yet another sharpening question

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Last year I invested in all the ingredients to sharpen with the sandpaper method (a piece of plate glass, honing guide, and lots of sandpaper from 600 to 2000 grit). After using this method for a year, I've concluded that I go through way too much sandpaper to make it economical. It seems to me that the automotive sandpaper I use becomes useless after just a few passes over one spot, and I go through a ton of it as a result. My question is, do others using this method find this to be the case, or am I expecting too much from the sandpaper. Secondly, what type of stones should I invest in instead of sandpaper. I'm leading towards Japanese water stones, and what combination of grits would suffice?
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If you want to go by what is commonly pushed on this group, expect to spend a lot of money on waterstones and waste a lot of time sharpening (and maintaining the sharpening equipment) instead of woodworking. If you want to save a bunch of money and time getting a great edge, send me an email. I don't feel like getting into a religious argument and sharpening is a religious subject with many.

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CW wrote:

Ain't that the truth.
Every once in a while I pop in a Tage Frid video and watch him use an upside down belt sander, probably with an 80 grit belt in it, to sharpen his chisel. A few seconds of flying sparks and that Put You Teeth On Edge noise and he's back to chiseling dovetails - or whatever.
Getting the Lapped Flat back of the chisel or iron is the PITA part - which only needs to be done once. WHY DON'T THEY DO THAT AT THE FACTORY!? They've got the machines, why not use them and save us a bunch of grief? I'm more than willing to pay a few extra bucks for a chisel with a dead flat polished back. Hell another $10 for a lapped flat iron back is worth it.
RE: japanese waterstones - they get the job done quicker than most other methods. BUT - they're messy and you need a flattening stone or ceramic flattening "stone" to keep them flat since they wear pretty quickly - by intent - it's the slurry that does the work. And if you're starting out with a dinged chisel or iron you need four of five stones 200, 400, 800 1000, 4000 and if you're anal about shiny - maybe an 8000. And with the 4K and 8K, you've got to be careful you don't put a gouge in them because their pretty soft. Catch a corner or raise the work a little too high and you'll spend 5 minutes reflattening the stone, a minute or two cleaning up the flattening "stone" and forget where the hell you were BEFORE the OOPS!.
And if you do any turning or carving, SCARY SHARP (tm), waterstones etc. are almost useless for curved edges. Turning tools see more wear in a minute than most chisels and plane irons see in a month.
That's where grinders come into play. But even then it's not One Does It All. The high and even "low" speed grinders will remove dings and restore a bevel -but a) can burn the steel and b) leave lots of scratches. The VERY low speed wet grinders (Tormek and now JET) will touch up a bevel and burnish it - but are slow as hell - and need jigs. Then there's the JoolTool which isn't like anything else in the sharpening realm. You can grind a new profile quickly without fear of burning an edge - and you can polish the hell out of the bevel and get an amazing edge -IF you have good eye/hand coordination - because YOU are the jig.
Because it's small I've got mine mounted on a little shelf on the left side of my little lathe bench, all it's Ninja Wheels for the various grits on a pegs on the wall behind it. A quick touch up with a 10 micron followed by a 5 micron and it's back to the wood. BUT I wouldn't use it on an iron or even a wide bench chisel.
Sure wish they'd shown Norm sharpening things BEFORE I got into woodworking. NAH - I'd still have gotten onto this slippery slope. The ride is just too much fun!
charlie b
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AMEN!! Are you listening, Rob Lee?
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Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Feb 4, 12:36 pm, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Lee Valley now laps their plane blades. Read the "tech" link on this page:
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pF294&cat=1,41182,48944
Mark
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wrote:

That was fast.
-Leuf
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Sun, Feb 4, 2007, 10:03am (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@accesscom.com (charlieb) doth sayeth: Every once in a while I pop in a Tage Frid video and watch him use an upside down belt sander, probably with an 80 grit belt in it, to sharpen his chisel. A few seconds of flying sparks and that Put You Teeth On Edge noise and he's back to chiseling dovetails - or whatever. <snip>
I'm always kinda fascinated by him. I sharpen my chisels, lathe tools, and knives, on my little bench belt sander. Way I see it, any time I use them, the angle I use 'em at is constantly changing, so the angle on them are probably just not that important - a case of "close enough, is good enough".. Works for me, and I like it a lot more than using a grinder.
Plane blades on the other hand, I figure need to have the angle as precise as reasonably possible, because they are used at set angles only. So, for plane blades I would definitely use a jig, and probably Scary Sharp (TM).
JOAT Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. - Johann Von Schiller
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You didn't mention what you are sharpening, but for chisels I use a water stone. I re-flatten the water stone with wet-dry sandpaper on a granite surface plate. I was thinking of trying this from Lee Valley, but haven't invested in one yet: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pU067&cat=1,43072,43071&ap=1
For jointer and planer knives I use sandpaper.
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Stoutman
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One more thing, I use a 1000/4000 combination Norton water stone for chisels.
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Stoutman
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What? You don't work up to a billion grit? How dare you post this?

