American Woodworker

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Woodwork 

Winter 2013-2014

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The Unplugged Woodshop: Sharpening Essentials

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In the first session of my class, The Unplugged Woodshop, everybody learns how to sharpen a chisel. The fussy way.


When I first taught this class, years ago, I noticed that most folks were trying to take notes. Not easy to do when you're trying to follow a complicated process.


Now, students just watch and do. I created a handout that summarizes all the major steps, and each student puts it in a plastic sleeve for protection. Here's a handout for you:



1

Lap the back. Start with 120, 150 and 220-grit sandpaper mounted on a flat surface. Continue with medium, fine and superfine stones. Once a chisel or plane iron’s back is lapped, you won’t have to do it again.




2

Renew a chisel’s bevel using a 60-grit grinding wheel.  Grind at 25 degrees. Do this whenever the honed bevel exceeds one-half the length of a chisel’s tip. Grind a plane iron at 30 degrees.




3

Flatten your stones before sharpening. Use a glass plate with 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper and plenty of water. You can also flatten stones by rubbing them against each other, alternating sides.




4

Set up the honing guide. The chisel should project 30 mm. (about 1-3/16”) to create a 30-degree honing bevel. Use the same distance for a plane iron. This creates an approximately 35-degree honing bevel.




5

Hone on a medium stone (800 or 1000 grit). Press down equally on both sides of the chisel’s tip. Draw the honing guide to the center of your body.




6

Feel for a wire edge all the way across the chisel’s back. A wire edge is a small, raised ridge of metal. Once you can feel the wire edge, stop honing on the medium stone. Continue honing if you can’t feel it.




7

Remove the wire edge on the superfine stone. Firmly press the chisel’s back flat against the stone and push it back and forth three or four times.




8

Hone on the fine stone (1200 or 200 grit) until you feel a new wire edge. Remove the wire edge on the superfine stone.




9

Hone on the superfine stone (4000, 6000 or 8000 grit). You won’t be able to feel a wire edge from this stone. Hone the bevel 4 strokes, flip the chisel and hone the back 4 strokes. Repeat this back-and-forth process three or four times.

 

 

If you have any comments or questions to add to this blog, please scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, below the ads.


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