A few weeks ago I went ahead and ordered the MK.II power sharpener from Lee
Valley. I have been debating whether I should look for a more consistent
way to sharpen my chisels and hand plane irons and this looked like a great
solution. A few recent reviews and discussions pushed me over the edge.
I'm not disappointed.
I haven't had it very long and thus far I've only sharpened 5 chisels and
one plane iron, but I can already see that the system more than lives up to
my expectations. The way I set mine up was with 5 platters - 2 of the
thicker ones (4 mm) and 3 of the thinner ones (3 mm). I have 80/120
(zirconia) and 150/220 (aluminum oxide) on the thicker platters and 320/500
(alum. ox), 1200 (alum. ox)/5 micron (silicone carbide), and 0.5 micron
chromium oxide. The 150x = 100 micron, 220 = 60 micron, 320 = 40 micron,
500 = 20 micron and 1200 = 9 micron. For the 0.5 micron chromium oxide
step, I used the green honing compound that LV sells to charge the paper.
Anyway, the system does everything well. I was easily able to flatten the
backs of the chisels, and I even did this with the plane iron (it was for my
Veritas low-angle block plane). I'm undecided if I'll try this with my
larger plane irons, or even do it again with the block plane iron. It
really isn't possible to flatten the entire back of the iron, so it could
lead to poor bedding if too much material is removed.
I am a total sharpening newbie and so this system made a lot of sense for
me. In the past I've tried mostly scary sharp on plate glass with moderate
success. I had trouble consistently getting my edges square and other
stupid things. Recently I purchased a big black granite plate for
flattening plane soles, as well as other sharpening tasks. I've also tried
water stones, but very few times.
As I said, I haven't sharpened much with this system (or any other one,
really), but in about 5 minutes I took my block plane iron from having
several minor edge fractures (I've used it for about a year without ever
modifying the as-shipped iron) and was able to tune it up for approx. 0.001"
thick shavings. I posted a pic of the result on ABPW for kicks.
Hope this info is helpful to anyone considering the system. If I can get
results this good this fast, anyone can, I'm sure.