I'm in the process of learning the pleasure of good quality and
properly setup tools. I recently bought 1000x and 4000x waterstones
and sharpened my block plane iron and my Marples blue chip chisels
(and my kitchen knives) following the instructions in Leonard Lee's
I was able to get the chisels to be pretty sharp - I chopped mortices
in pine using only hand pressure, no hammer or mallet. The back and
bevel are pretty shiny, though not quite mirror finish (I could see my
nose but not my nose hairs). The plane creates beautiful, thin curly
shavings, though I haven't tried hardwood yet.
But they're not scary sharp - I couldn't cut off arm hairs and I
didn't have any magical transforming experience like I've heard you
get from super sharp tools. Is there another level of sharp I need to
achieve? Would an 8000x waterstone get me there?
Yes, true sharpness and the full appreciation thereof will come with more
practice. I would suggest you go to the 8000 grit stone and then finish off
with a touch of the strop.
To help in your technique, get a jewelers or photographers loupe and inspect
the edge after each transition from stone to stone.
However, with the Marples blue chips you might have a hard time. They are
not capable of retaining a fine edge for more than a few strokes.
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I, like you have not achieved the zen of scary sharpness either,
but I have come to terms with it.
Once I get my Marples face (not got to hair) sharp, I tentatively test
them on my forearm to see if some hairs will actually scrape
off. If they do, then I oil it down and place it gently in its original
wooden storage container only to gently lift the next larger size
out for the same exercise.
Call SWMBO down to the shop to "see" herself - get a "yawn".
I have 6 of those babies and am up to the 5/8.
Of course, I never use them - just use my old beat up Stanley's
handed down from my (rest in peace) Uncle. Scrape
them over the sandpaper remnants from the Marples exercise
and actually use them.
Once I get my good set scary sharp. there's no telling where
my woodworking will go.
I can't even imagine what one could do with something better
than Marples, but that's where I am - lowly as it may be.
Sick but basically (sort of) true.
I've been very happy using the Scary Sharp system, but the steel I'm
using for plane blades (old guillotine paper cutter; automobile leaf
spring) may not be good enough to make a difference.
I wonder if a plane blade sharpened on an 8000x waterstone would be
any better than my scaryshare blades after the first couple of strokes
Question: Has anyone who has placed in, say, the top five at the
national planing championships been a scarysharp sharpner?? That
should be good evidence for what works best at this incredible, though
perhaps not "real life", competition.
On Thu, 29 Apr 2004 01:23:25 +0100, Andy Dingley
On Wed, 28 Apr 2004 13:57:38 -0400, Michael Press
4000 grit is good enough for knives and such, but you *need* to go up
to 8000 grit for things like plane irons and chisels. You'll see your
nose hairs and then some and you'll be able to shave all the arm hair
you want. But, like Steve Knight says, shiny doesn't mean sharp. Your
plane iron honed to a mirror finish on 2000 grit sandpaper is not as
sharp as your semi shiny plane iron sharpened on a 4000 grit
Also, I forgot to mention for 4000 grit waterstones and up you need to
prep the surface of the waterstone with a nagura stone. Lightly run
the nagura stone back and forth and sideways over the wet stone and
build a slurry.
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