kbrunco

Sharpening - Stones vs. Sand Paper?

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What are the grit comparisons between stones and sand paper?

 

Which system is easier to learn?

 

Which system yields better repeatable results?

 

Thanks.

 

Quin

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Stones can be had in finer grits, but sandpaper is cheaper. Many stone users claim paper costs more over time, but I think they aren't getting the true life out of their paper. Technique is basically the same for both, so the learning curve is about the same. Repeatable results depend more on your technique than on the media used.

I have tried both, and my personal preference is sand paper. I take my tools up to 2000 grit, then strop with compound. Makes a pretty mirror finish, but I can't really say that the tools cut any cleaner than if I just honed to 800 and skipped the strop. I do believe that a fine polish makes the edge wear longer, though.

If you are a beginner, the best thing you can do for consistency is get a good honing jig and learn to use it properly.

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==> the best thing you can do for consistency is get a good honing jig and learn to use it properly.

+1

 

Also, Lie-Nielsen and Veritas have posted about two dozen videos on YouTube covering sharpening.  That's also a good place to start.

 

LN pushes an inexpensive edge-clamp guide (about $19) and Veritas pushes their guide (about $70).  I've got both and each has their pros / cons.

 

Watch the videos, get a guide and have at it...

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I'm with hhh: I have both and each has their good points. I tend to use the Veritas for the narrow chisels because it has a wide roller which keeps the thing from rocking and maybe getting the edge off square.

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What are the grit comparisons between stones and sand paper?

 

Which system is easier to learn?

 

Which system yields better repeatable results?

 

Thanks.

 

Quin

 

It's easy to answer your basic questions, but the true answer doesn't lie there.

 

-You can go way higher in grit on stones than you can with paper.

 

-I don't think any one method is easier than an other to learn once you come to the determination of what "sharp" is.  Once you come to grips with the fact that "sharp" is the apex of two similarly polished surfaces, you can understand that precise angles and gadgets aren't the answer.  In fact, they slow you down.

 

-Once you are aware of the above, I feel like any method can yield repeatable results.  This is because the repeatability will come from you holding the tool correctly for consistent, reliable results, and your skill recognizing when your tool is sharp (or not sharp) and ready to put back to work.

 

I learned with the "Scary Sharp" method (wet papers on a marble block).  I quickly became frustrated with the paper slipping, wearing quickly, and having to have a supply of numerous grits of paper on hand at all times.  So, I basically found myself rubbing a tool on a surface with no abrasive quailities.  Basically, wasting my time.  I went through every method, every machine available, and ditched them all.  I use waterstones and my hands now.  I rarely use jigs, but an "Eclipse" jig does come in handy.

 

There are some great resources on the Web.  They can all be excellent.  My only recommendation is to pick a "mentor" and stick with him/her.  Many of the conversations I have about sharpeneing revolve around the complications surrounding the infusion of dissimilar sharpening methods.  I learned with Cosman's method.  It is simple, fast, and effective, and basically helps you realize what concepts are important and not.  Like having your stones flat. 

 

The sharpening process can be and should be fairly painless and not rob you of quality woodworking time.  After all, it's not rocket science.

 

 

miw

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I use water stones, 1000 and 8000, as well as the mk2 homing jig. Does a superb job. Check out the lee valley website.

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I tried sandpaper first but then switched to water stones.  I prefer stones, they are expensive, but I feel like they work better for me. 

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Hello kbrunco 

 

Well done for opening a can of worms  :). You will find all of us will have something that "works for us" and everyone is right, as what is most important is creating a sharp edge. And every system does work. Hard thing for you is working out what you like the sound of. I like my oil stone. I use an India combination stone for general work and use a piece of natural stone ) to refine an edge when I need an extra bit of sharpness. This system would cost you very little, Norton is cheaper your side of the pond than the price I had to pay.

