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post #1 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Default Sharpening on the cheap

there are lots of ways to get good results sharpening. i'm a cheap *******, so here is my method ...

i was originally doing it free hand with chisels and an oil stone i got from home depot, but my results were not nearly as sharp as the blade on the plane dave sent me, so i decided to try the inexpensive robert larson honing jig.

i also picked up a bunch of different grits of dry sandpaper cheap (i work for 3M) and a buffing wheel and polishing compound from a clearance table at sears.

my sharpening station is simply a piece of melamine-covered piece 1 1/4" thick particle board, like what they use for desks. it is flat enough for me. if i really wanted to be anal about a flat surface, i guess i could get a few of the tiles marble tiles at home depot, or go to a kitchen place for a piece of granite countertop, but this thing is definately flat enough for my purposes.

i set mine to give me a 28 degree bevel, what i consider a good compromise between the 25 and 30 bevels that are so common for chisels and plane irons. i simply glued a piece of a free paint stirrer to a scrap 1x4 to make it easy to insert the blade.

i hold the sandpaper down with a weight or my left hand and run the blade one direction only (away from the sharp edge) to help keep it from wearing down the sandpaper as fast.

i also put a magnet on the blade to catch the metal shavings/dust which helps keep the sandpaper clean. every so often, i wipe the grey dust off the blade onto a paper towel, which i throw away when it gets nasty. that is also when i check my progress.

on a new blade, i start with 100 grit paper to make sure blade is square. when it is square, the sandpaper will touch the whole bevel every stroke. you can put marker on the bevel and run it a few times to see that, but after you have done it a while, you will be able to tell without having to use a marker. depending on how out of square the blade is, this part can take a while, but at least you can see progress as you go, and eventually it's square.

also on a new blade, i make sure the back is flat.

then it only takes about 10-15 passes each on the 220, 500, 800 and 1500 grit papers to get it ready for the buffing wheel. i have 400, 600, and 1000 grit too, but they don't really add anything, so i skip them. plus, i have 50-100 packs of the ones i use, so they are what i use most.

between each grit, i run it on the back/flat side a few times to get rid of the burr. on the 800 and 1500, i alternate between the bevel and back sides a few times with only a few passes per side to make sure the burr is as small as possible.

then i use the buffing wheel with my drill. the sears didn't have the green buffing compound, only the red stuff, so that is what i use. but it still puts a great mirror polish on it.

for a strop, the cardboard from cereal boxes and the like is a good option. again, i'm a cheap *******, and we have an endless supply of cardboard.

now my blades are so sharp that i can shave the hair off my arm with them. even the home depot chisels and the buck brothers plane iron.
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post #2 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 12:04 PM
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Chris; plane blades should have a very slight convex curvature, side to side. The reasoning is that it prevents the corners from digging in, ie the ctr. of the blade digs a wee bit deeper. I'm guessing that this'll get some replies to the contrary...

Interesting comparisons here:
Plane Iron Tests
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post #3 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 12:29 PM
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Heh...I guess I'll argue with myself!
Ron Hock disagrees with me...
"Check the blade to be sure that it is staying square. If it’s not, push a little harder on the high corner while honing the bevel to bring it back square."
HOCK TOOLS -- Sharpening Notes
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post #4 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 01:10 PM
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Man, I thought I was cheap. I'm so cheap, they have my picture next to the word in the dictionary!

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post #5 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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dan, some plane blades, especially for fore planes are purposefully convex. they can really hog out alog of material, and the corner lines would be very noticeable in that case.

smoothing planes like the venerable #4 might be very slightly rounded off at the corners to keep likes from resulting. but that is not really necesssary as they generally take very fine shavings at a time.
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post #6 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 01:55 PM
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Chris; the only reason i mentioned it was because I had it drilled into me by my HS Woodwork instructor; he was obsessive about it. The class planes were his 'children'!
I do like planing... very satisfying...and quiet.
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post #7 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaninVan View Post
Chris; plane blades should have a very slight convex curvature, side to side. The reasoning is that it prevents the corners from digging in, ie the ctr. of the blade digs a wee bit deeper. I'm guessing that this'll get some replies to the contrary....
Correct! (ish) Smoothers, I agree should ideally be slightly cambered for many tasks. Scrub planes (or a jack being used for that) should have a pronounced camber. A jack or jointer plane with a cambered iron on the other hand would be hopeless for trimming a door. As would a rebate plane, mitre planes, block planes, shoulder planes, ploughs, spokeshaves (except for those with convex/concave soles), etc - they should not have their blades square cornered and straight edged. It all depends on what you are trying to do with the plane. Here endeth the sermon

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post #8 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaninVan View Post
Heh...I guess I'll argue with myself!
Ron Hock disagrees with me...
"Check the blade to be sure that it is staying square. If itís not, push a little harder on the high corner while honing the bevel to bring it back square."
HOCK TOOLS -- Sharpening Notes

hahaha.......

Sounds like my shed.....

However, I do agree with your original comment for planes used to hog out timber before using a smoothing plane.

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post #9 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 05:12 PM
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Chris, this is a very good subject. I use several methods of sharpening, and most are relatively inexpensive. All very good woodworkers that I know of develop sharpening skills that keep their tools sharp, because top-of-the-line woodworking cannot be done with dull tools.
I did not know that you work for 3M. That is very interesting. Several years ago, I was shopping at Lowe's and spotted some sanding blocks and compatible sanding media that was labeled as "3M - SandBlaster", I bought quite a bit of the media in numerous grits and also a couple of the sanding blocks. I dearly love using those tools, as they perform very well and are very comfortable to use. The media is unlike anything else that I've seen since or prior to that purchase. I have tried numerous sources and nobody seems to be able to send me in the right direction. Can you find-out if that product is still being marketed? I have been able to find other sanding media labeled "3M - SandBlaster", but it is different from the open-washable media that I previously purchased. The current offering is available at Wal*Mart and it is cut to the correct size, but very different.

Thanks very much,
Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia

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post #10 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-12-2013, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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otis, i'll see what i can find out, but i'm in the hospital info systems division, so i'm not very close to the source.

but the perk we get is they have pallet sales where we get a pallet of stuff that we can buy cheap. that usually includes sanding supplies.
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