Sharping System, Which One?

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Forum topic by doninvegas posted 12-25-2010 02:41 AM 2514 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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334 posts in 3412 days

12-25-2010 02:41 AM

If you were going to buy a sharping system which one would you but today? I don’t have a lot of planes or chisels but the ones I do have I need to keep sharp ‘cause I can’t just toss them and buy more. So, which one?

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

26 replies so far

View bluchz's profile


187 posts in 3878 days

#1 posted 12-25-2010 02:51 AM

Worksharp 3000 from the home depot today it’s on sale for cheap!

-- flash=250,100][/flash]

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3542 days

#2 posted 12-25-2010 02:54 AM

The Worksharp 3000 is on sale some places for $150. You can’t beat that price, and it is a pretty foolproof system. I’ll second the recommendation.

-- David from Indiana --

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4327 days

#3 posted 12-25-2010 11:25 AM

Don, here is another vote for the Worksharp 3000. I struggled to find a way to keep my chisels and plane irons sharp and never could get the edge that I wanted until buying the Worksharp.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View shopdog's profile


579 posts in 3990 days

#4 posted 12-25-2010 01:15 PM

I love power tools as much as anyone, but sharpening my chisels and plane blades is something I prefer to do by hand. I have been using the scary sharp system for years, and you just can’t beat the results…and the satisfaction of doing it by hand.
1/4” plate glass, PSA backed sandpaper in grits from 80 to 2000 (or regular sandpaper and spray adhesive), and a Lee Valley/Veritas jig. I have the older jig, not the MK2.
I bought a delta sharpening system, maybe 15 years ago, and it’s in my shop somewhere…covered in dust.

-- Steve--

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3419 days

#5 posted 12-25-2010 05:15 PM

I skipped the 1/4” plate glass and bought a $4.50 granite tile from HD for my “base plate.” I use 320 and 600 grit wet sandpaper (w/WD40) and a honing guide. to set the angle. Capilary action holds the paper in place. I then move to a Hard Arkansas oil stone (the black side) with the honing guide still in place.

I have less than $50 invested and all of my chisels and plane blades can be used for shaving. FWIW, you can spend several hundreds of $$$ on all kinds of alternatives if you have the excess money to burn, but you won’t get any sharper. Those who tell you otherwise WON”T tell you that as soon as you touch your newly sharpened blade to your latest project that that latest “super-duper scare your butt-cheeks off sharpening” that you just completed, will dull right back to a rather equitable “sharpness level” obtainable with nearly all other sharpening techniques. The steel will tell you just how sharp your blade/chisel will remain, NOT your sharpening technique. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3579 days

#6 posted 12-25-2010 05:40 PM

I’ve had a WorkSharp 3000 for several years but I use it very seldom. I prefer the scary sharp method also. My sandpaper goes to 2000 grit and I finish with a 6000 grit Japanese wet stone. I also use a honing guide.

It does not take very long to get a super sharp chisel or iron this way and the process is quite satisfying, even enjoyable.

I only use the WorkSharp when I want to change a bevel angle (which is quite seldom) now. It used to be my primary sharpening method, but I believe I get better results with my scary sharp method.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4526 days

#7 posted 12-25-2010 05:44 PM

I use the worksharp3000 for most fine tuned edges and a sandng belt ( 120-150 ) for coarse grinds as on gouges and the like.

p.s. Where do you shop of tools in Vegas?

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 3412 days

#8 posted 12-25-2010 06:16 PM

Bob. There is only one woodworking store in Vegas. They’re pretty good but limited in selection. They’re also a Rockler affiliate. There is a Woodcraft store up in Reno but I’m not going to drive 8 hours to check it out. Otherwise I buy tools either at the box store or the internet. In Nevada we have a”use” tax. Meaning, that if you buy anything on the internet you are responsible for paying NV sales tax on the total amount including shipping. The state really can’t enforce it but it’s something I have to think about being a business. I have already been audited one and I got burned pretty good.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4082 days

#9 posted 12-25-2010 06:26 PM

worksharp 3000 works great .In affect the worksharp is the scary sharp method with a motor. I would just order one from amazon.

View SouthpawCA's profile


273 posts in 3738 days

#10 posted 12-25-2010 07:04 PM

I use the manual method which consists of sandpaper and stones. It only takes a few seconds to get that “scary sharp” edge back again. Here is a video from Woodsmith that explains it. You will have to sign up for the weekly emails, but why not – it’s free and there are some good tips.

-- Don

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3775 days

#11 posted 12-25-2010 07:20 PM

Save the money. If you only have a few items to sharpen…use a ceramic or diamond stone and a leather strop. I’ve done this for years and I have a lot of items I have to sharpen. A ceramic or diamond stone holds it’s shape and will laste a long time….I have made small wood triangles that I use to get the feel of the tool at the right angle on the stone …I use a course stone on a dull tool….but mostly I use a fine stone to refresh the edge….then a few strops….walla…a very sharp and useful tool.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View rickf16's profile


392 posts in 4086 days

#12 posted 12-25-2010 07:46 PM

Ditto on the 3000. I dry shaved my arm with a 1” chisel, nuff said. Merry Christmas!!!

