Good how-to-sharpen-tools web site.


For those who like to sharpen their own hand tools, the following web site has about the best instructions on how to do it that I've come across. It has good background info, explains the why of each step, has good photos, and is very well written. It is by Maurice Fraser, a long-time teacher and contributor to Fine Woodworking mag.
http://www.antiquetools.com/sharp/index.html
--Billy
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I ran across a reference to this site in an old Fine Woodworking magazine and gave it a read. I'd never tried his method of sharpening but thought I'd give it a go with a set of chisels. Mind you, I don't have the best sharpening stones - a somewhat coarse silicon carbide stone with a "moonstone" (fine aluminum oxide). Just using these two stones following Mr. Fraser's methods, I was able to put a keen edge (sure seemed keen to me) on these chisels and did it in short order. The edge I got is, I'm sure, better than they had when new which was probably 20 years ago.
I have an old stone used for sharpening straight razors called a "Moor" stone. I don't know the proper use of this stone but using it on one of the chisels created a mirror finish on the honed edge. I don't have a leather strop (am planning to get one, though), but I can't imagine that is will improve much on the edge I already have. What I need even more is a good technique for rounded chisels, like lathe gouges.
So, you're correct that Mr. Fraser's technique's are excellent.
Harry
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Try the strop. You will be surprised. Do as the they state on the website. Plain leather. Leave the honing glop in the store.

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One part of Fraser's method that I have had first-hand experience with is avoiding honing jigs and just do the honing by holding the tool in the proper way. I have a good honing jig (Lee Valley I think) and I've used it many times with reasonably good effect. But a while back I was honing with the jig and for some reason I was having trouble getting a chisel blade sharp. Out of frustration I took the chisel out of the jig and honed it freehand and voila, the blade got plenty sharp.
I don't know why this happened. Perhaps I was not using the jig properly that particular time. But I just like doing it freehand more than using a jig. Seeing that I can get a good edge with the freehand method clinched it. So from now on, until I see a reason to use the jig, I'm a freehand man.
--Billy

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Watch out that you're not raising the angle of the blade with respect to the stone. You'll get a sharp edge, but the cutting angle might not be what you want. Swipe the blade crossways a couple of times. If you've put a curve on the bevel, the lateral scratches will be in a narrow band. You want the lateral scratches to cover the whole width of the bevel. Of course, this tip is only for testing your technique. It'll play hob with a working blade.
--
--
"Keep your ass behind you."

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Australopithecus scobis wrote:

I haven't ever done that, but I really like the idea - and I'm fairly confident of what it would reveal if I were freehanding. I do believe that one can become very proficient and efficient using the freehand method - like Kirby. For me, however, I'd rather toss it in a good jig (Veritas MKII) take a few quick passes on a few different grits and get it perfect, with no rounding and with consistent bevel/microbevel angles.
JP
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wrote:

Same here.
I think some of the better jigs weren't available when that article was written. The MkII is quickly and easily repeatable and takes little "fumbling" to get the tool mounted..
Barry
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