Sharpening System Tradeoffs

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Correction: Seems the stones are closed to $100, not $120. Might be Lie-Nielsen's markup, don't know -- LN web pages says $120. Amazon says something around $100.

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myself power sharpeners are best used for basic shaping refining and fixing an edge. for speed and cost in my opinion. I use a makita to flatten the backs and get the bevel ready for hand sharpening. then I use the shapton stones. this method saves a lot of time getting the backs and bevels flat but is fast and cost effective to finish a edge. nothing wrong with scary sharp but the cost after long term. shapton's are spendy at first but they last so long that in the long run they are dirt cheap. myself I think DMT stones will never give a great edge with them alone and they wear fast. professional sharpeners will ever use diamonds to grind and sharpen high carbon steel. the diamonds just wear too fast. I have found this out myself. I sure wish they lasted longer as they work great when new.
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What about these diamond stones, top of the page: http://www.japanesetools.com/tools/sharpeningstones/sharpeningstones.php Those look pretty amazing. Compressed block of diamond dust, too expensive to try them but I wonder how they would wear over time.
Alex
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AAvK wrote:

If they're made properly they will wear extremely well. Think a lapidary saw blade. Those things last a long time if you take proper care of them. The reason is that the good ones have a thick layer of embedded diamond. As diamond wears away, new diamond is exposed. Most of the sharpening stones and such have only a thin layer of diamond.
Diamond abrasive tools are funny in that the diamond particles wear relatively little. They tend to stay sharp even after a lot of use. What wears out a diamond abrasive, usually, is that the diamonds come off as the matrix wears or as pressure pulls them out. Among other things that means its especially important to use diamond abrasive with liquid for cooling and lubrication and to use light pressure.
This is extremely obvious in lapidary work with diamond saws, wheels, belts, etc.
--RC
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this does not work when working diamonds and steel. the tips of the diamonds wear or break off. so the whole surface cuts slower. this causes the diamonds not to wear and not to expose the fresh ones. I was playing with diamond laps and sharpening and even the expensive ones made to wear and expose new stones never worked any longer on steel. though they did keep working on flattening the makita stone.
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I don't remember if I asked harrolson about them. but they are way to spendy for me.
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What's fun about watching this discussion is that I work down the hall from "Never Enough Money", and we have the same discussions by the coffee machine. I *think* his goal is to get to spending more time making shavings than analyses.
I have evolved to the following system. Not necessarily the cheapest, but I've assembled the pieces incrementally over the years, so I didn't notice the cost so much.
* Scary sharp for inital flattening and polishing of the blade backs. I've got a big honkin' piece of glass which can hold 5 1/2 sheets end to end. Start w/ SiCr and move up to the PSA Lee Valley sub micron stuff.
* Slow speed fine (and ocassionaly coarse) grinder wheel to shape a rough hollow grind. Wish I'd gotten the 8" instead of the 6" (same story for jointer).
* 1200 and 8000 stone for the micro bevel. Used to use the Lee Valley angle jig all the time. Still do sometimes, but mostly I do it by hand. Two handed grip facing the stone, elbows locked against waist, one foot in front of the other, rock your body back and forth "from the feet". This keeps the angle pretty constant.
* I keep the stones handy on a rubber mat on a side cabinet so I can turn to them and sharpen frequently.
* A2 blades that don't need to be sharpened as often.
* A coase DMT to flatten the water stones.
* A Lee Valley 1" belt sander for kitchen knives and curved edge tools
I have a friend who swears by the LV MkII system. The irony - power sharpening so he can spend more time using hand tools.
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I did the sharpy sharp method for awhile. I even bought a nice black granite reference plate for it as un upgrade to the float glass I had. That definitely made a difference and my results were fine. The problem was it still took me quite awhile to do and I would sometimes get variations in my results (due to my own fault, admittedly).
So, I went ahead and bought the Veritas MKII PSS and couldn't be happier. I mean, this has made sharpening my chisels and plane irons SO easy that I actually do it and often (as needed). I get exactly repeatable results and it is extremely fast. I can take a flea market plane iron and flatten the back and hone the bevel in a total of about 10 minutes, maybe 15. For touching up the edge, it takes literally a couple minutes and that's only if you change platters.
You definitely will want a second system for turning tools or carving tools. I'm considering the Tormek just for that, as well as thickness planer blade and jointer blade sharpening ease. At present I use a grinder and the Wolverine jig, which probably is what I'll keep for some time to come.
So, if I were you I'd get the MKII - it really is a brilliant approach to sharpening bevel-edged tools.
Mike
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On 7 Oct 2004 15:31:50 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Never Enough Money) wrote:

I used some stencil adhesive when trying out the scary sharp method, and it worked pretty well- not to mention it was a whole lot cheaper and easier to clean up.

Belt sander is too rough, IMO- I've tried it, and it works nicely for creating the inital profile, but after that I've always had to touch them up on a stone.
I've also seen people use friable grinding wheels to get a concave profile, and that works really nice, though I haven't seen one for sale around me yet.
You forgot the Japan Woodworker- www.japanwoodworker.com They've got a good selection of stones as well (not to mention those awesome hand saws and chisels hand-forged by samurai sword makers, *drool*) Looks like they're quite a bit less expensive than the others, but that may be a difference in the size of the stones, and not a discounted price. Lots of planes in there, too.

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The one problem with scary sharp that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread (my aoplogies if I missed it) is that sometimes I accidentally gouge the paper and if you don't keep the glass clean you get little bumps which can't help....
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Exactly right. I use paint thinner and paper towels, thoroughly gets rid if the super 77 adhesive. Alex
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