-- Rick

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3553 days

#13 posted 12-25-2010 09:32 PM

I’m embarrassed to say I bought into the Tormek brainwashing regime and ended up with a Jet wet sharpening system, since it was almost half the price of the Tormek. Still, I spent over $400 on all that stuff. After using it for awhile, I returned to the Scary Sharp /Veritas honing guide for chisels and plane irons, and am trying to decide what to do with the Jet. For curved lathe tools and carving tools (gouges), though, the Wolverine system with a regular grinder is the way to go. That Worksharp and Lee Valley’s power sharpener look good, too.
Incidentally, Don, the Woodcraft in Reno is history. The former owner opened another store in Reno, but must have had a falling out with Woodcraft.

-- Gene T

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3457 days

#14 posted 12-26-2010 12:21 AM

After taking a class taught by Chris Schwarz, my choice of using waterstones with honing guides was proven to be a wise choice. Chris sharpens his tools with waterstones and he showed some tricks to sharpens blades that I do not know how one could do the same with a Tormek or Worksharp, etc. Specifically, honing cambers on plane blades or even sharpening a router plane blade. Waterstones work great for me. Just make sure you have a good method to keep the stones true, that is important.

-- Mike

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3542 days

#15 posted 12-26-2010 12:30 AM

Just to add a little to the discussion, the “buy in” decision can be influenced greatly by your budget. If you don’t care to spend much in the short term, you can get a good Eclipse style jig for ~$15 and a bunch of fine grit wet/dry sandpaper for under ~$20. You can slap the sandpaper on your tablesaw with a little spray adhesive and be up and running for pretty cheap. Upgrading the “scary sharp” system with a couple of flat pieces of float glass greatly improves convenience, and will add a few more bucks depending on where you can get it, but you are still in for cheap.

A1Jim is indeed correct that the Worksharp3000 relies on sandpaper, and can be considered “scary sharp with a motor,” but I use mine quite differently than I ever used sandpaper. The included angle jig saves me a ton of time, and I still have the option of going free hand on the surface of the platter, though this took a good bit of trial and error to get right. Also, the speed of the system allows more frequent sharpening, and the availability of the extra glass platters allows an almost limitless range of abrasives to be used with the system. Case in point, I don’t really like the micromesh pads, so I use the 3M PSA abrasives I used to use with my “scary sharp” system. I REALLY like the finish from the 0.3/0.5 micron 3M abrasives!

The benefit of the WS3K over the scarysharp system, IMHO, is that it effectively eliminates the need for a slow speed grinder. If you already have one, then obviously this doesn’t apply, but I have burned more edges than I care to recall with my cheap 3400 rpm grinder and cheap grey wheel. If you get a slow speed grinder, an accurate tool rest, and a Norton 3X wheel, you can almost spend as much as the a WS3K! If you don’t any sort of a grinder, the coarse grits of the WS3K can do the bulk of you grinding needs pretty well. I have an 80/120 grit plate I use when there are edges in REALLY bad shape, but I almost never have to use this one.

If you are planning on re-grinding edges by hand, this certainly is an option, but I assure you that you will get tired of this quite quickly. I have a few coarse diamond stones that I use for flattening backs of tools, and they work GREAT for grinding edges! The problem is that each one will cost ~$50, and you will still have a lot of work to do polishing out those deep scratches with finer grit sandpaper.

Overall, the WS3K represents a pretty good cost benefit ratio in my book, especially having used a few different systems to sharpen.

Now, if you really think you want to sharpen by hand, I would recommend a slow speed grinder with an 80 grit Norton 3X wheel, a Veritas tool rest (Lee Valley sells those two items in a set), and a 1000, 4000 and 8000 Shapton water stone. I recommend the Shapton stones since they don’t require soaking, and just need a spray of water on their surface to work properly. They also have been heralded as being about as good of a synthetic water stone as you can get, and though I have not tried a bunch of water stones, they certainly have a great reputation amongst those who have. A cheaper alternative that also has a great reputation is the Norton line of water stones. If you are going this way because of budget, you can get a 220/1000 and a 4000/8000 combination stone that will take care of almost all of your sharpening needs and will still be cheaper than the Shapton stones.

I would also recommend either an Eclipse style jig (I actually own two of these and love them!!) or a Veritas honing guide (this is really nice if you have skew chisels or other blades you want to sharpen at an angle). I almost forgot—you need a diamond plate to flatten your water stones. My back-of-the-envelope math brings this to ~$450.

Granted, the Shapton stones are very nice, and leave a fantastic edge, but I actually prefer the edge I get from my 3M abrasives to any other sharpening method I have used (and I have NOT used the Chosera stones, so I may well be missing out on something, but I don’t feel like dropping $250 to find out)

The one thing I would recommend REGARDLESS of the system you end up going with is to stick with it for a while before you decide if you like it or not! The WORST thing you can do is to switch back and forth between systems before you really learn how to use the one you have! Be sure you figure out the best way to get a sharp edge with the system you buy into and USE IT for a while before you even think of getting something else! Otherwise I can tell you that you will end up buying a bunch of gizmos that will sit on your shelf and will get absolutely no use since you never spent the time to make them work properly in the first place.

One last “accessory” that I would recommend regardless of what you do buy is Ron Hock’s book The Perfect Edge which is the best tool sharpening reference book I have read to date (there are a couple of others that are also good, but I like Ron’s book the best). If you have the time, I would actually read this book BEFORE buying any other sharpening widgets since he describes each systems benefits and shortcomings much better than we can ever do here!

Good luck, and happy holidays!

-- David from Indiana --

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