The Schwarz likes them too

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Actually, the finest grit these days is on paper if you count lapping film as paper.  You can get diamond lapping film down to .3 or .5 microns.  That's in ridiculous fine territory, but I'll take the few strokes it takes to get an edge that sharp.  Be careful though.  That's way sharper than any razor you've ever seen, or any surgeons scalpel.  You don't even want to touch the edge to see if it feels sharp.  It'll part skin like nothing.

 

I have, and use, all the different varieties of sharpening mediums.  There are pros and cons to all of them.  What takes 40 strokes on an oil stone takes 10 on a water stone, and 4 or 5 on diamond lapping film.

 

Anyone can get a perfect edge with the Veritas MKII guide.  I highly recommend spending the money.  I can sharpen fine just by hand, but my helpers need to use the guide to do as well.  I use the guide if I'm bringing an edge back after grinding a bevel on a wheel.  It has two steps of micro-bevels with a simple twist of a knob to indentions.

 

I use sandpaper-regular wet-or-dry to sharpen jointer knives, flatten plane soles, and chisel backs on a surface plate- on sale at Woodcraft this month.   Just a splash of water on the plate to start with will hold the paper in place just fine, and make it a snap to change grits.

 

The diamond lapping film is PSA, so you need a piece of glass or something flat to keep it on.  I bought another one of the surface plates to keep just that on while they are on sale, and have used it a number of times in the couple weeks I've had it.  You can even put a super sharp edge on a carbide router bit with it.

 

I use oil stones if I'm at a job site and the work table is the top of a table saw.  If I have hot and cold water, I use a water stone.  Water stones have to be flattened every few uses.  The surface plate and 100 grit wet-or-dry is the most cost effective way to flatten.  Rinse the paper off, lay it aside to dry, and it's good for many uses.

 

I keep wet-or-dry in grits from 100 to 1500.  I have some 3M film that works great too, but I haven't drug it out in ages.  The films do last longer than paper, but wet-or-dry is good for a bunch of uses if you rinse it off.

 

I use a Norton 8,000 water stone a lot, mostly because it doesn't need to be soaked.  Put some water on it and it's good to go.  You really don't need anything between 1,000 and 8,000 in water stones.  It might take a few strokes more with that jump, but for me, with no place to leave stones soaking in cold weather, it's less time to just make the jump.  I do touch ups on the 8,000 when I'm in the middle of a long day of chisel work.

 

My suggestions:   Buy the 9x12 lapping plate while it's on sale.  Get sleeves of wet-or-dry sandpaper from Ace hardware or online if shipping is cheap.  Buy the MKII guide.  You can wait until later for add-ons like the curved roller.  Buy the set of four diamond lapping fims from Lee Valley when you order the guide.  Come up with something to keep the lapping film on permanently-like the glass they sell or something else you come up with.  On new chisels, you will probably only need the lapping film, unless you knock a chunk out of the edge somehow.

 

Lee Valley says the diamond lapping film works best with oil, and okay with water.  I've only ever used it with water, simply because I don't want an oily 25 pound chunk of granite to deal with, and it works fine to rinse it off with water.

 

Make sure to take your time with the guide when on the lapping film.  The edge will get so sharp, so fast in only a few strokes, that if you don't pay attention, when it starts to drag like an edge does on anything when it's getting finished with that grit, it can grab lifting the guide and slice right through the paper.

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Thank you, Tom.  I had forgotten about the sharpening films.

 

And as always, I agree with G S Haydon: "Can open.  Worms...everywhere."  :wacko:

 

I always tell people, "Sharpening is finding what works for you."

 

 

miw

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Marc had a Facebook post a while back about concerns with the Veritas guide, but I never learned if he received a reply.

To responded to your question, I do think sandpaper ends up costing more, but it works fine.

In The last podcast from Fine Woodworking Brian Boggs discussed using diamond paste and some sort of cast iron plate. It was interesting, but I am not really sure of the details. I am hoping they follow through with an article.

