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
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://tinyurl.com/2w65hz (that's Grizzly, sold through Amazon)
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.
and he also has a DVD, though I haven't seen it.
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?
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.
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.)
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
Sharpening tools, IMHO is all about the bevel.
I think the best resource for this problem is Brent Beach's website:
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
On Jan 26, 3:45 pm, email@example.com wrote:
I've never used a belt sander to sharpen but with a bench grinder is
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.
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
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!
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