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This guide in PDF form is my way of getting scary sharp edges on your chisels or plane blades. I have made many hand planes, and found that a simple speaker magnet has eliminated the hand cramps I use get holding the blades while honing. Everything used in this guide was very cheap to purchase and will help the novice budget minded woodworker.
 

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@gmercer_48083...

I like that magnet idea...
if you bed that tile to a second one or to a piece of ply it will be less likely to break... less need for a replacement...
you visit a granite top manufacturer and ask if you can raid their scrap... all kinds of improvements over tile...
look to rolls of paper over sheets.. less waste (more for less) and if you use a supplier over a BB the unit price went down..
I have one of those cheapo guides... just not accurate, they wobble too much and the clamp sucks.. shows on plane irons...
 

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@gmercer_48083...

I like that magnet idea...
if you bed that tile to a second one or to a piece of ply it will be less likely to break... less need for a replacement...
you visit a granite top manufacturer and ask if you can raid their scrap... all kinds of improvements over tile...
look to rolls of paper over sheets.. less waste (more for less) and if you use a supplier over a BB the unit price went down..
I have one of those cheapo guides... just not accurate, they wobble too much and the clamp sucks.. shows on plane irons...
Can't beat a Varitas Mk II when it comes to a guide. Well worth the investment. I, also, like the magnet trick...now where did I put that old speaker...
 

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I've had the cheap guide, and as @Stick486 says, I found the guide to be inadequate as the iron/chisel slipped. The clamp was just plain awful.
I use the Veritas MkII instead - more expensive but much better.

I've got King water stones (1000/4000 combo) from Lee Valley, DMT Diasharp 6" stones (found a set of 3 grits on sale) and I've also used wet/dry.
For the wet/dry I went to a glass shop and picked up a 12" x 24", 1/4" plate glass for under $10. Use this mainly to flatten the backs of irons and chisels. Use either a spray of water or spray on adhesive to stick the paper to the glass. Water is easier to clean off the plate glass.
 

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Nice job on the thread Gary. :)
 

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Can't beat a Varitas Mk II when it comes to a guide. Well worth the investment. I, also, like the magnet trick...now where did I put that old speaker...
there just isn't any comparison to the Mk II....
 

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Love my MK II. The scary sharp method is a great inexpensive way to start out with sharpening. That is what I used for a few years till I started working in water stones. I still use sandpaper on my granite block to flatten my stones.
 

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Mike, Thank You!
The purpose of this guide was to encourage someone that has little to no money to waste. Someone that may have been given an old plane but can't seem to make it work. Someone who has NEVER been able to get an Iron sharp. Someone who has difficulties gripping the blade while flattening the blade (as I did with getting hand cramps). The most important part of sharpening the blade is flattening the back side (and also the hardest most tiring part). Without the backside absolutely flat, the bevel can not be made sharp! If the back side Is made flat the bevel will be sharp...even if you wobble as long as the bevel meets the backside (as a moulding plane iron blade). and as for the wobble, this is eliminated by putting the pressure on the bevel as you hone, not the guide. I agree that there are many expensive ways to do the same thing, those are choices we all have to make.....Hell, I was just trying to help a beginner accomplish a difficult task in order for them to decide even if they want to do it...or proceed forward from here.
Thanks, Gary (from Troy, Michigan)
 

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Thank you Gary. Great contribution. Post serves its purpose well i.e. intro into sharpening on a budget. There are many members starting out who can benefit.
 

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Good article Gary. A lot of people worry about getting or keeping the cutting edge square to the body of the chisel and spend big money on honing guides. While the guides are nice, and they do help keep the cutting angle accurate my observation is that the angle across the edge isn't really that important since I rarely use a chisel squarely but more often than not I'm using it in a skewed position. I have no problem keeping them accurate enough by hand and eye.

Plane irons are a little more critical but planes come with a skewing adjustment so absolute perfection isn't really necessary either if your hand/eye skills are good enough.
 

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The most important part of sharpening the blade is flattening the back side (and also the hardest most tiring part). Without the backside absolutely flat, the bevel can not be made sharp!)
Those just getting started with sharpening... need to take this to heart.. as Gary said,,,the back has got to be perfectly flat. otherwise you will never realize the full potential of your efforts, regardless of the method(s) used. Its not rocket science, but one must understand the progression required. Once you find a method that works for you, doesn't matter what medium! Understand what it is your doing and why, what to look for and when to say "thats good"...and move on to the next step, putting an edge down is actually pretty cool stuff.
 

