Need sharpening advice please!

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Forum topic by BenI posted 06-08-2012 10:27 PM 5047 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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333 posts in 3094 days

06-08-2012 10:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sharpening chisels oil camellia oil

I’ve done a few projects of varying degrees of difficulty but I’m still working on some of the basics which brings me to my question.

After finishing my last project I knew I should sharpen my chisels but didn’t really know how. After looking around the web I found several articles and videos so I’m pretty much set for that but feel free to post links or just good advice by all means. One article and review for Lee Valley Diamond Lapping Films ( by Chris Schwarz said he used camellia oil (as was recommended) but the one place I found it was $20 and I’d prefer to avoid that. I know you can use water on these but recommended to use oil.

Can I use some other type of oil, i.e. vegetable or canola oil or should I just go with honing oil?

Also how important is using a strop after sharpening?

Thanks in advance

-- Ben from IL

14 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8953 posts in 3493 days

#1 posted 06-08-2012 10:43 PM

Lee Valley have these metal lapping plates that you use with diamond paste and they never have to be re flattened. Something to look into anyways.

I’ve used mineral oil with no ill effects, but your mileage may vary.

Stropping keeps a keen edge as you work. I charge my homemade stropping pad with green honing compound and some mineral oil. Nothing like a sharp edge.

View BenI's profile


333 posts in 3094 days

#2 posted 06-08-2012 11:18 PM

If I hadn’t already purchased the films I would probably go that route and I have glass which I’m going to apply the films to.

Somehow mineral oil didn’t come to mind though. Pretty sure I can get that at almost any hardware store. Thanks for the suggestion.

I have an old leather belt that has the ‘rough’ back. Would that be okay to use as a strop and work with the honing compound?

-- Ben from IL

View jmos's profile


917 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 06-08-2012 11:21 PM

Camillia oil is just a light vegetable oil, so I would think any light vegetable oil would work just as well. You might just want to test it on some wood and make sure it doesn’t wreak havoc with your finish.

There are as many ways to sharpen as there are woodworkers. I would suggest picking one that looks good to you, buy/find some detailed instruction, and follow that method. I bought a David Charlesworth DVD from LN and went with his water stone method. It, like most methods, works pretty well. If you like Schwarz’s method, and he strops, do it; if he doesn’t, don’t. Once you’ve got some experience you can tinker and fine tune to your personal liking, but to get started I’d follow some established method you can do, and afford the kit for.

edit – Looking at the source article, and Schwarz’s blog, LV only calls for light oil; sounds like 3 in 1 would work just fine.,43072

-- John

View BenI's profile


333 posts in 3094 days

#4 posted 06-08-2012 11:33 PM

I wasn’t sure if camellia oil was similar to/interchangeable with other oils and wanted to check.

As far as methods, I found one on here that doesn’t bother with a standard bevel and a micro-bevel and uses a convex bevel which I’ll try and see how that turns out. The chisels are cheap Craftsman ones so if I accidentially destroy them, not a real big deal.

Thanks for the advice

-- Ben from IL

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3799 days

#5 posted 06-08-2012 11:40 PM

Almost any liquid would work. The purpose of the lube is to carry away the “swarf” the metal removed from the blade you are sharpening. I use water with the Lee Valley lapping plates as I find it easier to clean up than oil…just my preference.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3955 days

#6 posted 06-09-2012 01:03 AM

Go to and check out his sharpening system. He uses simple green and water for lubricating dimond stones. I have started using it and I love it. No rusting.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

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Don W

19749 posts in 3483 days

#7 posted 06-09-2012 01:13 PM

as Paul sellers suggested, I use window cleaner for my DMT’s. works very well and it comes in a squirt bottle and you can get it at most dollar stores.

For my oil stones I use a mineral oil and diesel fuel mix. Either one straight will work as well, and I’ve heard straight diesel fuel cuts quicker. Since I have a diesel tractor, its in the shop anyhow.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View BenI's profile


333 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 06-09-2012 04:36 PM

All 3 of those methods sounds great but at least for now I’ll be using the lapping films so probably just going to use water or oil. Eventually, when I am sharpening more often I’ll upgrade to a stone of some sort and use one of those methods.

Thank you for all the helpful advice and suggestions! Very much appreciated!

-- Ben from IL

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4275 days

#9 posted 06-09-2012 06:07 PM

I use Camilla oil. I buy it at one of the asian markets near me. Its way cheaper than any of the on-line woodworking stores. I also use it to wipe down my chisels and planes after use to help deter rust.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5311 posts in 4876 days

#10 posted 06-09-2012 06:51 PM

Sharpening has become almost a cult. Exotic oils, stones, diamonds, edges to 4 decimal points, storage in hermetically controled environments, blah, blah.
My advice is to find a method that will give ya an edge that will catch the old fingernail.
Sure, I strop after honing on a waterstone. I can promise you that there is a point of diminishing return.
Kinda like having the tablesaw set to within .0005” and whining ‘cause it isn’t closer.
Do you think that the old masters carried the “chore” of sharpening to some rediculous and infinite point?
NOT!!! They got it sharp and went back to work.
My comments are only a balance point, not a subjective criticism.
There! I feel better.

-- [email protected]

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3842 days

#11 posted 06-09-2012 09:16 PM

Check Rob Cosman’s youtube videos on sharpening

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View BenI's profile


333 posts in 3094 days

#12 posted 06-10-2012 02:06 PM

I’ve actually come across a couple of his videos, but wouldn’t hurt to look more thoroughly.

Planning on looking in my area to see if there are places that might have camellia oil that isn’t too pricey so I can sharpen and protect against rust with the same thing.

Bill, your post made me chuckle but I definitely see where you’re coming from. Definitely not planning on becoming that obsessed with every little aspect of sharpening.

Thanks again for all the posts, comments and suggestions!

-- Ben from IL

View waho6o9's profile


8953 posts in 3493 days

#13 posted 06-10-2012 02:23 PM

MDF and green honing compound makes for a sharp edge as well.

View Infernal2's profile


107 posts in 3113 days

#14 posted 06-10-2012 07:42 PM

For a cheap alternative, baby oil works pretty darn well. As others have said, the oil isn’t so much a lubricant as a way to keep your stones (or sandpaper if you go that route) free of the path of what you are sharpening. I like the honing compound and sandpaper personally but for primary bevels I use a simple coarse stone (I am paranoid about bench grinders and too cheap to buy a Tormek).

As to a leather strop… Well, I’ve never used one on a chisel or an iron but they work really well on my shaving razor so I imagine…. they’d work well.

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