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Thread: Which tool sharpening system?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
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    3,222
    If you want repeatability, then you need something that helps you set the angle. If your tools are already sharp, a honing guide can help you with that.

    My mostly final solution was a Tormek, which does a great job of helping you set the angle. With the hollow grind, I am then able to free hand on my stones more easily than with a totally flat edge. Obviously your success will vary in that department. So, why do I really like it? While using my chisels, I can very quickly pop over and touch them up free hand and get back to work. I rarely need to go back to the Tormek.

    I would expect that with a slow grinder and an setup for setting angles consistently, you could do this without the Tormek, but, the Tormek was the first powered system that provided almost instant success for me.

    I used to own a Worksharp system, and many here have had great success with it. I did manage to get things sharp with it, but, I needed to use use a platform on the top (for some reason, I was never able to get the part allowing you to sharpen a chisel from the underside of the disk to work and that was before I was on this forum so I really had nobody to ask). The worst part was that even with the platform, I had significant problems with skewing; which I have not seen anyone mention here before. The reason I had problems I am sure was related to the fact that while using the platform, the edge was placed onto a spinning disk that was running perpendicular to the sharp edge (moving left to right) and I always had problems on that left side. This was my first mechanical sharpening system and I had no idea what I was doing, and although I was able to get sharp edges, I was sufficiently unhappy with the system that I eventually gave it to the husband of my wife's friend who lives a couple of days drive away so I have no idea if he ever used it.

    Tormek was my next purchase and I had instant success with chisels and plane blades.

    In the years that I have had my Tormek, I have found blades that did not want to sit well in the jig (sides might be uneven, for example) and some very short blades without an appropriate jig, and what if you do not want a hollow grind? And each jig is pretty expensive.

    Years ago, I tried to sharpen some knives on my Tormek and was not really happy with the results. Now that I can get a decent edge free hand knife sharpening, I will probably try it again on the Tormek. Note that I had great luck with the WorkSharp knife sharpening systems that use a belt. For keeping it sharp, I also like the Spyderco with the bars held at an angle, but you are not asking about that.

    I did not notice where you live, but if you are anywhere near the middle of Ohio, you should try my Tormek and some other things that I have to get a feel for them. I am a big fan of trying a system before you commit, especially if it is a lot of money. If you stick with stones (or similar), decide if you want something that you soak or something that you do not. I did not like soaking my water stones so I currently own Shapton stones that I do not need to soak. I also own diamond stones and lots of Oil stones. There is a different "feel" for all of them. At the end of the day, I get what I feel is the best edge when I go from my Tormek to my Shapton stones 5K (Professional) ending with the 16K glass stone. Some people do not like the feel of the 5K, but having used it for years I don't know any better. I do own a bunch of glass stones (2K, 4K, 6K...) and even an 8K Professional. I don't have a lot of preference, but I generally finish on the 16K if using water stones.

    Sometimes, while working, I just keep a few Dans Arkansas stones sitting out. I do not need to worry about them dishing and it leaves a decent edge especially when the chisel is mostly sharp anyway and I just need to clean it up right quick. Flip a coin as to how I will go with it since I own them both.

    I usually flatten things on sandpaper so in theory I do not need a bunch of different grits, but I can also use my diamonds if I want. If things are really out of hand, I might use my Norton Crystolon or India stones to get started. Those Crystolon stones are really fast but they leave a rougher surface. I would not do a total final flattening on one if for no other reason than because they wear quickly so probably not as flat. Far more likely to do that for knives that are out of wack if I do not want to use a powered system for some reason.

