Sharpening your tools?

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Forum topic by SergeantSawDust posted 07-28-2012 03:14 AM 1983 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SergeantSawDust's profile


173 posts in 2695 days

07-28-2012 03:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: woodworking sawdustking sharpening tools

I find myself wanting to take my hobby more and more seriously and realized I lack a very valuable skill and tools to do such…. sharpening your tools. Within the past three years I’ve been deployed two and as I approach the end of my army career my new found love for woodworking is lacking this basic knowledge. What’s the best way to go about sharpening chisels, table saw blades, saws, band saw blades, jointer blades, planer blades, etc? Whatever advice you can give on what merchandise one should own to sharpen standard tools as this would be greatly appreciated. I’m not looking at spending a fortune, but your opinions and experiences will be weighed accordingly. Again I appreciate any feedback for how you handle your tools.

On a side note I thought about buying some japanese wet stones I believe they’re called. Worth it? Again I realize I will obviously need different tools to sharpen different tools.

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

12 replies so far

View doughan's profile


96 posts in 3104 days

#1 posted 07-28-2012 03:17 AM

you can sharpen your chisels with a belt sander…if you are careful not to let the metal get hot ruining the temper

all the rest of your list are best either thrown away when the get dull or sent to a professional…especialycarbide cutters

View waho6o9's profile


8771 posts in 3090 days

#2 posted 07-28-2012 03:23 AM

Some suggestions might be
Scary Sharp
Shampton (spelling)
Oil Stone
Water Stone
MDF charged with green honing compound.

It’s awesome SawdustKing, you’ll find a system that works well for you and you’ll produce some
great products as well.

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3112 days

#3 posted 07-28-2012 03:25 AM

There are many ways to get your hand tools sharp. The best way is whichever way you can get consistantly good results with. Wether that be diamonds, waterstones, sandpaper, grinding systems, worksharp or whatever else one can think of. Practice will be needed.

As for TS blades, jointer and planer blades, quality ones are worth sending out for professional sharpening.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 07-28-2012 03:32 AM

SDK, In a few lines you have managed to ask a question that could take days to answer. Good question though. The belt sander thing just mentioned is fine, but not for a first timer. And I certainly would not throw away all other items as mentioned. Anything with a cutting edge can be sharpened. Without serious equip. and know how, dont even think about carbide. Bandsaw blades are easy to sharpen, but at 12-15 cents per inch, well lifes short. Plane irons and chisels are pretty easy with a short learning curve. Youll find lots of info online. I use waterstones myself a lot, but not always. I have no complaints with theml. Just keep it simple, many folks have turned it into sort of a rocket science. Enjoy the journey!

View hutchinsonkw's profile


5 posts in 2646 days

#5 posted 07-28-2012 05:19 AM

For sharpening chisels, plane irons, knives, ect I use wet/dry sand paper on a thick piece of flat glass, then use a leather strop. I usually use grits from 600-2000.

I have some Arkansas oil stones I use prior if the blades are chipped.

A belt sander works well too but will (atleast for me) give you a convex edge which is not what you want on wood working tools. On my outdoors knives it is a great edge though. That is just my opinion.

-- -Kevin

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3373 days

#6 posted 07-28-2012 07:27 AM

Chisels and hand plane blades can be sharpened using stones, sandpaper on glass or granite surface or using a power sharpening system.

Table saw blades generally have carbide cutting surfaces. These should be sharpened by a professional who has the equipment, knowledge and experience to do the job properly.

Handsaws can be sharpened using a hand file. You will need to acquire or build a clamp to hold the blade. You will also need a setter to set the teeth properly. There are several sites which have good tutorials on this skill.

Generally small bandsaw blades don’t cost enough to make sharpening reasonable and economic.

Planer blades on benchtop planers are generally designed to be throw-aways. Most have two cutting edges and may be turned to the second one once the first has dulled.

Jointer and heavier planer blades can be sharpened using stones, diamond plates or sandpaper on flat smooth surface. This will let you “hone” the blades to ideal sharpness. If the blades have minor nicks they can be removed by a professional sharpening service or machine shop who will precision grind the edge to remove enough metal to remove the defect.