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+1 on the effectiveness of scary sharp with 3m lapping film. I've got my process down to 15 and 5 micron PSA film on glass for regular honing. I keep a 400/600 grit (cheap) diamond stone for 'grinding'. And I have a few other grits of 3m 1/30/40. I've found the PSA backed film easier than water and wet or dry and easier than 3m post it spray on back of wet or dry.

I will be completely honest I am considering a finer double sided diamond stone when my supply of film runs out; only because replacing the film on glass with a veneer roller just seems a waste of time, albeit fairly quick!

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Actually, the finest grit these days is on paper if you count lapping film as paper.  You can get diamond lapping film down to .3 or .5 microns. 

 

Very high grit waterstones and the green compound that is often used on strops have abrasive particles that are in this range.

 

I use waterstones, myself. All the sharpening systems work. What's more important is that you pick a system and stick with it.

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+1 on the effectiveness of scary sharp with 3m lapping film. I've got my process down to 15 and 5 micron PSA film on glass for regular honing. I keep a 400/600 grit (cheap) diamond stone for 'grinding'. And I have a few other grits of 3m 1/30/40. I've found the PSA backed film easier than water and wet or dry and easier than 3m post it spray on back of wet or dry.

I will be completely honest I am considering a finer double sided diamond stone when my supply of film runs out; only because replacing the film on glass with a veneer roller just seems a waste of time, albeit fairly quick!

On a slick surface like glass or granite countertop remnant, you do need either PSA or spray adhesive.  On a granite surface plate, the surface has just the right texture so that just a splash of water will hold the film in place, if it's not PSA, allowing change of grits in a snap.  I just leave the paper or film laying out to dry after rinsing it out.  It curls up when it dries, but is good to go with other soakings.

 

The diamond lapping film from Lee Valley is only available in PSA, so I have it stuck down until it wears out.

 

Another good thing about the PSA sheets is that you can stick it to something with a shape to sharpen cutters with other than straight edges.  I use drill bit shanks for beading cutters and such on molding planes.

 

I have an extra coarse diamond plate in the sharpening toolbox that I use to regrind an edge if I'm somewhere without a grinder.   I also have some diamond files that are used for sharpening things like hardened cutting edges on wire cable cutters.  Diamond does fine, but doesn't offer the feel to me of any of the other mediums.  With an oilstone, water stone, or even film, you can feel when you are done with a grit.

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This is great advice!  I am liking the idea of the films so far. Are there sand paper equivalents to the 1,000 and 8,000 water stone numbers?

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The one advantage to sandpaper is that it you can also use it to sharpen curved blades. While I use waterstones for most of my sharpening, I have yet to find round slipstones at the right quality/cost ratio. When I got my Veritas concave spokeshave, the first think I did was cut the profile into the edge of a 2x4 so I've got a good reference surface for sharpening.

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This is great advice!  I am liking the idea of the films so far. Are there sand paper equivalents to the 1,000 and 8,000 water stone numbers?

Lee Valley says the 15 micron is the equivalent of 1,000.      I had forgotten that the finest went down to .1 micron until I went to find this link.   http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=68943&cat=1,43072

 

For general use, I'd use the non-PSA films, but I use it on a surface plate that it clings to fine with just water.  Just rinse it off and it will dry for many uses.  http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=33004&cat=1,43072   That page says the .5 micron is about like 9,000.

 

I spent the four bucks on a sheet of the diamond lapping film before sinking the money into a xxfine Shapton.  It was money well spent.  I bought two sets of the diamond film, and have only cut small pieces off the second set to use on molding plane sharpeners.  I don't know how long it lasts, because I haven't worn one out yet.  One of my helpers did slice one though, but it's still useable.