    If you can find someone near you who has a system that you would like to try, I highly recommend that. In the grand scheme of things, a simple guide is not overly expensive and you can use sandpaper on glass (or similar) to get a feel for how that works without spending a bunch. Problem with a Tormek (or similar) is that you just spent a $1000 and if you do not like it, that is a problem.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    905
    I started off with shapton water stones and the veritas MK jig. It always felt painfully slow, and the jig is a little finicky to setup. I cant remember ever having a perfectly square edge after setting up with their angle guide. I think there is room for improvement in that regard. I then jumped at an opportunity to pick up a ton of shapton glass stones. I much prefer the glass stones to the waterstones, if you have a choice. This method always worked pretty well. It is slow, but my chisels and plane irons were sharp enough. The downside is i needed a separate method for sharpening my kitchen knives. This is where the Tormek entered my life. I picked one up used with a bunch of jigs and used it for a month before selling all the shapton and veritas gear. You still need a stone or two for lapping backs, but the tormek is 50x faster than doing it by hand. Is the edge as sharp as doing it by hand? I cant say i really notice a difference. I had a shapton glass stone up to 16k, and i think thats a bit overkill. Once you hit 4-8k, its about as sharp as its going to get for an amateur. I keep thinking around grabbing a strop with honing compound to touch up edges quickly, and that might be something i add to the arsenal eventually. I could always use the tormek's leather wheel and honing compound to achieve the same effect, i suppose. If you have a variety of edges to sharpen and arent fanatical about looking at bevels under a microscope, then i think the Tormek is very fast and user-friendly. I dont see myself going back anytime soon.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    Posts
    9
    I was using water stones but was getting tired of the mess from that method. I switched to PSA sand paper on float glass but my fingers would start hurting and if I needed to correct the bevel or a chip it was too much. I picked up a work sharp 3000 and in minutes had a new primary & secondary bevel on all my chisels. They were not only sharp but I no longer waited to long between re-sharpening. It is kind of strange but my dovetails improved since I can pare an edge so easily now. I haven't tried to do any plane irons yet so that jury is still out on that. So far I am happy with the work sharp for my needs.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
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    6,792
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    For western blades:

    - hollow grind on a bench grinder with a CBN wheel

    400 grit to remove the wear

    30000 grit microbevel

    take off the burr on the 30k stone

    back to work.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    251
    Blog Entries
    1
    The “Unicorn Sharpening Method” looks like a real game changer!

    I only have a dremel buffing wheel and quickly tried it with incredible results! I have a buffing wheel on order now.

    While it doesn’t appear completely new, it does appear to have new thought behind it with real potential of how to go about sharpening as well as the properties of the metal.

    It appears both the Rc ~62 hardness CV metal along with much cheaper and softer alloys benefit from this. But it hints that there could be an even better combination that could be optimized fir this method.

    It’s interesting when I looked at other posts about using a buffing wheel and/or stropping methods that it was always dismissed that even though it proved quick and very sharp that it just wasn’t as good because it had a radius associated with it. It appears he saw this supposed detriment as a potential advantage. I’m thinking this may truly be an advantage to provide strength to the edge as opposed to a brittle point edge.

    It’s certainly cheap to try as well as quick. It may be the unicorn I was hoping to find. My one try with a dremel sure has me thinking this is the way to go. I just need to define the methods a bit better and my tools may become sharp!!

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,839
    I use a hand cranked grinder for heavy work. That is followed by a 3M deburring wheel for rough shaping.

    I use oil stones for my beloved (soft) O1 quenched Marples chisels. Once the burr is raised a buffing wheel gets the last bit. (Rust is a problem in my shop)

    Were I to start from scratch, I would use a grinder with CBN wheel as it can do most or the heavy lifting, with most any steel.

    ***
    Caution with a Dremel is in order - those rotate at very high speeds, over a small surface area. Considerable heat may be generated, quickly.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Andrews View Post
    One note about the Veritas side clamp guide; it doesn’t work well with all chisels. I think it depends on the edge profile, and probably works best with better made chisels where the sides aren’t too squared off. I’ve used mine for a couple of weeks with my Marples chisels and they don’t lay consistently flat in the guide, so one edge is lower than the other leading to skewed bevels. I can eventually get it flat by trial and error, but the amount of time it was taking led me down the path of free hand sharpening for my secondary bevels.

    I was going to return mine, but decided to keep it because I’m ordering a full set of Veritas PM-V11 bench chisels once they are back in stock.
    I also have this issue Veritas side clamp guide. I too own Marples and it's very easy to tighten the guide and find the chisel's edges NOT in the groves. My Buck Bros bang arounds will not even sit straight in the guide. It's unfortunate because the guide has a lot going for it. Veritas if you're listening, this issue needs to be addressed.

