how to sharpen

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Blog entry by ShogunJimi posted 04-13-2016 04:59 PM 1095 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In this you-tube Video, I explore the question, “How to sharpen a new chisel? I understand that there are many different strategies for this task but as a novice creating this video allowed me to focus on the keys points. The process that is demonstrated is broken down into three phases.

First: An Oil Stone is used and can be found for about twenty dollars on Amazon as “Stanley 16-050 Sharpening System.” The stone itself must first be flattened and to do this 220 grit sandpaper is used on a scrap “of plywood. Working the chisel on this stone I use plenty of oil to assist with debris removal. This step sets up the chisel so that the whetstone can remove its marks.

Second: A Whetstone is used and can also be found for about twenty dollars on Amazon as “Japanese King Knife Sharpener Whetstone Grit 6000 HT-43/S-45.” The stone itself must be flattened and to do this a diamond plate is used. Or as a substitute strategy a 400 grit (or above) sandpaper block could be attempted. This stone needs to be used with lots of water. Many whetstones need to be soaked but not this one. Just apply water when working to remove debris. This stone creates a nice and crisp edge but leaves very minor scratches.

Third: A homemade leather strop is used with a buffing compound which can be found on Amazon as “Woodstock D2902 1-Pound Extra Fine Buffing Compound, Green” for around ten dollars. The strop is constructed with two pieces of scrap wood and leather glued on the surface. Apply buffing compound by stroking the block across the surface of the strop. This final step brings about a nice mirror finish and removes any scratches, at least visually.

The actual sharpening technique is to work your way through the phases. The flat edge is worked first and then I move to the beveled edge to complete each phase. On a new chisel this will take several cycles of cleaning using lots of oil or water. The flat edge is easy but don’t be fooled there is a lot of experience to be gained on this technique.

Sharpening the beveled edge presents the greatest challenge. When starting freehand sharpening I suggest buying a set of budget friendly chisels to practice with. When you present you blade to the stone flat-side-up approach with the chisel nearly flat and slowly raise it up to match the bevel angle. At this point, lock your arms in their current position and move your body in a back and forth motion. This does take some practice but once you get the rhythm it starts to feel natural.

A rather large amount of video time working the chisels against the stones was removed to make a better presentation. I suggest stopping and inspecting the chisel about every 50 to 100 strokes especially with the oilstone and 25 to 50 strokes on the whetstone. After the initial grind with the strop the final touches to a very sharp edge will be about 2 or 3 stokes then inspecting. Only experience or temperament will decide when to move to the next phase or to end. A word of warning; there is a big jump between the oil and whetstone. So any large marks left behind and the whet stone will be unable to remove them. This means that you may have to return to the oilstone and start the process all over again.

-- Only a woodworker will value a good screw-up

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