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Stoutman
www.garagewoodworks.com
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Sun, Feb 4, 2007, 1:09pm .@. (Stoutman) doth sayeth: I only go to a billion grit (See Lee Valley for billion/trillion grit combo water stone) when making pukey ducks. Everything else gets less attention.
And the Woodworking Gods love you for having your priorities right.
JOAT Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. - Johann Von Schiller
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Then you can use the waterstones to sharpen, the flattening stone to flatten the water stone and sandpaper to flatten the flattening stone. Next, you need a sandpaper manufacturing kit.

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I thought you didn't want to get into a religious argument? :)
The granite plate doesn't get abraded (not supposed to anyway), therefore it 'should' stay flat.
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Stoutman
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Not talking about the granite plate, talking about the flattening stone you linked to. It DOES wear.

it
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Got ya. That's the main reason I have not bought it so far. I was skeptical of how long it would stay flat.
If it is easier/faster to use than wet/dry paper, I might be willing to flatten my stone more often.
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It is silicon carbide (the same stuff wheel dressing sticks are made from) so it should stay flat for a pretty long time. It is much harder than the waterstones. Should cut very quickly. If I were you though, the first thing I would do when I got it is to check it for flat. No telling what care they took when making it.

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So what is this sharpening mania, exactly?
Have we all been so infected with the "new and improved" ethos that "tried and true" is little better than a leper?
This group has got any number of folks who get excited by the prospect of aquiring an 80 year old handplane, and do all their work with hand tools- but when it comes to caring for those tools, those same people who made those coveted old hand tools must have been dead wrong when it came time to put an edge on them. Why?
Guaranteed, you go into an antique shop and look at the old furniture, the tools that made them were sharpened on oil stones. They didn't make a six month journey to Japan to purchase a gazillion-grit water stone every couple of years, and nobody was using special automotive sandpaper before the invention of the automobile.
If you can't sharpen your tools on a quarried stone, you don't know how to sharpen yet. Put your wallet back in your pocket, and spend a few hours learning to do it. All the fancy jigs and grits in the world will not compensate for such a basic skill. I'd bet a fair amount of money that a guy that can't sharpen a chisel without assistance can't really use it effectively, either- you don't use a jig for that, too- do you? If you're just into making them shiny and shaving your arm, you can do that the old way, too- only you can do it any time, not just when your jig and 50pc set of waterstones or assortment of microfine sandpapers is at hand.
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Philosophically I tend to agree with you... comes from my having worked at Colonial Williamsburg, VA. It took my kids meeting Roy Underhill and hanging around with him for a few hours for them to gain an appreciation for handtools and old methodologies.
Where we may diverge a bit is on the old tools. Simply from an opportunity cost perspective I'd rather spend money on L-N tools than spend countless hours reviving old tools. I've revived some old tools in the past (planes mostly) but spent so much time looking for or repairing parts and "tuning" the tools up that it made no economic sense, e.g., spend 3-5 hours repairing/tuning up an old Stanley No 4 and how much is it worth when you're done? When I take into account the time it took to tune my Stanley block plans I'd have been way ahead of the game to buy some L-N block planes. The Stanley 45 I have was found in the basement of the house I bought and it was basically new--factory grind on all the cutters. That plane has been worth the effort to sharpen cutters as needed but ONLY as needed.
BTW, I've used Arkansas stones for over 30 years and don't plan on switching to something else in my life time... they work. I tried several different honing guides over the years and found that I can do a fine job by hand using feel to guide the angle. If you put a bunch of Starrett measuring tools to them I'm sure you could find things to criticize but the bottom line is the tools cut as they were designed to...
John
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On Mon, 05 Feb 2007 01:05:34 GMT, "John Grossbohlin"

One of these days, I am going to have to take a vacation and visit those folks- sounds like a thing to see. They've got quite a reputation amongst blacksmiths as well, from what I gather.

Not so much of a divergence as you might think- I don't toss out old tools, but I generally buy new as well. Except for the cases where I make my own- but those are new as well, of course! It's not so much a matter of taking the time to restore them as it is taking the time (and getting up when it is essentially "the middle of the night" for me) to go to antique shops or auctions where such things might be found.

Exactly my point. Well, at least there are a few guys that haven't totally lost if over the idea of sharpening!
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