    Maybe I'll take a file to the groves, or just call them to see if I can apply the cost to their Mark II which seems by all accounts the crème de la crème in the honing guide arena.
    Thanks,
    Fred

  8. #38
    Fred, there doesn't seem to be the perfect guide out there. I also own the Mk 11, and it's a great guide and the blades always lay flat, but with one issue; it's very easy for the chisel to swing left or right out of square. Others have commented about this problem, although some people state that it's user error. As much as I hate doing it, I use a pair of padded pliers to tighten down the knobs, and that solves the problem for me.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Andrews View Post
    Fred, there doesn't seem to be the perfect guide out there. I also own the Mk 11, and it's a great guide and the blades always lay flat, but with one issue; it's very easy for the chisel to swing left or right out of square. Others have commented about this problem, although some people state that it's user error. As much as I hate doing it, I use a pair of padded pliers to tighten down the knobs, and that solves the problem for me.
    I just called Lee Valley. First off, their cust service answered 2nd ring so a good start. I explained the issue and told the rep I used the guide several times....rep said that doesn't matter if I was not happy I could return it or have another sent out. I said I wanted to return the guide....rep apologized and directed me to their pre-paid return label. Rep then explained the side clamp was a newer item and asked if I would kindly include a few comments on how I thought the engineers could improve the tool. To me, that is old school customer service by a company inclined to improve their products....fairly rare these days.

    Tim do you think a strip of stick on sand paper would resolve the swing issue on the MK II? I was about to order the MK II...
    Thanks,
    Fred

  10. #40
    Not sure about the sandpaper, maybe others have tried it.

  11. #41
    This is a timely thread for me as I about to change sharpening up in my shop. I'm staying with a honing guide, and a strop to finish, but I just ordered 3M microfinishing films hoping to move away from stones. Currently, it takes 10 times longer to ready the stones than to it does to sharpen the tools, which only take a few minutes. I'm also hoping to have less mess/cleanup with the films.

    If I need to reestablish a bevel, or refurbish a yard sale chisel, I go cheapskate and install a 2x36 belt on my 4x36 belt sander using this jig idea I tweaked a bit. Using a belt sander is awkward to say the least but I don't need to do reestablish bevels that frequently. At some point I'll move on from the belt sander, but I have one in college and another a year away lol.
    Thanks,
    Fred

  12. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Andrews View Post
    Not sure about the sandpaper, maybe others have tried it.
    Just a thought. It may be one of those things that look good on paper just not practical.
    Thanks,
    Fred

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,997
    Quote Originally Posted by fred everett View Post
    I also have this issue Veritas side clamp guide. I too own Marples and it's very easy to tighten the guide and find the chisel's edges NOT in the groves. My Buck Bros bang arounds will not even sit straight in the guide. It's unfortunate because the guide has a lot going for it. Veritas if you're listening, this issue needs to be addressed.

    Maybe I'll take a file to the groves, or just call them to see if I can apply the cost to their Mark II which seems by all accounts the crème de la crème in the honing guide arena.
    Fred, I suspect that you are expecting too much from this guide. Not all guides suit the chisels are are to hold. There are a range of side clamp and top clamp guides around, and they all have cons for every pro with specific chisels.

    Side clamp guides are not suited to tapering blades. In the case of this Veritas guide and the LN guide, both have fairly steep side walls. This limits the thickness of the blade, and it also make it less easy to fit and secure. I have both these guides (in the case of the Veritas, I began using it several years ago as part of pre-production testing). The LN is my go-to for shorter plane blades, such as BU blades, and it is tricky to get the fit cleanly at the sides. Thinner shoulder plane blades are easier. The Veritas is the same here.

    Here is the Veritas with a thick blade. It works but takes care to set up ...



    It is somewhat ironical that the Veritas side clamp guide is poorly suited for their own block plane blade. Here the taper is at the rear ...



    Blades with even sides are rewarded with a solid fitting and a square bevel ...



    The Veritas Mk ll top clamp is the best all rounder, and will do skew angles. The side clamp accessory is a killer for smaller blades, and is not limited by taper as the side walls are more vertical. However, it is much more expensive, and care needs to be taken to seat the back if the blade otherwise it will rock. THAT is the reason the Veritas side clamp and the LN side clamp have such acute side walls - to provide a registration for the back of the blade.

