someone with a PhD in mechanical engineering is someone who can take advice gracefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson View Post
    Hey Jessica, Nice to meet you. I look forward to learning a lot from you. I have a PhD in mechanical engineering. You can use graphs and equations.
    TW

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    2,189
    I like my edges shiny. Carving tools,chisels, planes blades all shiny and slippery. So I disagree with Jessica,Brian,Warren and Jim.
    Aj

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    I agree with Jessica and Warren. Certain sharpening media leave a mirrored finish and others do not. What I’m looking for in a sharp edge is for the bevel to meet the back cleanly. This means effective removal of the first the wear and then the burr.

    Personally I prefer an edge that is not mirrored, mirror edges make it more difficult to differentiate the wear from the polish. A plain finish shows a bright line at the wear bevel. I sharpen with a coarse stone until that is removed, then I move onto finer stones to refine the edge. Finally I touch the back eith a fine stone to remove what has become a very fine burr.

    The work tells the whole story, a good edge leaves a sheen on the wood’s surface without lines.
    [To the OP:] The ultimate arbiter of sharpness is, wait for it, wait for it, ... how sharp the edge is. (Well, actually not, because performance is the ultimate judge. And metallurgy has a whole lot to do with that.) But as regards sharpening, you should look at the actual edge that you are creating, and for that you need a loupe, and you can buy a decent one with illuminated 60X magnification for less than US$20 on amazon. That should be very informative to you. Use it every step of the way, for starters.
    Last edited by Doug Dawson; 02-03-2019 at 3:02 AM.

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