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Thread: Sharpening plane irons & chisels - here's what I've got...where to start?

  1. #1
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    Sharpening plane irons & chisels - here's what I've got...where to start?

    Over the last couple of years I've been picking up sharpening stones and other accessories as I found them at garage & estate sales, Craigslist, SMC and I even bought a new Japanese water stone from LV and a granite block from Woodcraft earlier this year. Here's what I've got shown in the pics...

    Pic1: A small leather strop on wood; some type of round Norton stone, I don't know the grits but looks like possibly a medium and fine; 3 Norton stones (oil?) fine (India), Medium (Crystolon) & Course (Crystolon); 2 small stones one unused (marked SB-134), don't know grits on either; 2 stones in boxes that appear to be the same; another Norton stone (Hard Arkansas HM6) and I don't know the grit on this one either.
    Pic 2&3: Ceramic stones by Spyderco in Medium, Fine and Ultra Fine grits.
    Pic 4: King Stone Japanese watersone from Lee Valley in 4000 grit.
    Pic 5: Granite block and honing compound (green)
    Pic 6: 2 Diamond plates (unknown grits, can't even say which one is finer between the two plates, don't know if they are still good); DMT plate (green, which I believe is 1200 mesh (is mesh the same as grit?) and leather for stropping.


    I've watched Paul Sellers videos for sharpen a plane iron and sharpening new Aldi chisels a few times. In those vids IIRC he sharpens the chisels using sandpaper on plate glass, then diamond stones and strops with a wood block and finally leather. Can't recall what he used to sharpen the plane irons.

    So I to know what would you guys recommend of these sharpening tools I should be using or what do I need? I've requested our public library deliver the Ron Hock and Leonard Lee to my local neighborhood library for reading. Any and all help appreciated!

    Mike

    IMG_8937.jpgIMG_8940.jpgIMG_8941.jpgIMG_8942.jpgIMG_8944.jpgIMG_8945.jpg

  2. #2
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    My suggestion would be to try working with the set of Spyderco stones. At least you know which is which.

    Work on your technique. If your camera is able to do video and you want to hand sharpen, make a video from the side to see if your hands are staying steady and the blade isn't going up and down.

    With the other stones if you want to 'grade' them, sharpen a blade and polish the bevel on your strop. Then you will be able to see the scratch pattern made by each of the other stones and judge which are coarse and which are finer. You will have to do a lot of stropping between trials or use a bunch of different blades. This is where flea market finds come in handy.

    It took me a few years of working with water stones to get my oilstones to work for me.

    There are two sharpening stations in my shop. One is for water stones, the other is for oilstones. Water freezes in my shop during the winter. Lately using my oilstones has been working so well my water stones are mostly sitting idle.

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

  3. #3
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    What kind of steel do you have? I use an India stone, hard Arkansas, and black Arkansas, but my tools are all O1 steel or old high carbon steel.

    If you have A2 steel or PMV 11, you would need something else.

    ETA: The ceramic stones Jim mentioned should sharpen anything.

    Also, Lie Nielsen has a YouTube channel. They have videos on both plane iron and chisel sharpening.
    Last edited by Nicholas Lawrence; 07-17-2019 at 7:19 PM.

  4. #4
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    I have DMT diamond plates and they will produce razor sharp edges. I also have a rough leather strop glued to a board. I charge the leather with stropping compound.


    https://www.woodcraft.com/products/g...-compound-6-oz
    Last edited by lowell holmes; 07-17-2019 at 7:40 PM.

  5. #5
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    Use the coarsest diamond plate for rough grinding and to keep the Spyderco stones flat.

    Most of the oil stones shown are appropriate more machine shops and woodchopping axes (that's what the round one is for).

    Granite plates with lapping compound require a dedicated space and deliberate cleanup.

    Keep the Strop at your workbench for touchups.

  6. #6
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    Nicholas,
    All my planes are pre-WWII Stanley Bailey (exception is a Union #6 but it's equally old). As far as chisels, here are the sets I have... maybe y'all can tell me what kind of steel in the planes and chisels but I think the steel you're mentioning is newer. Right? I will start out trying the ceramic stones.

    Just read that the medium, fine & ultra-fine Spyderco stones equate to 600, 1800 & 2000 "grit".

    IMG_6816.jpgIMG_7207.jpgIMG_7585.jpg

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    I have DMT diamond plates and they will produce razor sharp edges. I also have a rough leather strop glued to a board. I charge the leather with stropping compound.


    https://www.woodcraft.com/products/g...-compound-6-oz
    Lowell,
    Got that already. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Use the coarsest diamond plate for rough grinding and to keep the Spyderco stones flat.

    Most of the oil stones shown are appropriate more machine shops and woodchopping axes (that's what the round one is for).

    Granite plates with lapping compound require a dedicated space and deliberate cleanup.

    Keep the Strop at your workbench for touchups.
    Jim,

    Well, I was thinking I'd like a dedicated sharpening "station" even though space is really at a premium for me. I'll see how using the ceramic stones goes.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    We’ll all share are own current preference, and all will work with a bit of practice. You might want to look at the side of the diamond plates...might have “coarse”, “medium”, “fine” or “extra fine” printed on them. My current method is a medium then fine diamond plate, then ultra fine spyderco, then strop on leather with green compound.

  9. #9
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    I also have a set of these three for sharpening knives and small tools.

    https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-t...-LAP%2bDIAMOND

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    I also have a set of these three for sharpening knives and small tools.

    https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-t...-LAP%2bDIAMOND
    Lowell,
    I too have a set of those. Didn't show them since they aren't really for sharpening plane irons and chisels which is where I'm focused on learning and developing some skills.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Phil! That's encouraging to hear.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Manning View Post
    Lowell,
    Got that already. Thanks!



    Jim,

    Well, I was thinking I'd like a dedicated sharpening "station" even though space is really at a premium for me. I'll see how using the ceramic stones goes.

    Thanks!
    Mike,

    A sharpening bench/station is the best thing you can do for your sharpening and woodworking. An iron is much easier to maintain than it is to fix. A place already set up to sharpen makes it easier to sharpen an iron before it needs it vs. having to set up each time. As for your stones the india or Crystolon make very good course stones. The Spyderco stones work much like good oil stones and are all you need for most applications. The only thing I do not see in that group is a good "polish" stone, you can go a long ways without one by using a strop.

    BTW, those are a good couple of sets of bench chisels. Again you could spend a lot more money and not improve much. I've a set of Sorby firmers like your Marples that have been hanging around my shop for almost 50 years and are still used often.

    As far as using your stones: Set a flat bevel that has a consistent small wire edge with a coarse stone. From that point on it is just a matter of removing the scratches left by the previous stone until you get to the desired polish for the job at hand. Look, feel, and there is no need to test. If it looks sharp and feels sharp it is sharp.

    ken




  13. #13
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    Just read that the medium, fine & ultra-fine Spyderco stones equate to 600, 1800 & 2000 "grit".
    I don't think that is correct. The Medium is around 3000-4000 grit and the Ultra Fine is around 8000-10000 grit.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  14. #14
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    Search Rob Cosman on YouTube for an effective setup.

  15. #15
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    Mike, It looks like you have a decent set of stones and good sets of chisels. Beware of anyone telling you need to invest in more stones or different chisels.

    One of my stones is a King 4000. It was my finest stone for a few years and able to put a fine edge on my blades.

    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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