    Is there a more suitable side clamp guide for your particular chisels (other than the Mk ll)? Perhaps the original Eclipse, as the side walls are more vertical. However, consider these to be a kit, and you often need to file them square.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  14. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Fred, I suspect that you are expecting too much from this guide. Not all guides suit the chisels are are to hold. There are a range of side clamp and top clamp guides around, and they all have cons for every pro with specific chisels.

    Side clamp guides are not suited to tapering blades. In the case of this Veritas guide and the LN guide, both have fairly steep side walls. This limits the thickness of the blade, and it also make it less easy to fit and secure. I have both these guides (in the case of the Veritas, I began using it several years ago as part of pre-production testing). The LN is my go-to for shorter plane blades, such as BU blades, and it is tricky to get the fit cleanly at the sides. Thinner shoulder plane blades are easier. The Veritas is the same here.

    Here is the Veritas with a thick blade. It works but takes care to set up ...



    It is somewhat ironical that the Veritas side clamp guide is poorly suited for their own block plane blade. Here the taper is at the rear ...



    Blades with even sides are rewarded with a solid fitting and a square bevel ...



    The Veritas Mk ll top clamp is the best all rounder, and will do skew angles. The side clamp accessory is a killer for smaller blades, and is not limited by taper as the side walls are more vertical. However, it is much more expensive, and care needs to be taken to seat the back if the blade otherwise it will rock. THAT is the reason the Veritas side clamp and the LN side clamp have such acute side walls - to provide a registration for the back of the blade.

    Is there a more suitable side clamp guide for your particular chisels (other than the Mk ll)? Perhaps the original Eclipse, as the side walls are more vertical. However, consider these to be a kit, and you often need to file them square.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Thanks for the great info Derek. You're correct regarding my expectations from the Veritas Side Clamping Guide (VSCG) as their customer service rep echoed this. The rep said the VSCG was designed for the shape of their Veritas chisels, which I understand, but that's NOT what is stated in their description. I am not annoyed by this considering the excellent customer service I received, and like other Veritas products the VSCG is high quality. If you own only Veritas chisels the VSCG would be a home run for you.

    I'm still determined to move on from my arsenal of $15 honing guides AND the stones. I ordered the MKII w/o the side option to start.....it seems 50/50 regarding the issue of chisels moving out of square. We'll see where I fall. The project I'm designing will require around 100 dovetails so sharp chisels are a must.
    Thanks,
    Fred

  15. #45
    Hi y'all, this is my 1st day on the site/community and my first submission. For starters, I am so impressed with all of the helpful input, suggestions and guidance that is offered here! This is supposed to be a touchy subject with many adamant opinions but I don't see even the slightest bit of animosity and/or condescension anywhere in the thread. I think I may have found a great group of people/community and am increasingly excited to be here.

    All that said, I am just a novice WW but sharpening has always been a pain in the ass for me. While getting into the hobby, i found it hard to justify spending the $$ on quality sharpening equipment and, like everything else, that's the worst way to go about any part of building your shop's tools/equipment. So I finally bit the bullet and bought the Trend Diamond plate, a 6000 grit Shapton glass stone & a 16,000 grit Shapton glass stone. While this bumped up my game immensely from the DMT double sided yellow stone, I for some reason, am not really able to get a good "slurry" at all when I transition from the diamond plate to the shapton stones. While on the glass stones, it doesnt feel like anything is happening to the edge and again, I get zero slurry! So much so that I returned/exchanged them, thinking that something was wrong with them and I am having the same issue with the replacements that were sent. I actually didn't have to even send back the original stones for some reason, amazon just sent replacements and I was able to keep the others. So now I have 2 sets of stones that I can't figure out how to use! I have spent so much time with the coarse grit side of the Diamond plate, trying to flatten the glass stones, drawing grids and lapping until they disappear but still, the same results when try to sharpen my blades. Not sure if it is not proper etiquette or not, to ask a question in another's post but I am sure you all will let me know if not.

    While I am still able to get my blades more than enough sharp using the Trend plate and then "pretending" that I am getting anything done on the Shapton stones, I definitely am not achieving the mirror finishes that I see in all of the youtube vids that I watch and again the part that I feel constantly reminds me that I am not doing it right is that I get no SLURRY! Can't a guy get a little slurry after spending $500 on sharpening equipment?! Man o' man! Anyhow, glad to have found this place and any input here would help and thanks for all the info already given on this topic thus far. Cheers!

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