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Sharpening chisels and planes Options
Dansilvernail
Posted: Friday, March 10, 2017 11:02:49 AM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 8/8/2012
Posts: 0
Location: West Linn, OR
Question: what do you all use for sharpening chisels and planes? Traditional stones? Low speed grinders? Diamond stones?

I saw an ad for a diamond stone (company is called DMT). After spending over an hour sharpening chisels on a set of regular sharpening stones (with only so-so results), this diamond sharpening tool is quite enticing.

Thanks in advance.

Dan
klandin
Posted: Friday, March 10, 2017 11:00:55 PM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 6/1/2006
Posts: 0
Location: Connecticut
Dan, is this for your personal use or for your classroom?

Without getting into a full-on treaties on sharpening I'd say forget the diamond stones. They are too expensive and they don't last long enough. Also, diamond plates aren't available in grits anywhere near fine enough for final polishing. I do like diamond plates for such specialty tasks as sharpening card scrapers, initial flattening of the backs of new chisels and plane irons and for touching up my turning tools, but for day to day tool sharpening tasks they can't hold a candle to other more traditional abrasives. For my personal use I prefer water stones. Nothing puts as fine a mirror polish on a cutting edge as an 8,000 grit water stone, especially when used with a nagura stone. But water stones are way too delicate and fussy to be used by kids. I've tried traditional synthetic oil stones with my students but when used frequently (as I instruct them to do) the stones quickly became hopelessly dished out. Instead I now use self adhesive abrasive sheets on plate glass. I made two separate sharpening stations. One station with 3 different grits for rough work (320, 400, 600) and one station with 3 different grits for fine polishing (1000, 1500, 2000). By using an inexpensive honing guide with these sandpaper sharpening stations my students are able to quickly and consistently produce razor sharp edges on their chisels and plane irons. With this system there is no worry about keeping the stones flat and whenever an abrasive sheet becomes dull I simple tear it off and stick on a replacement. In use these abrasive sheet sharpening stations work the same way as traditional stones so the skills taught are exactly the same.

Another good way to go for the classroom is a Tormek sharpening machine. These machines are kinda pricey (about $400) but they work very well and they are nearly fool proof to use. The edge that I can get on my Tormek may not be as good as what I can get from my water stones but it is plenty sharp enough for most student needs. My one complaint, and the reason that I don't use it with my beginning students is that when you learn to sharpen tools on a Tormek you aren't really learning how to sharpen. Most people will never own a fancy expensive sharpening machine. Instead they will go out and buy themselves an affordable set of stones. Therefore I'd be doing my students a disservice if I didn't teach them how to sharpen with traditional stones.

Keith Landin
Woodshop instructor, Woodstock Academy
"Mens tua sit implementum acerrium in fabrica"
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