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Thread: Sharpening Plane Irons and Chisels, Sandpaper?

  1. #1

    Sharpening Plane Irons and Chisels, Sandpaper?

    I have a CBN wheel coming for my half speed Delta grinder, and am setting up the Wolverine tool rest. I want to use a granite tile and wet dry sandpaper to flatten my waterstones and hone my tools. I also bought one of the cheap Wood River honing guides which doesn't look too bad. What brand/type of sandpaper works best?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Columbus, Ohio
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    486
    John,

    You may want to repost this over in Neanderthal haven or have one of the mods move this thread there. Lots of sharpening talk over there.

    As for an answer to your question, I’ve always just used wet/dry aluminum oxide paper commonly used for auto body work since it’s locally available. However, I soon learned that paper was much more expensive in the long run and bought a coarse (500) Atoma diamond plate and Shapton GlassStones. I use the Atoma to flatten the GlassStones.

    I’m not an expert by any means, but I’d imagine people will want to know what water stones you already have, and what additional you are hoping to achieve with sandpaper. If you already have a CBN wheel coming, and you have a few water stones, it may be best to just invest in a stone or two, and/or a stop and some honing compound.

    If you’re set on disposable media, and your looking for “the best”, you may want to check out Lee Valley as they stock multiple types of sharpening films (I see diamond, aluminum oxide, and micro-abrasive). I’ve always been too impatient when it comes to such a commodity and have locally sourced aluminum oxide wet/dry paper from NAPA or other auto supplies stores. I know many people have mentioned being happy with the sharpening films from Lee Valley. If I was still using paper and/or film, and since I can’t just run down the street to the store anymore, I’d order a variety from lee valley and see what works best with my steel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Silicon Valley, CA
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    645
    Most sand paper will cut most metal used in hand tools. Wet / dry will allow you to use a lubricant (water w/ a few drops of dish soap is easy/common). If you have some less common super-steel, the diamond films (e.g. from LV) or the grinder belts with ceramic abrasive (e.g. 3M's Trizac???, forget name) might be necessary. Also, auto supply stores are more likely to have finer grit papers than the paint section at your hardware / big box store.

    Search "scary sharp" on this site for a gazillion specific recommendations.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Perth, Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Middleton View Post
    I have a CBN wheel coming for my half speed Delta grinder, and am setting up the Wolverine tool rest. I want to use a granite tile and wet dry sandpaper to flatten my waterstones and hone my tools. I also bought one of the cheap Wood River honing guides which doesn't look too bad. What brand/type of sandpaper works best?
    Jon, you may want to say what grit the CBN wheel is that you have. For plane blade and bench chisels I recommend 180 grit.

    The honing guide is a copy of the Eclipse, a great standard, no longer made. Unfortunately, the Chinese copies require tuning to work well (such removing paint and filing the base flat).

    I would stay away from sandpaper if you want optimum results. For a primary bevel, a 1000 diamond stone, and polish on 8000 Pro Shapton. That is a basic system.

    Honing guides are for creating secondary bevels. Do not attempt to hone full bevels. You will waste time and effort. The idea of sharpening is to be repeatable, and you need to make up a simple jig to set up the honing guide to set the angles each time.

    25 degree primary and 30 degree secondary will work for all blades.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    8,841
    I guess I'd better start popping the Pop Corn....salted? Buttered? Plain? Caramel?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Stone Mountain, GA
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    594
    Sandpaper works fine, it's just more annoying to use. Needs to be stuck down well, either PSA paper or using spray adhesive. When you want to change you have to remove the adhesive residue, etc.

    What I like sandpaper for is coarse work, because I've found coarse stones of all types to be lacking. Either they don't stay flat or don't stay fast cutting. And since I only do coarse work (like flattening a chisel back for example) very occasionally, the hassle isn't much of a burden. For everyday honing a stone is much more convenient, and is just nicer to use. However I think you can get a perfectly good edge with sandpaper alone.

    You mentioned you have waterstones, so I'd use those for sharpening tools. IF you are missing a grit then fill in with sandpaper.

    For the coarse sandpaper grits I normally use, 80 and 220, I like Mirka Gold. Though I doubt there is a huge difference between brands.

