Repeatable sharpening help

I know sharpening has been discussed on this group to death but I have another post about it. To date, my sharpening method is: get the initial bevel on a bench grind or belt sander, then move to sandpaper using the Veritas original honing guide. (At the time I bought it, it was the only one available, now I see they have a Mk.II version.)
My problem lies in resharpening or honing after using the tool once it has been sharpened. I think what happens is that I get the angle _close_ to what the original was, but not exactly using the honing guide. Or, as is way too easy to do with the Veritas guide, the chisel gets slightly out of square with the guide. This means the chisel usually ends up needing reground or at least started at the lowest grit sandpaper again. I've tried resharpening for hours just using the guide and can't repeat the original sharpness of the blade. Don't bump the chisel once it's in the guide!!!
So I end up spending too much time & frustration on trying to get the thing sharp and not enough time ww'ing. Is there a way for an amateur to get consistent results with the Veritas guide, or should I splurge and try a Makita, Veritas Power sharpener, or (yikes) Tormek? Tell me there is a better way!
Cheers! Dukester
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I have a Veritas Mk.II, and it works quite well. It sounds like a lot of your problem is just getting the blade square to the jig - one of the cheap little gray jigs that holds both sides of the chisel would solve that problem. They're available everywhere (they all look about the same, but prices vary): http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p3003&cat=1,43072,43078&ap=1 http://tinyurl.com/2w65hz (that's Grizzly, sold through Amazon) http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/10910 http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid114 You might even try your local home center or hardware store.
Once you keep the blade square, if you use a secondary bevel (or microbevel) a few degrees steeper than your main bevel, it wouldn't be as big of a deal if you were a degree off on your honing angle - removing most of a microbevel, or making a new one, wouldn't take long compared to grinding a whole new primary bevel. If you're not familiar with secondary bevels, google for lots of info.
Finally, I'd strongly recommend getting a good sharpening book (like Leonard Lee's) if you don't already have one. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p2991&cat=1,46096,46107&ap=1 and he also has a DVD, though I haven't seen it. Good luck, Andy
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I'm going to point out something that has *seemed* obvious to me for some time here- while a guide can be used to set a primary bevel, and then a "microbevel", it's still a lot of extra work, because you have to get that primary bevel flat first.
If you've got a grinder or a belt sander, which the OP indicated he does have, you just need to establish a slightly concave face on the bevel by using the profile of the wheel or the rounded pulley area on a belt sander.
Once that's done, you can use the tip and the heel of that hollow-ground "primary bevel" as it's own guide to sharpen your "micro bevel." You can still use the jig- that's not at issue, but why spend that extra time and wear on your abrasives making an area that will not be cutting perfectly flat and shiny?
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Veritas MKII is very repeatable. I put a microbevel on, then touch that up a couple times, then bump up the microbevel again and touch that up a couple times. I get a lot of use out of a sharpening before I have to retouch the primary bevel. It's far better than the old Veritas sharpening jig, which I've also used. JP
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says...

I own both jigs and the recent one is certainly more convenient, but I don't think you need it. Lee Valley has lots of other stuff you can spend the money on. Your jig will be repeatable if you mark a board or tack a piece of wood on it to use as a reference when the blade is in the hone. Maybe somebody else can explain this better than I am. I also own the Veritas power sharpener and would skip that one, too. (There you're talking relatively big money, about $400 with the extras.)
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I don't think this subject is discussed enough. I'm always interested in hearing how others sharpen their tools. It takes only minutes for me to sharpen my chisels now, but its taken years for me to get good at the process. A lot of trial and error, a lot of frustration, many $$$ thrown at gadgets. I use a sandpaper system, and a jig, similar to the MK II jig.
I use a little Delta 1" belt sander to get my initial bevel, I have various jigs for chisels and plane irons. KEEP YOUR TOOL COOL, dipping the edge in water regularly, else you will loose the tools temper It's at this stage that I also insure the edge is square. I next move to sandpaper, self-adhesive, good quality (very important.) I use three grits, from 400, 600, 1000, glued to an old table saw wing (flat enough for me, glass works well too.) I use the 400 till I've sanded the scratches out, then the 600 till the 400 grits scratches are gone, and then the 1000, where it starts developing a mirror. A burr develops after each grit and gets removed before going to finer paper. I use Baby oil for a lubricant. I can't say the tool is any better or worse with a micro bevel, but some insist it makes a difference. My final step to to hone the bevel with a leather strop, and a little rubbing compound. I do take care of the backs of these tools, insuring that they get the same treatment. Sounds much more complex then it really is. This is a 5 minute operation from start to finish.
I've not purchased too many edge tools that did not need some TLC. Sharp tools, work much better then dull tools, and actually much safer to use. Whatever method you use, or choose, give yourself the time needed to get good and practice, practice, practice. It's amazing to take a sharp chisel, or plane to hardwood, and have it cut effortlessly.
Sharpening tools, IMHO is all about the bevel.

