Tool sharpening

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 06-12-2011 04:05 PM 1868 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3245 days

06-12-2011 04:05 PM

For the past couple years, I’ve been using a granite tile and sandpaper as my exclusive means of sharpening chisels and plane irons. I’ve never used any other method. It works great for honing and minor edge repair, which until recently was the bulk of my concern, but I’ve found that it sucks for grinding and flattening. You see, I’ve been buying a lot of hand tools lately. All have either been middle-of-road quality or vintage. That said, most need some love before they can be put into service. Using my method to flatten, fettle, and grind is taking too damn long and is creating a world-wide sandpaper shortage. So I’m considering a supplemental method for heavy work or possible abandoning the sandpaper method all -together if I like the new alternative method enough.
Here are the possibilities I’m considering (but I’m open to suggestions) Oh, and I should mention that I my rich uncle hasn’t died yet, so I’m trying to keep the tab under $10K :LOL: Buying $250 worth of stones doesn’t really appeal to me at this point. Definitely not all at once. Nor does an expensive machine.:

1- Buying a coarse diamond stone to flatten, fettle, and grind bevels. Then use the sandpaper for everything else. Any suggestions for a diamond stone/grit?? This idea is appealing because the diamond stone would be useful for flattening waterstones if I go that route in the future.

2- Buying a coarse waterstone. I’d probably just use the tile to flatten it for the time being. Would 800 grit be adequete? I assume an “800” grit WS is more effective than low-grit sandpaper??

Dark horse option below.
3- Buy this horizontal wet sharpener from Japanwoodworker. With the optional jig, it will cost about $200. This is a lot more than I really wanted to spend (initially), but with the added ability to sharpen jointer/planer blades, I see a lot of value. The only review I’ve managed to find was on a carving forum, but it was favorable. Looks a llot like the makita, but the tool holder, wheel stone, and available accessories for the Makita look nicer. Of course, the Makita is over $100 more expensive.

Any thoughts?

8 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4709 days

#1 posted 06-12-2011 04:18 PM

Are you aware of the other power sharpeners such as Worksharp 3000, Tormek, Veritas MK2?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View marcfromny's profile


45 posts in 3971 days

#2 posted 06-12-2011 04:30 PM

I have a green waterstone and it does nothing for me for heavy work. Usually ,(I’m cheap), I clamp my belt sander upside down and flatten the backs of chisels or plane irons,, then I try getting the bevel started. All the time making sure not to get things hot. Then its right back too the sandpaper. Hasn’t failed me yet. I have the higher grits of water stones but I like the paper better.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4740 days

#3 posted 06-12-2011 04:45 PM

The current “Internet wisdom” is that water-stones are the latest thing. I do use them for my Japanese tools.

However, good old oil stones still work like they have for centuries. Overall, I still prefer my “Made in the USA” oil stones for sharpening western chisels and plane irons. The current “Internet echo” is that they are slower than water-stones. However, when used properly, you won’t notice the slight, if any, difference in time. Besides, oil stones will outlast water-stones several times over, when used properly.

Add a leather strop with honing compound to the oil stone setup, and you are good to go.


Bro. Tenzin

-- 温故知新

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3245 days

#4 posted 06-12-2011 05:16 PM

Anji- Can that sander flatten the back of a chisel? If so, I’ll add it to the list of possibilities.

Wayne- I’ve seen those machines and read the countless favorable reviews. My concern is the initial expense of the machines and/or the cost of buying the replacement discs/belts.

Marc- I just saw the green Norton waterstone at Highland. Looks good. Definite contender.

3Fin- I’m glad I asked about the 800 grit. The last thing I need is to spend an hour flattening a chisel. My latest aquisition is 3 old Buck Bros Firmer chisels (1”, 1.5”, and 1.75”). The previous owner(s) look to have freehand sharpend on a grinder. I don’t see any sign of schorching luckily. However, the backs and bevel angles are a mess. These chisels seem to be made of depleted uranium :LOL:. They are actually the tools that inspired me to look for a better grinding option since they are sooooo hard. I’m now gravitating toward a green 200grit water stone for the job.

Hobo- I’ll have to investigate oil stones further. I have a couple oldies that I inherited from my wife’s grandfather. Maybe I already own the right tool and don’t even know it.

View Bertha's profile


13572 posts in 3305 days

#5 posted 06-12-2011 05:24 PM

This is an excellent question, and a well articulated one. I use a bastardized version of your current method, employing marble windowsill and sandpaper. And I agree, establishing a NEW primary is very tiresome. I’ve got a wet-grinder to establish primaries, and it works well with a good jig. It’s a bit high on price, though. My recommendation, for what it’s worth, would be to buy a slow speed wetgrinder and some manner of jiggery to handle plane irons. The JET system can be had for a few hundred; the Tormek a few hundred more. I consider you current methods superior at the later stages of sharpening.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Woollymonster's profile


31 posts in 2853 days

#6 posted 04-15-2012 11:51 PM

I know cost is always a factor. I look at the pile of unused jigs, fixtures, stones of all kinds that I have lying around and wonder what the cost of it all would total? Then I just wish I had heard about and bought the Tormek T-7 to begin with. This machine is over $630.00 now but I know I have that much cost in that pile of other stuff.

The other stuff works, eventually, but I have found no faster more accurate way to put a razor edge on any cutting tool or to reshape one in need of repair. Like any other tool in your shop, it will take a little training and practice to master. But after reading the manual (very detailed) and a couple of sharpening sessions you will just ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”

I have thought about purchasing the finer Blackstone Silicon grindstone but when you get a mirrored razor edge with the stock wheel and strop, again, why? Wheels take about 10 seconds to change out. Ten year warranty. After 4 years of use, I can see no visible wear on the stone’s diameter. There is a gauge on the side of the machine.

One tip: If you get this machine and just go to do normal sharpening/honing, use a sharpie or layout die to mark the bevel to determine your grinding and honing angle. Don’t just use the included gauge. It is always just a hair off and causes unnecessary grinding and resetting of the bevel angle. If you don’t mark the bevel you are just wasting time, steel and stone. This is also discussed in detail in the manual.

Hope this helps.

View enurdat1's profile


100 posts in 2859 days

#7 posted 04-16-2012 07:27 AM

I’ve got a WS 3000 that I use for all of my initial work, then swap to oil stones to hone and finish. For my carving tools,I use a piece of MDF cut different profiles with honing compound I have marble slabs and sandpaper still set up under my bench (easily accessed and adds weight to the bench) for a quick hone on my chisels etc. I have looked at the T-7 but not been willing to pony up the $$ yet.

-- It is what it is...

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3492 days

#8 posted 04-16-2012 04:15 PM

To grind a new bevel I often just use a regular 8 inch grinder with the 60grit stone that came with it. As long as you keep the wheel dressed you shouldn’t have any problem with burning the edge of your tool. Its cheap, fast and gets the job done. Then you can go on to hone on the paper.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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