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Sharpening help needed


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#1 MarcoG

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:14 AM

Hello everybody

I'm very new to woodworking but I have completed my first project. I made a scabbard for my sword (get your dirty minds out of the gutter, willya? ;)) using my Festool router (loving that thing) and hand tools.

Now I had a hard time planing the cherry wood because chip-out would occur. Sure, I probably chose very badly grained wood since I'm a noob but still... I have tried sharpening the blades with my Norton waterstones but frankly, this is just... I don't know, a lot of work coupled with a big mess and unsatisfactory results. Also, the chisel I sharpened is now less sharp than its companions.

Yes, of course it's my lacking skills at sharpening. I will not even try to deny that but the whole process isn't enjoyable.


So I went and looked around at how other people sharpened. It seems diamond stones are very big with people and it looks pretty clean, you don't have to flatten them and I've read they cut faster than waterstones.

What I not quite get is grit. I've read in the waterstone thread here that most people will go as far as about 1 micron (with stropping paste) after using an 8000 grit waterstone. DMT DuoSharp stones, as an example, only seem to go to about 1200 grits. But then I remembered, back before I declared my straight shaving a failure (from whence I have my Norton stones), that I've read that waterstone and diamond grits are not at all comparable.

So, to make a long story short: Is it true that diamond stones will achieve similar results at lower grits? Are these stones really lower maintenance as I am hoping? Are they less prone to errors (due to no uneven stone surface)? Do they make sharpening quicker?

Thanks

#2 Vic

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

Marco,

I only use diamond stones for rough work and I have small diamond paddles for my router bits. I don't think the size of abrasive particles go small enough on the diamond stones, or at least they seem not to be consistent enough. Also, the finer grits seem to loose their effectiveness rather quickly. My only experience is with DMT.

#3 Archie

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:25 AM

This is literally a free-for-all, clean-off-a-spot-and-throw-a-fit topic: everybody's got their preferences. Some have tried most every method; others, less so. In the end, most methods will work. What it takes IS DEDICATION TO A PARTICULAR SHARPENING APPROACH!!!!!!! That's it. I didn't like the sand paper Scary-Sharp method; I didn't like DMTs only; I do like Ark oil stones--but they're a bit slower; I do like all grinders!!!! but they don't do blade backs so well; and I love water stones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sigma Power; Chosera, Gesshin, Suehiro Rika, etc. They work well for me (emphasizing FOR ME). However, I'd never found what works for me if I hadn't been curious and willing to explore. Most of my exploration was buying used the first time. Best of all, was becoming friends with great people on these forums who shared their experiences, insights, and suggestions and having the opportunity to visit someone's shop and watch and test some of these approaches. I've literally seen some of us change our minds about the "best" approaches. That's why I'm not an evangelist for what works best for me. Preferences are just that.

Now, for lower grit work. My King Deluxe 300 or Sigma ceramic 400 are super fast stones at rehabbing a blade back or bevel. In fact, they are much faster than my DMT 325. Now, I have DMT xx-coarse but it's dedicated to flattening only my oil stones. The reason--I've found that with my heavy handed approach, I tend to wear down diamond plates very quickly. I have an iWood 300 diamond hone that is 2 or 3 times longer lasting and much flatter and has less flex; but, it too has become dedicated to one task. So, for me water stones work faster than Diamond or oil or coarse india stones at the lower levels. BTW, not all water stones can do this, so do be careful. Sandpaper in lower grits is really the one place where it works as well as any other medium. So don't over look that option-if it works for you.

As far as getting an edge sharp, that happens splendlidly around 1200 grit. What you gain from there is really refinement of the metal grain and consistency of the edge--improving from micro jaggedness to progressively less so (hence people who go to 30k or more). I've found that (FOR ME), 6000 grit will impart a fantastically fine cut on all straight grained wood. For difficult grains, I go to 10,000. For parring end-grain, I go to 13k--and it pars like butter and leaves a magnificently smooth surface. So, honing further from 6000 is really dependent upon what type of wood you're about to plane or cut.

Having spent time with my DMTs, they achieved sharpness but did not accomplish the same degree of edge quality as the water stones (or oil stones). But you can certainly mix up these mediums--with care.

Good luck,


Arch

#4 ChrisG

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:59 AM

Before you replace your stones, learn to get good results with what you have. If your not getting a sharp edge of a Norton 8k your problem isn't the stone. My advice is to get yourself a honing guide, which will help you get consistent results and help you to learn what "sharp" is. Then you'll have something to aim for if/when you develop freehand skills. I also recommend you read up on sharpening in general, as even a honing guide does not guarantee good results if you do not know what your aiming for.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that its bad to upgrade your stones or find a sharpening medium that suits you better (I have arkansas stones and more water stone than I need), but upgrading your stones won't get you better results if your not already getting a sharp edge with what you have.