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I think the best resource for this problem is Brent Beach's website: http://www3.telus.net/BrentBeach /
I'm still learning, but sharpening has gotten a lot more repeatable for me. I made my own jigs based on Beach's design and they work great. The issue with sharpening is that you need to work at a level of precision that is not required in the rest of woodworking. Most resources that I've read, including Leonard Lee's book, tend to down-play this issue.
There are three things that seem to really matter:
1. You need to get the blade jigged as accurately as possible. a. In your jigging your blade, you need a physical stop to both set the projection of the blade and to make the blade perpendicular to the jig. Beach uses a combination square for that. I use a wooden jig. As long as it is solid and you can put the blade back in the same way each time, it should be fine. In my experience, getting the blade square to the jig is more important than getting the projection exactly right. b. The more blade projection you have, the more of the blade you have to reference to make it square, which can really help. I use jigs of 4 different heights: 1.5 cm, 3.3 cm, 4.2. cm, and 5.1 cm so I can maximize the blade projection. c. Don't assume the sides of your blade are parallel. Reference off the same side of the blade every time. d. If the jig allows the blade to slip, then throw it away. (Hint: your older Veritas jig allows the blade to slip.) You'll never get anywhere in that situation. Make your own, switch to the Eclipse jig, or buy the new Veritas jig.
2. Errors in jigging will exist, no matter how hard you try, so you have to find a way to compensate for those errors. A few things that help: a. Make the first micro-bevel 5 degrees higher than the primary bevel, not 1 degree like the Veritas jigs seem to suggest. The higher micro-bevel is much more forgiving, so you can quickly grind back to the edge. b. Don't blindly accept the jigging of the blade. Expect to apply more force to one side of the blade than the other as you are sharpening. The more blade projection you have, the more correction you can apply. You can see when and where you need to correct by looking at the blade during your progress. c. When honing, after the first 5 degree jump, make each successive grit 1 degree higher. This makes sure that the grinding from that grit will go all the way to the edge of the blade and minimizes the amount of metal you have to remove.
3. Learn to test the sharpness. a. If the edge reflects light, it is really dull. b. I test the sharpness by holding up a piece of typing paper in my left hand so the paper hangs down vertically. Using my right hand, I apply the edge of the blade to the edge of the paper and pull down. After doing this a few times, you will quickly learn different degrees of sharpness based on how easily the paper cuts. I have found this method more consistent than the arm shaving test. b. Using a microscope or magnifying glass to look at the edge can really help diagnose problems.
Practice helps, also.
Mark
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Are you creating a micro bevel? If you're not, you should. It is easy to do with the Veritas guide.
When you resharpen, only recreate the microbevel. There is no need to resharpen the entire bevel each time (unless the chisel is in real bad shape).
--
Stoutman
www.garagewoodworks.com
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I argee.And since you only need to touch the microbevel, I have good success using no jig at all.
I use a jig for when I have to fix the entire bevel. For just touching up the microbevel, here's my technique:
1. Hold a plane iron like a pitcher holds a baseball (thumb and ring fingers on the sides, index and middle on top. For a chisel just use one finger on top.
2. Hold the bevel to the stone and rock it back and forth until you "feel" the bevel sit flat on the stone. That's the angle of your primary bevel.
(from this point on your had and wrist should remain in a fixed position. Motion should come from your elbow, shoulder and torso)
3. Pivot the blade up onto the front edge of the bevel (just slightly)
4. Sharpen front to back a frew strokes. Stop and go to step 2 just to recheck you angle. This will become less necessary with practice.
5. Flip the blade; set it flat on the stone and take two strokes to lap off any burr.
I'm sure it's not as accurate, and consequently uses more metal. This give me a really good edge quickly.
If I can't hone quickly, I won't hone as often as I propbably should. YMMV.
-Steve
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


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Dukester wrote:

Maybe I'm just not picky enough, but I've always seemed to have good to great results with a coarse/fine grinding wheels with mounts to put the tools in, and an oil-stone. Only thing I can't do well is drill bits. I even sharpen my late tools this way.
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*snip*

May they rest in peace.
Puckdropper
--
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm

