If I ever have to sharpen another blade…

Ok.  I know I usually get in a hurry to get things done and I did this when reading up on sharpening.  I even tried to watch some online videos of the process.  To be honest, I just looked at the equipment and went to the store and bought what I thought I needed.  I should know myself better by now.  I won’t go into the  details of having to make three trips because I like visiting that store anyway.

I went with the water stone method since my father had shown me how to use an oil stone to sharpen my pocket knife as a kid.  I purchased three separate stones in 800 grit, 1200 grit, and 8000 grit flavors.  I stayed away from the combination stones because you have to use one stone to flatten the other.  I used the 800 to flatten the 1200 and then I used the 1200 to flatten the 8000 grit stone.  I also bought a nagura stone to use with the 8000 stone.  You need this stone to create the slurry used to polish your secondary bevel.  I also bought the cheap honing jig for planes and chisels.  I think it cost about $14.00.  Veritas has an awesome honing jig that comes with a guide that will help you get the blade to the correct angle without fuss.  I sure hope Santa is reading my blog.  I used a protractor and thick poster board to scribe multiple angles that sits on the lowest shelf in front of my bench.  This works well for me because it is at eye level.

I first started with the plane blades because I knew I would be replacing the originals with thicker Hock blades and I was scared to “experiment” on my new chisels.  I started with my jointer and smoothing blades.  I began by grinding the edge straight and then I ground a 25 degree bevel using my 6 inch grinder.  The grinder I use is the basic on/off bench grinder.  I wish I had an adjustable speed grinder, but hind sight is 20/20.  A Tormek is another option, but it’s not in the budget at this time.  I put the blade in the honing jig and used my template to get a secondary bevel at about 30 degrees.  I started with the 800 grit stone and worked and worked.  Day settled into night and the night relinquished into day..  Oh, sorry.  That’s another story.  This took me a while because I never could get it sharp enough to cut the wood like I thought it should.  I did some more research and made another attempt.  I worked the 800 stone until I felt a bur on the back side of the blade.  Once I noticed the bur, I switched to the 1200 grit stone and only did a few pass.  This polished the secondary bevel quick and clean.  Before I used the 8000 grit stone, I adjusted the honing jig to gain a few degrees on the bevel.  It’s probably very close to 32 degrees at this point.  I did a few passes on this stone, removed the blade from the jig, and flipped it over and removed the bur using the same stone.  The blade was very sharp.  I used the modified Randall Groves method to determining sharpness and it met my expectations.

When I sharpened my #6 fore plane blade, I went through the same process.  The only change I had to make was how I honed the blade because of the 9″ radius that the blade was ground to.  I had to pull the blade across the stones in the jig while starting on one side of the blade and ending on the other and reversing the process on the next lap.  I made sure I was doing this right be trying to draw a “X” on the stone with the blade.

I have been reading how some people grind a slight radius on every blade.  This is something I will experiment with because the reasoning makes sense.  I just wanted to make the planes usable and get the process down before I attempt any expert techniques.  This is what I have done in the way of sharpening so far and it works well for me.  I know there are others who like to sharpen by hand and like using the “Scary Sharp Method”.  This method involves using sand paper and is supposed to work very well.  I haven’t used this method and can’t say that I will any time soon because I am more interested in getting into some projects.  

This is the process that I went through to sharpen the plane irons.  It doesn’t take long and grinding the primary bevel is done rarely.  The irons will only require a quick honing after every project.  I am sure that there are other machines and methods for sharpening that I don’t know about.  I even saw a guy on youtube use what looked like a chop saw to sharpen plane irons.  I would appreciate comments and opinions on this topic.



“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” ~ Pablo Picasso


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