OK, Here's the REPRINT of Steve's original. I guess we need to
reprint it, and a few other things, about once a year. How's
about the turd barge or the Klown Hammah.
Dave in Fairfax
Nov 1 1995, 12:00 am
From: email@example.com (Stephen LaMantia)
Subject: Sandpaper Sharpening
[No, you can't sharpen sandpaper. And please don't ask me how I
[If you don't like sharpening tales, or sandpaper, or
handplanes, or any deviation from simple declarative
sentences, please don't read this post. Also, it's a
process gloat, and it's windbaggy, so be forewarned.]
[And if you prefer one-clause synopses, here: "I sharpened
a plane blade with sandpaper." Now move along now.]
For anyone else:
I recently emailed a few folks about some attempts I made at
sharpening a plane iron with sandpaper. Some suggested I post my
story to the group. So here it is.
(Rich and David, I've pretty much rehashed my email to you guys
here, so you can move on out now, too.)
Let's see. Who's left? Oh.
I've recently been experimenting with using sandpaper for honing.
I had been getting tired out with the oilstones getting unflat and
glazed and needing to be lapped all the time, tired of oil all
the place and on my hands so I couldn't even scratch, tired of
having to clean the stones after each use, tired of having to keep
a conscious effort going to distribute wear on the stones evenly.
So tired of all of this.
So I started thinking about abrasives and abrasive action in
general, and read up a bit, and asked around, and found out that
there's nothing different, in principle, between sandpaper and an
oilstone. Silicon carbide sandpaper (i.e., wet-or-dry) goes up to
600 grit in the hardware and woodworking stores, but up to 2000
grit in the automotive finishing stores, as I learned from David
Opincarne, a local rec.woodworker and admitted metalhead who works
right here at the school and who sent me some 1200-and 2000-grit
samples and who's recently been helping me greatly to understand
the secrets of metal. For example, did you know that to produce
high-carbon steel, crushed bone from the skull of an infidel is an
excellent carburizing agent? Me, neither. Or that hardening the
steel in cutting blades is achieved by the sudden and even cooling
of the blade, and that the best known way to achieve these dual
goals is to quench the blade in the still-living body of an enemy
warrior? Same here; I had no idea. David's been teaching me a
Me and him and some other wreck.the.woodwork folks had been
lately about this abrasive business, and it got onto sandpaper
somehow, and so I decided to test something out. For the
sharpening-with-sandpaper experiment, I used a slightly-pitted 2"
wide jack plane blade that came with an old beat-up Stanley
#605 I bought last year at a tool swap. The bevel on the plane
iron had been somehow ground *concave* by the previous owner (or
else it just wore that way), so I first straightened the edge out
on the grinding wheel, grinding in straight at first so as not to
create a thin edge that would burn, and then grinding in a bevel
but stopping a bit short of a real edge, again to prevent burning.
Because of this care not to burn the steel, this grinding goes
and light, but it's time well spent.
Time now to lap the back behind the cutting bevel. I took a page
out of the plane-sole lapping book -- figuratively speaking of
course, you should never tear pages out of a book -- and used very
light coatings of 3M "77" spray adhesive to temporarily glue small
1-1/2" x 3-1/2" rectangular pieces of sandpaper along the edge of
sheet of 1/4" plate-glass. The paper I used was Aluminum Oxide in
grits 50, 80, and 100, and Silicon Carbide (wet-or-dry to you
laypeople) in grits of 150, 180, 220, 320, 400, 600, 1200, and
2000. The plate glass was placed with its edge flush to the edge
of the workbench.
I lapped the end one inch of the back of the iron on each grit in
turn. I didn't use any water; I just went at it dry. So as I
lapped -- can you call it lapping if it's dry? -- anyway, about
every ten seconds or so I'd stop and brush off the sandpaper with
whisk broom and wipe the blade off on my shirt. (On the coarser
grits, I found that a dustbuster vacuum actually cleaned up the
paper quite thoroughly, much better than sweeping it off, but this
sucking advantage disappeared at around 220 grit.) Since I
progressed through the grits so gradually, I found I had to spend
only about a minute or so on each grit, including the suck-down
sweep-off and shirt-wipe time.
One trick to efficiency is knowing when you've lapped the back
sufficiently on each progressive grit. I had previously had
trouble gauging this, and didn't know how
thanks. Steve it was.
and on the subject of scary sharp, I have a minor gloat.
road score the other day. glass. not tempered- it has a chip out of
one corner. about 2 foot by 2-1/2 foot. by about an inch thick.
think *that* will stay flat enough?
Nah, we've tried that here, too. Gets the OT police too up in arms
(which, is kind of anti-thetical to world peace in its own way).
Now we'll just use some glue to hold things in place until the brads dry
Thanks for all the information! I was actually looking at a couple
workbenches the same guy was selling. One was a homemade wooden bench,
the other was a steel bench with hardboard top that was in bad shape,
but replaceable. I'd like to buy something to start out with, and then
make one later on. I know I need a bench, but haven't been too
impressed with some of the Sjoberg benches I've seen, esp. for the
money. Was considering a Grizzly bench top and maybe Shopfox leg set.
What about the Kobalt type benches at Lowes with MDF top? All thoughts
Why not just make something serviceable but inexpensive initially and
then make a better one one of your first "real" projects? Or, like me,
20 years later, the "temporary" is still working just fine...of course,
I had some 8/4 x 16' clear (nearly) yellow pine I planed down for the
top and built a table for it and mounted the vise my f-i-l gave me and
it's now as comfortable as an old shoe...
Lowe's sells Kobalt benches? Must be in bigger stores or something.
You can get by with not much. I don't recommend this by any stretch, but my
workbench is just some crappy construction grade lumber jobsite kit I
picked up when I got my house, and my first dedicated shop space, and I
wanted to have a workbench in it, even though I had no real idea what I was
going to use it for.
There's a picture of what it used to look like on my stupid little website
somewhere. When I got into this hand plane tomfoolery a coupla years or so
ago, I gave it a makeover, rather than going to the trouble, expense, and
really downright inconvenience of building a real bench. I planed the top
pretty flat, then I bolted some pieces of a curbisde salvage walnut
veneered poplar table to it; making sure everything went down pretty darn
close to flat. Then I bored a full grid of 3/4" dog holes in it.
No tail vise, and one end of it is still a metalworking station with a
couple of anvils and a 4" pipe vise, so it's anything but ideal. It works
though. I'm limited to smallish projects as a practical matter in that
teensy shop anyway, and it's a suitable bench for suitably smallish
projects. Two face vises, one of which has a pop-up dog. Some dog holes,
some 3/4" oak dowels for dogs, and some other shop-cobbled work holding
gadgetry, and it gets the job done.
You can do MUCH better than this, but you can get by with something pretty
seriously crappy as long as it's flat and has a place to put your vise, and
a place to stick something to keep the wood from scooting out from under
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
A Zyliss vise ... hmmmm .. you have quite the find there.
Two things you can do with it.
1. sell it. You should be able to get a significant ROI on it. 200% should
2. Learn how to use it. If it didn't come complete with instructions, you
can find it on the booklet in alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking - I just put
it there for you - I found it on the web. It is an incredible vice.
I've seen them demonstrated at shows - they want $240 for them!
Two years later I found one at a marina dock sale (like a community yard
sale) for $25.
Its strong, light weight, and doesn't rust - it is great to have on the boat
in the summer, and the shop in the winter.
Check the booklet out, you will see that it can be used for virtually any
clamping requirement - and exceptional for use when planning. No wonder you
found a plane at the same time. I'm betting you keep the vise and use it a
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