Well, I heard what was being said in the recent sharpening threads and
realized that a lot of people were very right: years and years ago,
before wet paper, before jigs, before everything, there were oilstones
and look at the craftsmanship that was performed. That made me
realize how, I don't know, stupid I was trying to find some magic pill
that would instantly make everything I own sharp without some work on
So I sucked it up and grabbed the old combination oilstone a friend of
mine gave me when her father died. This sucker has to be 50 years old
and nothing has touched its surface except for the box it was in.
I took it out, put some oil on it, and grabbed a chisel that has been
used and abused and attempted to sharpen it on the stone by hand.
No sandpaper. No jig. No, well, nothing. This was the first time I
have ever tried this and the results were unbelieveable. I think, no,
I KNOW the chisel came out sharper than any I have done in the past.
And faster, too. I couldn't stop and I grabbed an old block plane
blade and gave that a shot. (I admit I lapped the back with some
sandpaper but there was a heck of a divot in the back of the iron.)
After an incredibly short time, I had as sharp a plane iron as I ever
I admit it. I was totally wrong. The "old" way was hugely better
than any of the newfangled trinkets.
I completed my Cabinet making apprenticeship 30 odd years ago and have
only used oil stones. Am on my 3rd one. Have never worn one out, just
dropped the buggers :(. When the stone gets a bit of hollow in it, find
a good lump of concrete and dress it on that. Someone else's Driveway
works good :).
I thin motor oil about 50/50 with turps. If the stone starts to clog or
gets a bit of a sheen to it, just soak for a day in turps, kero or such
and it will be as good as new.
That was going to be one of my questions: what kind of oil should I
use? All I had laying around that was at least somewhat thin
(doggoned cold weather!) was a can of 3-in-1. It seemed to work well
but I don't want to clog the stone up! And on a whim, I cleaned it
with some mineral spirits and, after I did, I was wondering if that
was okay. Must've been!
Oh, and I really like the suggestion of dressing the stone on somebdoy
On 6 Feb, 12:32, email@example.com wrote:
Don't use 3-in-1
* It oxidises and goes gummy
* It costs a fortune!
Honing oil needs to be used in generous (or at least adequate)
quantities. A couple of drops from a dropper bottle of 3-in-1 really
aren't the thing.
I know way O.T.-- But I got to ask anyway.
I got a couple of oil stones from my Dad when he passed away --
And I remember that Norton quite a few years ago sold cans of light
"Honing" oil for use with their combination oil stones--
Does anyone know just what was in those cans of oil sold by Norton?
Was it just SAE 10wt non-detergent oil?
Or drug store Mineral oil?
Was it a scam?
All I remember my Dad telling me is to never use old used Motor oil
from the car with his oil stones. Don't remember why.
A lot of people use kerosene. I've read that lamp oil is
just deodorized kerosene (dunno how they deodorize it.)
I've used baby oil (light mineral oil) and lamp oil. I
like the lamp oil better.
Good reasons to not use used motor oil include the
fine particulates in the oil which will clog the stone
and exposure to carcinogens.
On Feb 6, 2:01�pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Add acid: used motor oil contains acid that is the result of
combustion, and is certainly not what you want on your best plane
irons and chisels and other tools. That, and the gunk that inhabits
the oil, make it less than handy for sharpening. I like a combination:
about half and half of WD-40 and 5 weight non-detergent (that's
because I had some 5 ND here when I first tried the mix: detergent
should also work well, and kerosene or lamp oil also work well to cut
the oil. All you really want is something to suspend the particles
coming off the stone and the tool).
I heartily agree with you. I am sure the more I practice, the better
I will be. And I am absolutely sure my edges aren't perfect and, of
course, I don't know how well they are going to stand up to use. All
I was trying to say is that this is the way it was done for literally
hundreds of years. They must've been doing something right!
