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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I tried taking magnified photos of a chisel that I sharpened that I sharpened using diamond starting at 200g,300g,400g,600g...then to oilstone 4000g, then used a leather strop with green wax polishing compound (100 strokes). I then used a 100x magnifying lens that attaches like a clothespin to my phone and took pictures of the cutting edge. I was surprised to see striations still visible even though I could easily read printing in the reflection. I decided to take it further, so I stropped (100 strokes) on a second strop, but this time with white polishing compound and it removed almost all the striations. It is so sharp I can test it slicing cross grain on pine by pinching the chisel with only my thumb and one finger. I think I am going to add the white strop to my routine of sharpening from now on!

The first photo is my set up for taking the picture. The second photo is the chisel reflection after green stropping. The third photo is the chisel edge (left side of pic) after green stropping. The fourth photo is the chisel edge (right side of pic) after white stropping.
 

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Theo
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How long does it take to sharpen a chisel doing it that way?
 

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Hi Gary, I really appreciate the trouble you have gone to .It shows what it takes to put a really sharp edge on a chisel or any other piece of steel.I was a beef & calf slaughterman before becoming a meat inspector & both jobs required having a sharp knife or two. But I guarantee I never had anything as sharp as your chisel.Thank you for explaining how it is done.Jamesjj
 
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You have to remember that sharpening is a grinding operation. The smaller the size of the scratches, the higher the gloss or polish effect. I have cut and polished thousands of gemstones, and faceted over 200. The truest polish is achieved when the finest scratches exist. My corundums (rubies and sapphires) will have to go through polish sequences (actually, very fine grinding operation), using ceramic wheels with 14K diamond paste, then up to 50K, and finally 100K diamond past. The scratches will be 1/2 the diameter of the diamond grit size, because theoretically the diamond particle partially embed in the ceramic disks. For other gemstones, there actually exists a surface flow when the stone heats up and starts to flow to create a gloss.

I believe you may be over doing it far a chisel, but each to his own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Theo, I use a guide on the diamonds and stones, which takes about 15 minutes to insure that I get the right angle and squareness. After that, to strop is fast...about 1 stroke per second= 200 seconds. For those of you that already strop with green wax compound, you already know how well a chisel will slice. I wanted to see if it slices better with a more polished edge by using white wax compound. Well I can say without a doubt that the difference is amazing how easily it slices through pine, which is difficult to pare cross grain without crushing the fibers. The photos were taken so everyone could see the difference between really sharp and super sharp. I am going to sharpen my hand plane irons this way, and am sure there will be a huge difference also.
 

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I'm no expert, but I have a book on the subject of sharpening. The author claims a honed edge is actually stronger and will hold up better than one with striations. The reason is that the tiny sawtooth projections of a ground edge are more easily bent over than a smooth continuous edge that has been honed.
 

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Thanks for the outstanding post! I'm not quite as thorough as you are, but I have found that the strop makes a huge difference at the end of the process. I now have a strop at my bench and at my lathe. Wish I had learned of the magic of polishing much sooner!
 

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I also hone with diamond hones to 600 grit then use a hard felt wheel charged with that green compound which is supposed to be equivalent to 8000 grit. It takes me about 5 to 10 minutes to reestablish a sharp edge if it needs to go to the diamond jones first. Just a couple of minutes of just back to the felt wheel. What a truly sharp chisel can do is amazing compared to one the average person thinks is sharp.
 
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Gary, That is amazing my friend!
Thank you for sharing this information. It and the comments are very helpful information to have stored in my head!

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia
 

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Nice job Gary. I'd hit the Like button but I don't have any showing, not sure why.
Anyway, I don't think I've very good at sharpening tools though I still try. I sharpened
my chisels with whet stones. I worked and worked on them (I have 5) to a point they
aren't too bad but still not great so I can appreciate what you've accomplished.

Thanks for showing us.
Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When you think about it...those striations are on the flat side, as well as the bevel side. By eliminating them as much as possible...it becomes less blunt at the cutting edge and allows it to pierce and separate the wood more easily. I couldn't believe how much easier it was. Try it for yourself...It Is Worth the Effort!
 

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a very brief article that "should" raise a few eyebrows by Derek Cohen. There can be no question regarding the "edge" put on these chisels. The point is more about the steel being used and how it performed. A very important consideration that many new to sharpening fail to recognize. At the very least, a good starting point for those looking to do their due diligence.

http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/FourChiselSteelsCompared.html

Gary has done a superb job of putting an edge on his chisel. However, is the time spent achieving such an edge worth it? Absolutely! IF the chisel is going to be used for pairing and finish work. If the chisel is to be used for roughing work, perhaps not so much. Type of work, types of wood used, time and finances all come into play when deciding what path to take when it comes to sharpening and tool choices. For anyone looking to invest in what might be thought of as a decent set of chisels, I'd suggest that a not so decent set also be purchased. Use em for your beaters, roughing work, etc... anything that you would hesitate to use a well tuned chisel on.
 
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