It is very important to sharpen jointer and planer blades equally on each blade in the set and to reinstall the blades properly to prevent poor results due to one blade being higher than the others. This will produce a washboard effect.

Bottom line is that you need sharp tools and that you can sharpen many of them yourself but some rate professional service and some should be treated as disposable items.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2890 days

#7 posted 07-28-2012 07:37 AM

What Herb said.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View MNgary's profile


313 posts in 2930 days

#8 posted 07-28-2012 11:56 AM

I use 1000 and 4000 grit Japanese waterstones for my turning and other chisels. 3M emery cloth on a piece of P-lam for flattening the stones. I also have an old 12” water grindstone connected to a used washing machine motor for reshaping or removing nicks. The water stone set is available for less than $35 (Woodcraft #140327) and I purchased the grindstone from a Greek woodcarver years ago.

I send tablesaw blades, jointer & planer knives, and shaper cutters to a commercial sharpener. Bandsaw blades are discarded when dull.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


5542 posts in 2864 days

#9 posted 07-28-2012 12:22 PM

Most people sharpen their own hand tools, like chisels and plane irons and send out their carbide tipped table saw blades for sharpening. Generally band saw blades are cheap enough to be disposable, with exceptions. I suggest you pick up a good book on sharpening as their are many successful methods each w/ their own quirks and tools, before you settle on a system that works for you.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3465 days

#10 posted 07-28-2012 12:32 PM

SawDustKing, sharpening tools is a very personal issue for some people on here (for hand tools anyway), as I found out the hard way. Many will tell you their “system” is the best and why you should do what they do because they figured out the best way, etc, etc, etc. “The best way” is the way that works for you, both functionally and monetarily.

For hand tools, chisels, plane blades, scrapers, etc, there are a few different types of “systems” to use. Personally, I use water stones. I went with that “system” after reading extensively on sharpening (you know as well as I do, there is ample time to read while deployed). Once I got schooled up, I chose my “system” and went with it. I suggest you read about sharpening first and then decide what “system” will work best for you. There are many things to consider in this arena;

- How much sharpening will you need to do? If you are primarily or solely a hand tool user, the need will be quite high. If you only occasionally need to sharpen something, obviously low.

- What hand tools do you have that need to be sharpened? If you only use planes in your shop, this will drive what sharpening items you need. Saws will require a completely different approach.

- Cost. Each “system” has a cost. Some cost a lot up front; some cost a lot in the long run. Your sharpening needs will factor into cost big time. If you rarely have something to sharpen, maybe a $700 base sharpener without accessories is not a smart investment. Or maybe your budget has a deep pocket. A big deciding factor in what you choose should be done with the cost in the big picture.

For power tools, I think you are better off paying for services to have those done. You can certainly do them yourself if you have very deep pockets to purchase the tools to get the job done. In my opinion, a hobbyist would be better served sending those blades out for sharpening.

There are lots of resources out there to learn about sharpening. Just as we have FMs to learn our craft, the woodworkers do a fine job of documenting processes to help people learn. Once you get educated on sharpening you will be able to choose a “system” that works for you.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 3274 days

#11 posted 07-29-2012 06:17 PM

Keep it simple. Having all the fancy equipment is great if you can afford it. Me, I’m broke, so I have to do what can with what I have. At this stage in my woodworking experience I have no need for alot of the stuff that some people say is needed for sharpening tools. I agree with paratrooper34, do the research first. Once you feel that you have learned what you needed to learn, take the necessary steps to create a sharpening system that suits you. I, for one, would be interested to know how it all works out for you. Take care.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3370 days

#12 posted 07-29-2012 07:04 PM

I can say that I’ve the same Norton Oil

stone that I’ve had since I was 13 (my first

born is 36) and it has served me as a proffessional

carpenter & joiner for all these years..

I have a standard 6” bench grinder with the original

grey wheels (I grind very lightly ans slowly) it does

all the grinding that I need and it has also been used

for all my woodturning chisels as well as my students.

Value to replace my complete sharpening set up. Under

£50 -$78

Jigs are great and there are many home made ones on


With a basic oilstone and a simple jig the LN methods shown

on you tube are the best start I’ve found.

Good luck and ask lots of questions.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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