#5 Pbmaster11

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 10:56 AM

honing guide is key. i just sharpened my irons and chisels... well worth the money. set the angle and go to town.

#6 MarcoG

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:39 AM

Hello everyone.

I am using a Veritas MKII. I've resharpened my chisel yesterday and now you can almost shave with it. It does work and I have sharpened plane irons to razor edge sharpness.

My problem is more with the mess I'm making. Even after soaking the stones for half an hour, the coarse grits just suck the water up like nothing, so I keep spraying more on them until half the kitchen is a mess. How long do I need to soak those thirsty bastards? ;)

Also, I think my next purchase will be a high quality lapping stone. I don't like rubbing the stone upside down on sandpaper.

What I don't quite get: I put the chisel into the honing guide. Then I used the 220 until the bevel was all equal looking. So I went to 1000 and then 4000. Here I realized that the stone was polishing one side more than the other. So I went back to 1000 and even 220 until the 4k more or less took all of the bevel equally (which should mean, in respect to the stone the bevel was then plane, right?).

So I went and created a micro-bevel up to 8k, And while that now has a nice mirror shine, the line between it and the normal bevel is not parallel to the freakin' edge. THAT I really don't understand. How does that happen?

#7 ChrisG

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:51 PM

Are you flattening your stones? Some of what your describing sounds like your stones are out of flat. If you're refferring to the back of the the blade then you need to work more to flatten the backs of your blades up front on a stone or other medium that you know to be quite flat.

Also avoid the Norton 220 like the plague. Its a pretty worthless stone in my opinion. I'm not a fan of sandpaper on glass/granite for sharpening (like at all!!!) but for very coarse work on backs or for reesatblishing a primary bevel it works pretty well... far better than the norton 220.

Also, there is no reason you should need to go to the 220 (or any coarse stone) every time you rehone the blade. 1k should be plenty coarse enough to pull up a burr and expose fresh metal. If your using micro bevel you can certainly skip the 4k as well. 1k to pull a burr followed by the 8k to hone a micro bevel is all you need. Thats half the mess right there. Regarding soak time, when I was using Nortons I usually just kept them in water, but when I didn't I never found that they (the 1k & 8k anyway, which is what I had) needed more than a few minutes of soaking.

As far as the slight uneveness of the micro bevel, I wouldn't worry about that as long as your cutting edge is straight across. Even very slight biases in hand pressure or very slight change in the lateral positioning of the blade in the jig can cause that. It really does't matter if the polish is perfectly the same thickness all the way across as long as your cutting edge is straight and evenly honed.

#8 MarcoG

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 02:37 AM

I flatten the stones on sandpaper over granite. As I said, a lapping stone will probably be my next purchase.

I will keep your comments about ignoring the 4k and 220 in mind though and see how that goes.

#9 ChrisG

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:10 PM

I overlooked your previous comment about the lapping stone. That's definitely a good idea. I find a good diamond lapping stone to be much less messy, and quicker than flattening on sandpaper. I started liking water stones a lot more when I got a good diamond lapping plate. Best of luck!

#10 Archie

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 04:30 AM

+1 on Chris G's response.

Messiness is a genuine issue for use of water stones. Period! Not all stones are so thirsty. The Atoma 400, though expensive (about $120), is a fabulous diamond hone. I've used and love the iWood 300 (less than half the cost of an Atoma). My DMT is not well respected since it seems to be the least able to last long and stay strong. That's just my experience, however. At the 1k level, the Bester 1200 and Sigma 1k or 1200 are the least messy stones I've used. At the coarse grit level, the King deluxe 300 is the least messy, with the Shapton Pro 120 being a close second.

BTW, I created a sharpening "board" from an old counter top. It's about 2' square and easily contains the mess so long as I keep it level.

Oh, and move to freehanding as soon as possible. Despite the learning curve issues, it really helps you get the most from your stones.

#11 MarcoG

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 08:53 AM

I don't quite get freehanding, to be honest. Sure, since with the honing guide a radius is involved, if you remove material long enough, you won't end up at the angle you set.

But what exactly am I gaining from doing it freehand?

#12 Archie

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 07:32 PM

w/o the guide, you have the whole stone, top to bottom and side to side, to move the blade for flattening and sharpening: that's typcially means that I don't get dishing nearly as much. Though I'll sharpen a whole bevel, I've got nothing against hollow grinding and use it on occasion--it's definitely faster and easier to achieve sharp since there's less metal to hone. I've got a Mk II LV jig that I depended on initially--it worked well. And I've got other high-end grinders, but once I learned how to free hand, my ability to sharpen blade backs and bevels just grew by leaps. I think this happened because I discovered how to hold the critical metal edges to the stone and hone only bevel or hollow as necessary. Now, I find most sharpening tasks to be easier. YMMV





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