Who uses sandpaper on glass?

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Forum topic by Josh posted 05-21-2010 06:00 PM 8487 views 2 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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107 posts in 3800 days

05-21-2010 06:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: trick question sharpening chisel plane

I just watched a woodsmith shop that I dvr’d last night and it was about sharpening chisels. I’ve seen on here where people say they’ve used sand paper to sharpen but I’m curious to see how many of you actually use this method. It seems like it would be a lot cheaper than buying a bunch of stones. I think I might look into giving it a go but I thought I’d check with others and see how many of you use this technique, how well it works for you and if you have any suggestions.

Also, they really seemed to emphasize a honing guide for sharpening on the show, I’m sure all the pro’s on here have one but I don’t and can’t afford one right now. Any tricks on sharpening at a correct angle (or is it angel, I really can’t ever remember how to spell that one) without a honing guide?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

32 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4355 days

#1 posted 05-21-2010 06:06 PM

Hey Josh
I used what’s called the scary sharp method for a long time without a honing guide you just have to keep looking at your chisel or plane blade to see that your not taking more off one side or the other. It’s a matter of holding it at the original angle


View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4426 days

#2 posted 05-21-2010 06:06 PM

you can make a guide out of wood cut at a 25 degree angle

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Josh's profile


107 posts in 3800 days

#3 posted 05-21-2010 06:11 PM

I’ve seen a lot of people reference ‘scary sharp’ as their sharpening method but I didn’t know that method used sandpaper.

PurpLev, when you make a guide out of wood for sharpening, does the length matter at all?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View rep's profile


95 posts in 3887 days

#4 posted 05-21-2010 06:15 PM

The Work Sharp WS3000 Sharpener is a motorized version of sandpaper on glass sharpening.

-- rick

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4426 days

#5 posted 05-21-2010 06:16 PM

you can see a good one here:

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Chris Wright

541 posts in 4259 days

#6 posted 05-21-2010 06:19 PM

I’ve sharpened chisels and plane irons for years without any guide for honing. If you’re the type of woodworker who puts a micro bevel on their tools, then a guide will almost certanly be needed. Having the correct grind on your tool is the first key step. Once that’s achieved then all you need to do is rest the bevel on your abrasive surface (stone or sandpaper) and use moderate pressure near the edge to keep the tool flat and draw the tool back, and before you know it your tool is sharp. If the grind is right, and with some practice you can have a chisel or plane iron ready to cut in a few minutes.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Josh's profile


107 posts in 3800 days

#7 posted 05-21-2010 06:20 PM

Dumb question but I’m gonna ask it just to make sure, is there anything I need to do differently when sharpening a plane iron vs a chisel?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4426 days

#8 posted 05-21-2010 06:26 PM


when I started out, I only had sandpapers to create the bevel, sharpen it and hone it. so I was solely relying on the Veritas MKII honing guide for the entire process of creating the 25 degree bevel, then hone it. since I was sharpening on sandpaper, it meant that I had a straight grind, and it was easy for me to lose the proper angle on the bevel – the honing guide helped A LOT.

ever since I got a slow grinder (or any grinder for that matter) I am now forming a hollow ground bevel which makes it very easy to continue honing the bevel without a need of a guide, and can be done freehand. I have not used my honing guide ever since.

EDIT: and no – there is no difference between sharpening a chisel or a plane iron – except for the angle (depending on the application you are setting your plane for)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Josh's profile


107 posts in 3800 days

#9 posted 05-21-2010 06:36 PM

PurpLev, thanks for the link to the honing jig, I’ll have to see if that is something I can work on making for my shop

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4010 days

#10 posted 05-21-2010 07:29 PM

No glass here. I have a chunk of salvaged granite that I use. I got my guide from Peachtree a the Woodworking Show pretty cheap. Couldn’t do it without a honing guide for sure! It’s not the best guide, but it works, and is reliable..

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3736 days

#11 posted 05-21-2010 07:39 PM

Sand paper is alot cheaper than stones or grinders, and has been around so long that people have certainly gotten good at using it for sharpening. It works “fine”. But this is one of those things that requires definition; what is “sharp”, and how sharp is “sharp”. If you do chisels on sandpaper you can get a well working tool. If you sharpen one with a stone you will end up with a much sharper tool. You can get them hideously sharp with diamond plate type (I forget their real name, sorry) sharpeners. And if you are going to try to get them that sharp a guide would just make sense. At a sharpening seminar I went to they were making plane and chisel faces so smooth they were like chrome finishes. It was truly scary how sharp they were. I think it just matters as to how much you ask of your tool. Generally speaking, most people want their tools as sharp as they can get them; and as they develop the means of getting them sharper they are happier about it. I guess if I had the need to I would find a way to get me a fancier means of sharpening, but for now it’s off to the hardware store for more sandpaper.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3776 days

#12 posted 05-21-2010 08:28 PM

I mix the way I sharpen:

If I am going to do a total rehab on a chisel or plane iron, I get out the sandpaper. It starts a lot coarser and gets me where I want to go more quickly. Lots of room for big strokes.

If I am reshaping an blade, I get out the diamond stones. A cheap 4 sided one with 200, 400, 600, 800 grit. Quick, easy, and pretty consistent.

If I am just refreshing an edge, I pull out a water stone and just hit a strop a few times when I am taking a break.

They all work. It is more a matter of choice. You just need something harder than the steel and mechanical action. If you had the time, you could get anything just as sharp with some rouge and a strop.

Freehand is ok but you waste a lot of time grinding away metal that is not part of the edge you want to make. Practice a lot and you can get pretty consistent but I would rather spend my limited time cutting stuff instead of sharpening stuff. I recently picked up one of the 8” wet grinders to speed up the process but I have not used it enough to really have a solid opinion of it yet. Not a big fan of hollow grind blades but I also am not a big fan of sharpening for hours either.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4363 days

#13 posted 05-21-2010 08:47 PM

This is ok for light honing not for reshapening or serious sharpening though. Where a tool shape might be altered slightly,not new at all this is an ancient method of honing used also by engineers and by scientists with glass which is about as flat an object as you can get cheaply and different abrasive powders mixed with water for sharpening scalpel like tools for microscopy.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

160 posts in 3837 days

#14 posted 05-22-2010 12:38 AM

I use the sandpaper method, but I don’t use glass. I went down to Lowe’s they sell granite squares (12×12) that are flat….and cheap…$4. Then mount the sandpaper and jig and go at it.

-- Les, Missouri,

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 3733 days

#15 posted 05-22-2010 12:56 AM

I learned pretty early on how to do it without a honing guide.

The trick that I learned is to hold the chisel/iron rigidly in your right hand on the bevel, and then use your left hand in a sawing type of motion to push the chisel/iron back and forth on the stone (or sandpaper). Again, your right hand is simply holding the iron/chisel on the bevel, and the left hand pushes it across the medium. Note, that by doing it this way, motion is along the cutting edge of the iron/chisel, and you are much less likely to rock on the bevel (and therefore screw it up).

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