 

Here's the link once again for the best 25 bucks you can spend on sharpening stuff.   Sale ends in a week>   http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2004864/7535/granite-surface-plate-9-x-12-x-2-a-grade.aspx

 

Woodcraft sells sheets of PSA film, if you need PSA and are ordering something else from them anyway, but I wouldn't waste it on a surface plate.   http://www.woodcraft.com/search2/search.aspx?query=3m%20film  That says that .3 micron is 18,000.

 

I still use stones most of the time, since I have them anyway, but this stuff works really good too if I'm near a sink.

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@OP -- As you may have noticed, each method of sharpening has proponents and detractors. But it's important to remember that each method has pros and cons and there is no single 'best' method -- otherwise, everyone would be using it. Personally, I use Gramercy Toolwork's Baldor grinder for tool shaping, a Tormek for establishing the primary bevel and natural Japanese waterstones (J-Nats) for secondary/micro bevels. My setup works quite well and the natural waterstones leave a about as keen an edge as you can get --- but the system's downside is cost and the need for a dedicated sharpening area (water).

Before you plunk-down your $$, I'd make the effort to view the free videos from LN and Veritas on Youtube and spend some time on one of the sharpening-specific websites. For example, Hock's site: http://hocktools.wordpress.com/ is very well regarded. Further, his new book is right-up-the with Lee (Taunton) and Lie-Nielsen (Taunton).

If your a visual-learning type, then David Charlesworth's DVD on sharpening is very good -- it's available from Lie-Nielsen's site. Chris Schwarz also has a decent DVD available from LN.

One final thought---For absolute 'quick-and-dirty', I use one other method... Say I'm in the middle of a job and my chisel needs a quick tune-up. I'm in the middle of an operation, so I don't want to take time to pull-out and soak stones....What I do is grab some scrap MDF plus a tube of diamond lapping paste and freehand a new micro-bevel. From the time I decide to tune-up the chisel to the time the MDF hits the trash is about 2 minutes.... Is it as good an edge as stones? Nope...But it's fast fast fast...and get's me back in the game.

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Pie in the sky dreams. I'd love to bring my eight or nine plane irons to a "meet" where five or six masters would guide me through their system on their media for a small fee allowing experience before purchase.

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Pie in the sky dreams. I'd love to bring my eight or nine plane irons to a "meet" where five or six masters would guide me through their system on their media for a small fee allowing experience before purchase.

Not quite the same as your dreams, and I haven't been to a WW show in years, but 'in the good-old-days' there were demos of different sharpening systems and usually a 'sharpening competition'.... Maybe someone who's been recently can comment on what's done with sharpening at the shows these days....

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For me it was paper to start learning. For less than 50 bucks I got four different grits 5 sheets each from Joel at Tools for working wood. I cut them in half and if I gouge one I'm out $1.50. Since I didn't know what I was doing Or how much I would need to sharpen I couldn't get myself to spend the money on stones. Paper seemed easy to learn on because no worries about oil or soaking in water and clean up. It just felt like there was less to focus on. After a couple years I made the switch to stones and like them better but starting with paper worked well for me.

Mark

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Pie in the sky dreams. I'd love to bring my eight or nine plane irons to a "meet" where five or six masters would guide me through their system on their media for a small fee allowing experience before purchase.

I'd be glad to show you for nothing if you lived anywhere near me.  I have all the different systems, including a belt sander (which I now only use for working on golf clubs).  It's all the same technique though. The edge you want is produced in any of the different ways.  Once you can do it on one thing, the other becomes obvious.  I used oil stones for 30 years, and still use them unless I have good access to running water.  There is no one best, or only, way. It's such a simple skill that I wouldn't bother to call anyone a "master" of it.

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==> which I now only use for working on golf clubs

 

belt sander? golf clubs? I don't even want to ask...

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I use wet/dry sandpaper attached to a granite plate with spray mount to smooth out rough edges, then move to 1000 and 8000 waterstones to refine the edge and micro bevel. I also made a mobile sharpening station from an old chest of drawers on casters so I can have it nearby. http://woodworkguy.blogspot.com/2013/04/edgy-business.html

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