All Replies on Sharpening for beginners

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Sharpening for beginners

by Pyro
posted 11-18-2018 01:15 AM

15 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


18098 posts in 3808 days

#1 posted 11-18-2018 01:22 AM

Whats the budget pyro?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View RichBolduc's profile


1355 posts in 918 days

#2 posted 11-18-2018 01:34 AM

Look for a used Worksharp 3000 unless you consider about $200 low cost.


-- 10% off all products with code LJ10

View Pyro's profile


90 posts in 962 days

#3 posted 11-18-2018 01:35 AM

Lower would definitely be better. I’d like to believe that all I need is a relatively inexpensive honing guide and double sided stone to get started but I lack the experience to know.

View waho6o9's profile


8917 posts in 3378 days

#4 posted 11-18-2018 01:43 AM

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3326 posts in 2296 days

#5 posted 11-18-2018 01:46 AM

lots of existing threada on this topic, some very recent:

More if you search:

I use the Veritas honing guide when I use one.
Less problematic for me than eclipse style, but both work.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Pyro's profile


90 posts in 962 days

#6 posted 11-18-2018 01:49 AM

Thanks Captain. Looking at the titles I wouldn’t have thought these would be so relevant. Much appreciated.

View Aj2's profile


3171 posts in 2599 days

#7 posted 11-18-2018 01:50 AM

Buy a grinder get a white wheel on it. Then hollow grind your blades / chisels. It’s very easy to finish the edge in a fine water stone something like a king or Norton is what most everyone starts with.
Obviously you want to go slow with the grinder so you don’t over heat your steel.
Sandpaper on glass is another way but start with a hollow ground blade / chisel.
Trust me.:)

-- Aj

View Planeman40's profile


1500 posts in 3562 days

#8 posted 11-18-2018 06:04 PM

I have been asked this so many times that I have finally kept a copy for this. My sharpening thoughts and method are derived after 60 plus years of woodworking. It pertains to carving tools which have to be the very sharpest, but relates to all sharpening.

Carving tools must RAZOR sharp! Even the best carving tools are never really sharp enough when purchased. So you must learn to sharpen until you can literally shave the hair off your forearm. Yes, this is the actual final test.
As to “stones”, everybody has their preferences and in the end they all seem to work. The object is to use the coarsest “stones” to shape the blade and bring it to a sharp edge. Then you begin polishing the edge until it is a mirror finish. In the process a “wire edge” will be produced that will bend/break off. You have to get rid of this. The best way I have found is to jab the blade edge into the end grain of a piece of wood. This knocks the wire edge off to get you back to solid metal. So work your way sharpening through finer and finer “stones” (three is usually enough) until you get to that “almost” razor sharpness. Then you finish up with “honing” with super fine abrasive in a leather “strop”, polishing even more. Stop every so often between “stones” to remove as above any wire edge that has formed. Test by shaving on your forearm. If it isn’t sharp enough, go back a step or two and repeat. Once you have a razor sharp blade you will only need a quick strop from time to time as you work.

My preference for “stones” (I write it this way as old fashion actual stones have been replaced by more modern grits like diamonds, etc.) is to shape the rough and abused blade with a coarse diamond sharpener. This works fast but leaves deep scratches in the steel. You then have to begin remove these scratches by polishing the steel. You can use finer diamond “stones’, water stones, carborundum stones, Arkansas stones, etc. to do the polishing. I use finer diamond stones for this. Then I move to Arkansas stones to finish the sharpening before honing. I prefer Arkansas stones as they work well and stay flat over time, unlike water stones which are very soft and wear. These have to be “flattened” periodically.

I have found that being able to actually see the edge under magnification is a great help to knowing how you are doing. I use a cheap Harbor Freight 2x (power) lens visor to do this. The trick is to view the edge straight on using a very bright light. If the edge is not sharp, you will see the edge as a thin bright strip of light reflecting off the edge. If the edge is sharp there will be no light reflecting off the edge.

I make my own leather strops to various shapes and sizes using leather bought from Tandy leather supply ( You have to embed the leather surface with a fine abrasive. This can be bought online from most of the woodworking sources. Personally, I use Turtle Wax car polish for this.

And while we are on “sharpening”, don’t forget the use of a sharpening “steel”. These are the round things you often see fancy chefs use on their knife when cutting a roast. These are round in shape and have fine grooves like a file. What happens to a razor sharp edge, especially a narrow one, it the edge gets bent some to the side in use. The steel straightens out the edge. It only works with an already sharp edge so it can be classified as a type of hone. Great things! I use a little one on my cutting edges.