  7. #7
    I have some basic waterstones, 400/1000 and 3000/8000. I guess I just need to keep them flat. I ordered the CBN from Rob Cosman, an 80 grit. He has an interesting take on sharpening, establishing the primary bevel with the coarse wheel, taking it all the way down to just short of the edge. Then just honing a tiny secondary bevel with a 16000 grit stone. I'll try the coarse wheel, it's just a matter of getting the bevel even across the tool. The sandpaper could be used to flatten the stones, I guess, or maybe buying a stone from Sharpening Supplies. Rob uses a diamond lapping plate, but those are quite expensive.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2014
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    The easiest surface to use sandpaper on is a granite surface plate. It has just enough texture that a film of water will hold the sandpaper in place, without having to glue it down, which makes changing grit sizes really easy. I still use sandpaper for sharpening some things, like 8" jointer knives. If you don't wear a sheet out, it can be rinsed, and left on the sink to dry for next time.

    Woodcraft sells nice granite surface plates, usually on sale several times a year for around 30 bucks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Middleton View Post
    ... Rob uses a diamond lapping plate, but those are quite expensive.
    I'd argue not in the long run. Many options for diamond flatten plates. Atoma plates, while not perfect and not the cheapest, are generally well respected for flattening. Some people have reported good luck with the really cheap generic plates from China. Others have reported problems, e.g. not flat or poorly bonded diamonds.

    I really like Japanese Knife Imports' store brand diamond flattening plate. Cheaper than Atoma, (unless Amazon has a stupid cheap moment,) and I know and trust the owner, Jon, to insure the quality:

    https://www.japaneseknifeimports.com...attening-plate

    Their store front is shutdown with Los Angeles' shutdown / shelter orders, but they've been allowed to resume shipping.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Stone Mountain, GA
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    The sandpaper will work well enough for flattening water stones. The diamond stones are just more convenient.

    I agree with Tom about the granite surface plate. Woodcraft sells one that is 6" wide and 18" long, which is perfect for the sorts of tasks woodworkers would use a surface plate for. And dead flat, which is not necessarily true for a granite tile.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    Sandpaper wears out awfully fast flattening stones. I bought two replacement Atoma sheets-140, and 400, and put them on one of those Woodcraft granite surface plates, but my sharpening sink drainboard has room for several surface plates, and one double swivel spout covers anything on that drainboard. I don't know where you would get the replacement sheets, these days, though. Stu got his Sister to pick them up for me back when he was doing that sort of thing. We do a Lot of sharpening though, working on the old houses.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    I used sandpaper for a while, with a piece of float glass for a backing plate to keep the sandpaper flat. It worked just fine, but the price of the sandpaper eventually got my attention.

    Then I "upgraded" to a various sizes of abrasive grit, just the grit in jars and was getting sections of close out vinyl floor tile from my local flooring place cheap/free. It didn't take long to realize my edges were changing the shape of the surface of the vinyl flooring that was carrying the adhesive- and my edges were coming out crowned instead of square. So I stopped doing that. Do not do this. I can send you some grit free if you need to convince yourself. Try them on one blade that needs a lot of work anyway, then go back and do it right.

    I went to diamond stones because I don't have running water in my shop.

    If you do have running water, and a drain, and some water stones already, I would seriously suggest you look at filling out your water stone collection. The folks that have them - and are set up to use them - rave about them. Maybe one diamond plate for water stone flattening. Besides no running water and no drain, my shop also gets below freezing a couple times annually, very very bad for waterstones and plumbing.

    Since my coarsest diamond plate is 300 grit, I do still occasionally bust out the plate glass and sandpaper when I need 60/100/220 to get up on the 300 grit diamond stone with a new to me vintage tool, but my diamond stones paid for themselves in sandpaper $ savings fairly quickly.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    South Coastal Massachusetts
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    Whatever works fast enough that you'll keep blades sharp is a good choice. I figure for most of us occasional woodworkers, the costs are comparable over the years.

    I never found sandpaper sufficiently durable to survive my hamfisted attempts to sharpen.

    My two oil stones and a strop fit in a Tupperware tote.

  14. #14
    Hi Jon: I was able to get 4 nice long pieces of tempered plate glass by looking on buy/sell websites for someone getting rid of old fireplace screens/enclosures. Regular old wet/dry sandpaper sheets from the hardware store work ok, but I glue them to the glass with 3M adhesive. Water will make them stick, but also makes them tear too easily.
    I have also used the micro films sheets for the finer grits with success, and being plastic film, they don't tear like the paper.

  15. #15
    Flatten your coarsest waterstone however you like and then use it to flatten your other finer stones. Rinse them all and off you go. Sandpaper is expensive, a bit annoying to use and pretty messy. My opinion only. But I do use it on granite to flatten my 800 grit stone.

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