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edited for typones, understandability, add PDF and added information...

an easy way to really see what you are doing is to use a felt tip...
scribble all over the chisel/iron's back and when you start the flattening process your stone or paper will remove the markings on the iron's high spots...
do a complete coloring it you wish...
once all of the scribbles/coloring are gone the iron is flat...
you know, you only have to flatten the 1st third to half of your chisel/iron....
flatten all of if you want.. nothing stopping you... and this once in a life time deal...
unless the steel is real low quality (aka soft) or you a really abusive to your tools...

do the same for your cutting edge/bevel..
color it and start sharpening...
what coloring is removed will tell you how you are doing, if you are sharpening evenly across the bevel or if you are skewing the blade even a tiny bit..
it will also let you know when you have your true cutting angle/bevel heel to toe...

ie.. you set your chisel/iron in your gauge to the desired angle you want.....
color the face of chisel/iron's bevel...
make a few passes and look to see how much and where the coloring has disappeared...
pretty much everywhere... almost done...
spotty.. little extra work and passes...
only on the tip uniformly across.. convert to a coarser stone/paper and keep going till the color disappears..
recolor and proceed w/ the sharpening on/with progressively finer grits...
same for the back edge (heel) of the bevel...
you're not getting uniform color removal across the chisel/iron..
check for edge/end to side squareness...
not square... continue on and check for squareness often..
squareness is improving.. continue on...
getting worse.. adjust the chisel/iron in the gauge accordingly...

finished???
now do your back micro bevel...
can't stand left over coloring.. remove w/ DNA...
 

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@Stick486, I don't know what I'd have done if someone on a ski forum hadn't taught me the Sharpie trick.

Once I'd been tuning my skis for a while I only needed the Sharpie for "ding" removal, initial sharpening, or to re-establishing edge angles (I only have to deal with the base and side edge angles, so all I need is two fixed-angle file guides); as I went through my progression of finer files and/or stones to remove and smooth striations, I could feel and hear when a stone had done its job. Do you notice the same thing when sharpening tool steel?

[editing because I submitted this before I was really done):
@gmercer_48083, thanks for this thread. I'm about to start working with some hand tools, and it's nice to hear that with a little attentiveness I can get started sharpening things without spending yet another fortune!
 

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Lenore,,, you'll be more apt to learning how to read the scratch patterns left behind by the abrasives...
 
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Lenore,,, you'll be more apt to learning how to read the scratch patterns left behind be the abrasives...
That'll be new for me; most of the non-racers on the forum thought that recreational skiers who bothered with 600 grit diamond files and Arkansas stones on our edges were obsessive. OTOH, I'm pretty sure snow and ice are more forgiving than wood fibers when presented with an edge with even tiny defects.

I can clearly see a jeweler's loupe in my future...
 

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@Stick486, I don't know what I'd have done if someone on a ski forum hadn't taught me the Sharpie trick.
I could feel and hear when a stone had done its job. Do you notice the same thing when sharpening tool steel?
yes...
 

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That'll be new for me; most of the non-racers on the forum thought that recreational skiers who bothered with 600 grit diamond files and Arkansas stones on our edges were obsessive. OTOH, I'm pretty sure snow and ice are more forgiving than wood fibers when presented with an edge with even tiny defects.

I can clearly see a jeweler's loupe in my future...
my finish is pumice and a leather strop...
BTW.. you want those tiny defects.. they work for you...
but you don't want burrs... they break off and leave chips in your cutting edge...
back micro beveling takes care of burrs...

to get a lot of burs and big ones... sharpen in the wrong direction...
do sharpen from the cutting edge back...

pass along on your ski forum that you found a site where it's not that uncommon for 6 & 8,000 grits...
not to mention ulta micron grits...
that should shush the 600 crowd...
 
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:) you won't need a loupe :) just a keen eye and paying attention will get ya where you want to go. Paying attention being the key... Depending on the medium you are using, you'll learn to read the scratch patterns left behind by the abrasives. Long story short, once you've achieved a consistent pattern across the steel, its time to move onto a finer grit. If you pay attention, you'll start to see the variances between one grit to the next. Once the larger scratches from a coarser grit are "ALL" removed by the finer grit, its time to move onto the next finer grit. ...Some folks will spend way too much time on one grit. Once you've established a pattern by a given grit, that is as far as you can go. Some sandpapers will break down during sharpening, giving you a "finer" grit...but thats another story for another time :)

If you take the time to become proficient with the marker method Stick eluded to, reading the scratch patterns left behind will become second nature, "IF" you take note of what is actually happening as you move from grit to grit..
 

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my finish is pumice and a leather strop...
BTW.. you want those tiny defects.. they work for you...
but you don't want burrs... they break off and leave chips in your cutting edge...
back micro beveling takes care of burrs...

to get a lot of burs and big ones... sharpen in the wrong direction...
do sharpen from the cutting edge back...

pass along on your ski forum that you found a site where it's not that uncommon for 6 & 8,000 grits...
not to mention ulta micron grits...
that should shush the 600 crowd...
I finish up with powered felt wheels and green honing compound. It`s rated at 8000 grit and will put a decent mirror finish on steel. I also agree with getting the backs flat and that usually takes a lot longer than the bevels. I tried using a powered felt wheel on an angle grinder but it`s too hard to stay flat with it. I use a carbide sandpaper that is 2500 grit on a flat surface instead. The paper I got from Heltia and was under $10 for 50 sheets. It isn`t the best quality I`ve ever used but it ain`t bad either and the price is excellent. It will take the back to a start on a mirror finish and once you get the cutting edge polished up on the backside you really start to notice the difference in sharpness.
 
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