I agree that my chisel and plane iron are probably nowhere near
perfect but I will say this: after I got over my hesitation and
actually DID it, I was done a lot faster because I wasn't spending a
good deal of time setting the items in the jog and measuring the the
angle and gluing on sandpaper, etc. I just spread some oil on a stone
and started to sharpen. And you know what? I actually LIKED IT for
the first time ever. It was actually FUN. That was why I went from
the beater chisel to the beater plane iron. Now I wasn't stupid! I
didn't try this on my good set of chisels or anything I really like or
anything, just for the reasons you mentioned.
I do need to practice more. I do need to see how long the edge
lasts. I still need to do a lot of things. But I figure if this
sharpening thing is more-or-less as easy as it seemed this last time,
I will be sharpening more often and keeping my stuff sharper than I
ever used to. Maybe that is the measure of consistency in the long
run? (Maybe true; maybe not!)
Good, very good. I don't sharpen very often, and I have only one
facet on my edges.
Far as bevel angle goes- what's the magic number, then? Mine are
between 25 and 30 degrees- there is no apparent change in perfomance
between the extremes of that range, and a 5* "tolerance" is easy to
hit and maintain without measuring tools.
Maybe not- see what you said above. "The only time I tried" There's
a touch to it that leads to an "aha" moment- and it doesn't take that
long to reach it. You just need to use the existing bevel as it's own
Perhaps this is the difference-
I just had a little flashback of seeing people frustrated with a few
tools that seem to have the same sort of abuse hurled at them-
sharpening stones, files and hacksaws.
In each of those cases, the natural tendancy is for people to try and
shove the tool right though the material is being cut or filed, and to
move as quickly as possible to just get it over with. When you
sharpen freehand, seat the bevel firmly on the stone, push forward
with even pressure at a moderate speed, then lift it up, reseat it on
the stone and repeat. Doing it fast just makes it a lot more likely
that you're going to rock the chisel and lose your angle. When you're
happy with the edge, give the back a quick lapping, and you're off the
With files, they only cut one way- if you take the pressure off when
pulling back, they stay sharp a lot longer, don't clog as much, and
will file just as fast or faster than going at it like a madman.
Exactly the same as a hacksaw. I know that doesn't seem appropriate
to the chisel discussion, but it really is- they all get treated the
same by people who do not know any better, and if you can master any
one of them, the other two are much, much easier.
Serious question, or a troll?
Just in case it's a serious question, you hold the handle towards you,
with your index finger extended down the length of the chisel so that
it looks like you're pointing at the stone. The goal is to move the
chisel as though you were trying to shave a thin layer off the stone
with the chisel "upside down" (with the bevel rubbing the stone)
I think that is what I have been trying to say: I had an "a-ha!"
moment and the flood lights came on. Actually, I accidentally
sharpened as you mentioned: I sat the chisel and the iron on the
stone using the bevel instead of a jig. I did move slower than I
normally do, probably because I was really thinking about what I was
doing and trying to get a feel for it as well. I didn't only push
forward but, rather, I made sort of figure-8's...is that okay? Not
All I know is that the darn things came out extremely sharp. And very
quickly with a lot less effort than it used to take. I think I relied
on the jig too much. I also think I pressed down a lot harder before
and this time I was using more, I don't know, maybe finesse is the
right word. And for some reason, I wasn't all nervous and jittery
this time around. It sort of felt right to me for some reason.
Like I mentioned before: I am sure I didn't have the most perfect edge
wen I was done but it was better than anything I ever did before and
by a large margin. I wasn't frustrated. I wasn't frazzled. I wasn't
constantly trying to measure the angle and check the results. "I was
one with the chisel" if you may. Maybe I should try the Scary Sharp
method again using oil or water. Maybe I could try water stones.
Maybe there are reasons to use a jig again...who knows.
But I did learn how to sharpen something and I used the two items
tonight just to try them. They cut like a knife through butter. I am
shocked, truthfully. How long they will last, I have no clue. How
long is long enough? How long isn't? And could this time be affected
by the steel they are made from? Absolutely. Do I need more
practice? Yes-sir-ree-bob. Will I take the time to practice more now
that I have sort of figured it out? You bet. Is that the point? I
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