As for the use of a Tormek type sharpener, I simply modified a Harbor Freight powered sharpener that uses a water cooled wheel with a Tormek type blade holder. The strange black thing on the left is the blade holder, a junk part of a medical device I found and cut down. You can make the same with some wood, a hinge, and a hold-down of some type. Works great!! Good for shaping and sharpening, but you still need to hand polish and do some final polishing and honing.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5294 posts in 4762 days

#9 posted 11-18-2018 06:50 PM

The Eclipse style guide is still available. They do work well for the $12.00+ ya might spend.
I use stones, a Makita wet sharpener, and ceramics. Diamond paddles for the small stuff.
A strop is a must in my shop. Green chromium oxide.

-- [email protected]

View Pyro's profile


90 posts in 962 days

#10 posted 11-28-2018 12:35 AM

Wow Planeman, that was quite the response. Glad you saved it.

I got a cheap eclipse style jig. Modified it after watching the lie nielsen video. I’ve put in about 6+ hours and I can’t get a chisel of any size to sit straight and flat. I’ve tried everything I can think of and I’m frustrated as hell. I’ve been able to hand sharpen a bit but it’s slow. Honestly I can’t believe anyone takes a fairly out of shape chisel and gets it sharp enough to work with by hand.

I’m almost to the point where I’d just plop down the money for a work sharp 3000. If I had more time and experience using hand tools I could plop down the cash easier but as it is I’m still a beginner. Definitely considering looking for a used wet grinder like you have there Planeman and doing the rest by hand via sandpaper until I can afford some decent diamond stones or something.

View OSU55's profile


2649 posts in 2791 days

#11 posted 11-28-2018 01:20 AM

This is focused on plane irons but I just use a smaller shop made jig for chisels, and the back of chisels are honed flat vs the variation on the ruler trick for irons. All the basic principals still apply. Hard to find a jig that always provides a square edge by just placing the chisel in it. Learn to take a a swipe or 2 and read the edge, and apply light pressure to get a square edge. A sharpie works well to show where contact is, and I use a small 12x lighted magnifier (review here) for inspection.

I tried the eclipse and general tool style jigs and have much better success with the shop made style.

View Planeman40's profile


1500 posts in 3562 days

#12 posted 11-28-2018 02:48 AM

Don’t give up Pyro. What takes time is SHAPING the blade. That is (to me) is getting the blade flat and to all of the right angles and up to taking the blade to “rough” sharpness, which is getting an edge to the point where the edge does NOT show light when viewed with a bright light (see my notes above). all of this is done with coarse stones. At this point you want to remove the “wire” edge (see above) and begin polishing the edge to razor sharpness with a series of finer stones and honing. Once properly shaped and sharpened, a quick hone will keep the edge sharp.

As to the eclipse jig, I have been using one with no problems. It is arranged to have a “tripod” base to allow the chisel edge to be parallel with the stone surface. What can throw you off is not having an EVEN pressure on the chisel edge while sharpening with the eclipse jig. Adjust your hand and finger position on the blade when sharpening and keep an eye on the bottom of the blade edge to make sure you are sharpening evenly. You will get the hang of it.

Sharpening is an “art” that is so basic to woodworking that it MUST be learned! Watch some YouTube “how to” videos on the subject. That is the most help you can get without a personal expert to teach you.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Aj2's profile


3171 posts in 2599 days

#13 posted 11-28-2018 04:00 AM

I like planemans grinder set up that real nice.
Take a look at Phil lowes sharping set up its very good and very much the way I handle plane blades and chisels.
Good luck on your journey

-- Aj

View HokieKen's profile


14494 posts in 1940 days

#14 posted 11-28-2018 02:33 PM

I have stones and guides aplenty and used them for a long time. But I picked up a WS3000 on a whim off of CL and have never looked back. It’s not the best for everything but IMO, anything that has a flat back and a flat bevel, like chisels and plane irons, belongs on it. And the up-front cost seems pricey. But you aren’t going to get out any cheaper using stones in the long run. Far from it.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View BlasterStumps's profile


1700 posts in 1241 days

#15 posted 11-28-2018 03:03 PM

I found an old style guide and an angle guide and tried to use them. Didn’t get along well with them. Then one day I decided to make a disc style sharpener for the initial sharpening tasks such as establishing the angle and repairing damaged edges. I haven’t looked back. I can flatten the back, establish the angle and cut the new face on the sandpaper discs, then I free-hand sharpen from there on a duo diamond stone, then use a water stone to give it a final touch before going back to the disc with a strope surface. I don’t hollow grind.

-- "...I've been through the desert on a horse with no name." So name the damned horse already!

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