sharpening options for the non professional woodworker

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Forum topic by geofftirr posted 05-14-2012 11:01 PM 1625 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View geofftirr's profile


18 posts in 3401 days

05-14-2012 11:01 PM

Ok so I will apologize in advance if this has been covered in detail somewhere else. I am looking for options for sharpening and occasionally reconditioning edged hand tools. I am not a professional but rather a hobbyist who turns to woodworking when the photography business makes me climb the walls so anything high price may be out of my reach but I will try either way.

I know the best method is the scary sharp but it occurs to me that that is not the best if something needs a fair amount of work, has a nick in it etc… I have a number of old chisels and a couple of planes all of which either need an overhaul or routine maintenance and am looking to not spend the next 5 weeks with a stone or hand sanding. my hope is to mechanize or partially mechanize the process and do a fine hone at the end. I assume that a rotary grinder would not be the number 1 choice for things like hand planes and other wide flat tools so what would be my best bet in say the around the arbitrary price range of 200 dollars.

Also if there is something in close to that range please include it.

9 replies so far

View RogerC's profile


51 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 05-14-2012 11:12 PM

If you want to sharpen chisels then a bench grinder would of course be fastest, though can take some learning to get a “fair” edge. And it will never be perfect. For hand planes a double sided stone with 2 different grits so you can work through the grits is ideal to remove a nick and then hone the edge to perfection

View Loren's profile


11154 posts in 4705 days

#2 posted 05-15-2012 12:30 AM

Makita wet wheel grinder. It comes standard with a 1000
grit stone which doesn’t grind very fast but doesn’t burn
the steel, ever. The 1000 grit finish is sharp enough to
shave hair with and plenty good for chopping chisels.

For plane irons and fine paring chisels you’ll want a 6000
grit stone or a buffing wheel and some jeweler’s rouge.
The buffing wheel takes some skill to use without rounding
the cutting edge but they are cheap and so is rouge.

You can set up a regular bench grinder with a white
friable wheel on one side and a buffing wheel on the
other. That’s how my grinder is set up. In between
the white wheel and the buffing wheel a 1000 grit
water stone does the trick…. or the Makita wet grinder
if I want to get it set up which takes 10 minutes or so.

If grinding dip your steel in water often to keep the
edge cool. The Makita runs wet so this isn’t a problem.

I have the Makita with coarse and 1000 grit wheels,
the bench grinder with the white wheel and the buffer,
a 1000 grit stone, a 1000/4000 combo stone, a 6000
stone and an 8000 stone plus a strop or two and odd
stones for carving tools and a coarse diamond stone.

If I had to buy it all again and only wanted to spend
$100 or so I’d just get a 6000 grit stone, a 1000 grit
stone and a white grinder wheel. Those three will
cost you about $100 and that’s all you need to grind
and hone anything to an edge that surpasses the
sharpest knife or tool most people have ever used.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9861 posts in 3385 days

#3 posted 05-15-2012 01:11 AM

Oil stones are pretty darn easy and don’t require a lot of fussing…

I’m no pro, but I’ve gotten by for years with a coarse/med India stone and a hard Arkansas stone….only recently adding a granite plate with fine sand papers to the mix.

You can take out nicks with the coarse India and not worry about burning out the temper.

Just a thought.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3418 days

#4 posted 05-15-2012 01:45 AM

The worksharp for sure if you want a cheap option for sharpening plane blades and chisels I think you definitely should go with the worksharp. It’s quick easy to use and did I mention quick?

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3747 days

#5 posted 05-15-2012 03:04 AM

I know this is blasphemy but I take most of my blades to Best Grinding in Tulsa. They do a much better job than I can and I don’t have to fuss with sharpening. I will ‘tune up’ an edge but when they need more than a tune up, they make the trip to Best. I know, I’m not going to get my woodworker merit badge but sharpening is not something I enjoy doing. There, I publically admitted it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4028 days

#6 posted 05-15-2012 03:20 AM

I have a white wheel on one side of my 8” grinder and a red one on the other. The red seems to be a little faster and heats the tool less. I use the grinder mostly for sharpening my lathe tools.

For plane blades and chisels I actually prefer to start with a 150 grit silicon carbide disk on my 12” disk sander to establish the bevel and repair any nicks etc., then go to scary sharp. I also would strongly recommend a tool holding guide to allow precise grinding and to allow cutting a micro bevel. Much faster than honing the whole bevel.

View Arch_E's profile


48 posts in 3579 days

#7 posted 05-15-2012 03:23 AM

Every option has its champions! That’s because, with practice, any adequate road will get you there. I’ve invested in grinders, a Tormek, sandpaper, oil stones, and waterstones. Surprise: they all work! Once I learned how sharp an edge could be (from the Tormek), my skill with stones radically improved. Waterstones are severalfold times faster than oil stones—though they both get you to sharp. I tired of the scary sharp method due to changing out the sandpaper so often, as well as my inconsistency and results. For me, grinders and stones are the better path. Now, I really enjoy and excel at freehanding on waterstones. My results are fantastic! Keep practicing! Once you discover what sharp is, the rest will become second nature.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4809 days

#8 posted 05-15-2012 09:43 AM

I have read about a dozen or so techniques over the past few months and everyone swears by what method they use. Its fun to see how everyone goes about sharpening a little differently.

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3634 days

#9 posted 05-15-2012 03:03 PM

gfadvm you’re wise to let others do tasks that you don’t want to do. Hire the Professionals so you can do something else, no shame in that at all.

+1 for Arch_e keep trying different methods for sharpening until you find what works best for you.
Farming out that task works well also. You can also keep a stropping board with green rogue and keep the edge sharp as you work.

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