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(snip)
Likewise ..... and never used a microbevel either. Always did my primary bevel at 25 and then a secondary (too big to be a micro) at 30. I'm trying the Scary Sharp (tm) wet/dry paper right now with some chisels and having mixed results.
Jim
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On Tue, 23 Jan 2007 18:56:25 -0600, "Dukester"

I know this isn't the answer you'll be looking for, seeing the options you've got listed for yourself- but why not get some actual stones, and just sharpen by hand?
It's really, really, not as hard as most folks seem to think- I've tried a couple of different guides, and had the same results you did. But pointing my index finger down the blade of a chisel while gripping the handle and sharpening on my Arkansaw stones gives me a keen edge every time, and usually very quickly. Those edges may not be *exactly* at some specific degree, but they are always sharp, and always make nice, clean cuts.
Give it a try- it's a skill well worth developing.
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wrote:

Maybe it's just the guide I'm using, but I would say that 7 times out of 8 I can't get the same angle, and it ends up being duller than when I started. I agree about having the skill, but I have put many hours into trying it with little success (with this jig anyway). Would I notice that much of a difference using stones vs. sandpaper?? Maybe I was looking for a silver bullet that doesn't exist; fast, easy sharpening that can be easily repeated.
Dukester
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On Thu, 25 Jan 2007 19:23:18 -0600, "Dukester"

I know for a fact that others will disagree, but I've tried the sandpaper method, and while it works for a lot of guys, it just does not work for me. I tried everything just as described, even scrounging up some thick, flat plate glass and using the recommended spray adhesive. I found the sandpaper clogged quickly, and it was way too easy to get it to crumple up and tear on me- be advised, I was not using a jig, having already learned to hand sharpen long before.
So yes, at least for me, the stones make all the difference in the world- and a set of oil stones is not really that expensive. IIRC, I got my set with three different grits mounted on a wooden block with a little bottle of oil for about $20. The oil has been refilled a whole lot of times, but the stones still look like new (well, maybe not just like new- there are a few stains.)
Couldn't tell you about water stones, I've never tried them.
Here's something that is appropriate to not only sharpening- but all manual skills. I know it's tough for a lot of folks to make time to do, but the middle of an important project is *not* the time to learn how to do something. I make a point of practicing basic skills until I get them right every time there is something I need to be able to do- with no project in sight. So, sharpen your chisels, then maybe intentionally dull them and start over a couple of times. If you've got a lathe, don't fear the skew, just put on some scrap and spend an hour or two just shaving it down with *only* that tool.
Then when the time comes when you need to do something, you can do it right. A lot of processes only get done once or twice for a couple of minutes at a time per project, and it'll take forever to learn to do anything at that rate. If you get that process isolated and into a single block of time, the learning curve is much less steep.
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fact that others will disagree, but I've tried the

You realize, of course, that you're doing it all wrong. Anyone that has been reading this group for any length of time would know that you must spend at least 1.5 hours per edge, work your way through the grits up to at least a billion grit and, I almost forgot, say a prayer to the God of Steel before beginning.

You're not missing anything.

Good advice.
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There is a pretty good video at wood magazine: http://www.woodmagazine.com/wood/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/wood/story/data/1162490595640.xml
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I've never used a belt sander to sharpen but with a bench grinder is it very easy to draw the temper of (anneal) of high carbon low alloy steel. The annealing temperature is something like 325 F.
So I suggest you try using low speed and/or wet grinding exclusively to see if that helps.
--

FF


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On Jan 26, 3:45 pm, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote: I've never used a belt sander to sharpen but with a bench grinder is it

It's low, but not that low. Tempering temperatures for edge tools are generally up in the 450 F range. That's a straw yellow color.
It is easy to draw the temper though, especially on a thin edge. And with a dull wheel.
John Martin
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Have you looked at the Sharpening Sled, (www.alisam.com)? This honing jig has positive stop detents with engraved bevel angles so you don't have to measure blade protrusion or use a seperate jig to set your bevel angle! It is also easy to set a micro-bevel by just loosening the handles and rotating to the next detent! whatever you set the bevel angle to it is right on, even if you remove the blade and reinsert. It uses a built in squaring guide to align your blade 90 degrees to the jig every time. It is quite a different guide than the others on the market. It doesn't ride on top of the stone but straddles them, so you can use the total top surface of your stones. There is also a model for surface plate/table saw top work, (scary sharp technique). This guide may be your answere before going the very expensive powered Tormek/Veritas honing machines. Mr. Lee's basic sharpening book is very good for the shelves of any woodworker's shop. If you can pick up "The handplane book" by Garrett Hack, just excellent! Good luck! Tim
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