Woodworking Tips, Tricks and Techniques

 

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Tool Sharpening

 

Tool Sharpening

 
 
 
 

Tool Sharpening doesn't have to be mysterious...

Many woodworkers are intimidated by the very idea of sharpening their tools. There's often a fear of doing more harm than good. This task really isn't as difficult as it might seem. Approached with some patience, and armed with some back round information, it's really a matter of practicing. Knowing you really can't do irreversible harm makes it somewhat less intimidating.

With so many options available it becomes somewhat overwhelming trying to decide which sharpening device will provide the best results, with the least amount of difficulty. Since there are many different tools requiring a very sharp edge for woodworkers, the method chosen will need to be adaptable, or at least have accessories to provide versatility.

Some of the sharpening equipment on the market have a pretty steep price tag and once you start buying accessories for them, the cost can approach a thousand dollars or more! The good news is there are many tools available, at reasonable prices that will provide an edge that will cut as intended.

While I do have the more expensive sharpening equipment and the accessories, I rarely use it unless I have a number of tools needing some serious work. More often, it's a matter of touching up an edge, (unless someone used your finest chisel to open a paint can!). It happens.

Some of the least expensive methods can produce incredible results when used properly. Very often I use a small piece of M.D.F. , "charged" with diamond paste. This paste is available from a number of sources, and is sold in kits. These kits have several tubes of varying grits of the paste and small pieces of M.D.F. included in the box. It's important to wrap them with wax paper after use so as not to contaminate them with different grits.

In using this method, it's important not to push the chisel, as it will quickly destroy the M.D.F. My method consists of placing the chisel on the block, rocking it until I find the proper angle, and pulling it back across the block. Small circular or figure eight patterns are fine, provided vary light pressure is applied to the chisel, forcing it to dig in. Surprisingly, this inexpensive method will put a mirror finish on your edge, although it's not the fastest method available.

Another method of sharpening is using stones. I personally like waterstones, and have a number of them as well. Again, it's important not to contaminate the grits from one stone to the next. Water stones do require flattening, as they are prone to wear. With a stone flattener, this process is very simple and quick.

Another very fast method of dressing an edge is to use a wood, leather, or cloth wheel that has been charged with a honing or polishing compound. These wheels can be used in a drill press, on a lathe or a grinder. Again, never have the edge in a position to dig into the wheel. Hold it so the spinning wheel is rubbing towards the edge and at the existing angle that's already on the tool. This method will bring back an edge very quickly.

I have wheels made from blanks of wood, usually Poplar, which have been charged with polishing compound and are permanently mounted to face plates. These wheels are turned to include coves and beads so I can polish the edge of turning tools. I've had some of these for close to twenty years, and used with care will last indefinitely. I also use these to dress or hone flat chisels as well with equally effective results.

Another inexpensive method is known as "Scary Sharp". This method is basically a piece of plate glass sprinkled with water and a sheet of wet / dry sandpaper laid onto the glass. The reason for the water on the glass is to "stick" the paper on so it doesn't slide around on you. Additional water is sprinkled onto the sandpaper to lubricate the surface and prevent the chisel from sticking to the paper and moving it. This system is also very good and will give you an edge that is hard to beat.

It's important to realize, you don't need to run out and buy the most expensive sharpening equipment to keep your tools sharp. It's far more important to learn the proper use of the system you choose.

Written by: Lee A. Jesberger © 2006-2008

Inventor of Ezee-Feed systems ®

Video -  Sharpening a plane iron freehand

 

Sharpeners & Grinders and Accessories

Including the Tormek Sharpening systems and all kinds of other sharpening accessories.
Tormek Sharpening System
Tormek Sharpening System
JET Slow Speed Wet Sharpener System with FREE Storage Tray and Cover
JET Slow Speed Wet Sharpener System with FREE Storage Tray and Cover
Wolverine Flat Tool Sharpening & Honing Jig
Wolverine Flat Tool Sharpening & Honing Jig
Drill Doctor® 350X Drill Bit Sharpener
Drill Doctor® 350X Drill Bit Sharpener
Drill Doctor® 750X Bit Sharpener
Drill Doctor® 750X Bit Sharpener
India Special Gouge Slip
India Special Gouge Slip
Shop Strop
Shop Strop
Delta® ShopMaster™ Utility Sharpener
Delta® ShopMaster™ Utility Sharpener
Work Sharp™ Wood Tool Sharpener
Work Sharp™ Wood Tool Sharpener
Tormek TTS-100 Turning Tool Setter
Tormek TTS-100 Turning Tool Setter
Leather Power Strop
Leather Power Strop
Norton White Aluminum Oxide Grinding Wheels
Norton White Aluminum Oxide Grinding Wheels
Sharpening Center - Delta Industrial Model 23-710 Sharpening Center 1/5HP, 120V motor
Sharpening Center - Delta Industrial Model 23-710 Sharpening Center 1/5HP, 120V motor
Oneway Wolverine Grinding Jig
Oneway Wolverine Grinding Jig
Sharpening Center - Delta Industrial Model 23-710 Sharpening Center 1/5HP, 120V motor
Sharpening Center - Delta Industrial Model 23-710 Sharpening Center 1/5HP, 120V motor
Wheel Ezze Wheel Dressing Stick
Wheel Ezze Wheel Dressing Stick
Shop Strop
Shop Strop
Micro Fine Honing Compound and Leather Strop
Micro Fine Honing Compound and Leather Strop
Leather Power Strop
Leather Power Strop
Two-Stage Knife Sharpener
Two-Stage Knife Sharpener
Knife Hone Holder
Knife Hone Holder
Honing Guide
Honing Guide
Crown Burnisher
Crown Burnisher

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