New member - need advice in tool sharpening

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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby gavin » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:30 pm

Chrisfrost wrote:Should I really be looking for a very big wet stone for this sort of thing?

If cheap, yes. I have an electric 56 cm one and it did not turn out to be cheap.

If you've lots of money to spend ( £800 with jigs ? ) , get a Tormek T7 - that's 250 mm diameter. Plus all the jigs it comes with - you will in time use them all. The fixing of your tool is the vital thing whatever abrasive you run. Freehand will NOT do, esp if you are beginner and esp if you are re-defining your angles. Find someone with a linisher aka belt grinder. Is there a woodturning club near you? Tool geeks abound in sheds around the world, and you are likely to encounter someone more than happy to help.

Frankly for all the effort you put in, I reckon you may be better to buy Ashley Iles pole lathe set of turning tools for approx £80. You can hone them by hand. If your skill is awesome and you have unlimited time, you won't need any grinding wheel. I have limited time and my skill is not awesome, so I use Tormek.

What stones do you use? For waterstones, Shapton are glorious good, IceBear are not so good. You can use oilstones. Stones aren't obligatory, for I gather Robin Fawcett uses his tools straight off the grinder i.e. does not hone. You can also use sandpaper stuck to wooden battens - google for Ben Orford's videos on this topic. His are knife-sharpening vids but you can adapt! Halfords sell decreasing grits: 40 thru to 2000.

Whatever method you use, always take felt pen and mark the surface you are about to abrade. The felt pen discloses your angle of attack.

Also get yourself a Richard Kell bevel gauge £6.49 plus VAT - a gift! Get his, not Axminsters. Consider a jewelers loupe, or other magnification. I like a microscope, but as others have pointed out, blades were made razor sharp long before optics allowed you to look at the edge.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby Chrisfrost » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:46 am

Thanks Gavin,

I did make a mental note to get a big marker pen - there is much more metal in the bevels now than there used to be and I can see how this helps make sure of the angle of attack on the stone.

I have a basic oilstone here - puts a very nice edge on flat chisels and plane blades ... Especially when used with one of those sharpening guides. Gouges are not so ... Well, flat!

I did see a video by someone sharpening knife blades by hand using a belt sander belt & wondered if that might be an alternative (now that the bevel angle is better). There ar also lots of ideas on line for jigs to help hold a blade firmly. I think I saw another post in here where someone said they now spend more time making tools and jigs than the objects they set out to make in the first place :)

I also got talking to a woodwork teacher over the weekend (yes, thy do still exist - under a different name) - his view was that the action of using the tool would hone it ... "All I had to do was keep it sharp" ... He was still chuckling in his beer an hour later.

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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby gavin » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:52 pm

Chrisfrost wrote:there is much more metal in the bevels now than there used to be and I can see how this helps make sure of the angle of attack on the stone.

Are your bevels dead flat from toe i.e. blade edge to heel? i.e. back of blade ? That is what you should aim for – unless you have a wheel to grind a hollow in

Chrisfrost wrote: I have a basic oilstone here - puts a very nice edge on flat chisels and plane blades


What grit is that stone? Is it dead flat? (Any hollow in the stone will mirror your blade profile) What box do you keep it in? Oilstones are dust magnets. If the stone is unboxed, dust will fill the pores of the stone, as will oxidised oil , grit particles and swarf. For this reason I don’t like oilstones, and prefer water stones. But clearly oil stones are liked by some folk, and they may work for you.
Chrisfrost wrote:I also got talking to a woodwork teacher over the weekend (yes, thy do still exist - under a different name) - his view was that the action of using the tool would hone it ... "All I had to do was keep it sharp" ... He was still chuckling in his beer an hour later.

I suggest you invest some beer in this man in return for shed-time. You can see how he walks his talk. You could take a piece of mild steel pipe say 12 mm diameter and perhaps 15 cm long and cut (with angle grinder or hacksaw) that along the long axis to give 2 pieces of ‘U’ profile and practise sharpening them with his assistance. If he is interested in helping you, he will rise to the pipe challenge. If he is only interested in looking good, he won’t. That the resulting mild steel blades won’t be durable does not matter. The learning does.

Chrisfrost wrote: someone said they now spend more time making tools and jigs than the objects they set out to make in the first place

Yep, that is a phase you have to go thru whilst you learn what works for you.
Chrisfrost wrote: see a video by someone sharpening knife blades by hand using a belt sander belt & wondered if that might be an alternative

Only if the belt is long enough ( too short and it gets too hot too quick) and if you can fix the belt grinder immovably. I tried a powered handsander. Waste of money. You can have it for £2 plus postage – but you’d be wasting your money.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby SeanHellman » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:16 pm

Robin Fawcett wrote:I still maintain that 25-30 degrees on gouges is too shallow an angle for turning tools - the edge just won't last. I grind my roughing gouge and spindle gouges to 45 degrees on a bench grinder until I can feel the burr then go straight to the lathe with them...



:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: really, Maybe if you only rough grind your tools. I always have sharpened mine down to stropping them and my edges last very well, saves a lot of time continuously grinding them. Quick touch up on a fine stone or diamond and away I go again. This way my tools last for ever as I am not continuously grinding them away. A well sharpened and polished edge lasts longer than a rough edge.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby ToneWood » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:01 pm

Another option that I find useful is a small electric wet bench grinding wheel. They are not generally recommended on this forum (small diameter, no jigs, etc.) but I find mine very useful - don't spend a lot of money on it though*. They are small (mine is about 2" width x2" diameter) and are relatively slow - ideal for initial grinding on blunt chisels, gouges, plane blades, kitchen/fishing knives, spears - they are a bit too small to be good for axes but I have sharpened axes on mine (the stone wore down fairly quickly on those though) before I got my huge wheel. Mine is no good for draw-knives but the larger new Westfalia below looks like it could be used for Dks. Mine is 250 grit, which sounds quite coarse but actually it leaves a much smoother finish than might be expected. I sharpen free-hand and, despite popular belief, I don't end up with hollow ground blades (which you'd probably get it you used jigs). You could leave it at that but I usually finish up with a sharpening stone or cheap diamond plates and Ben Orford-style sharpening sticks & strops; for turning, the 250 grit wheel might be smooth enough - up to you, see Sean's comments above. [I don't do turning though, my tools are used for hand carving - if you get a small wet wheel you could use it for both hand & machine tools].

ImageImage
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/WESTFALIA-WET ... 3f27242d66
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Westfalia-qua ... 7675.l2557

*Mine is an old American made one but Westfalia still sell some fairly inexpensive ones (they seem to go for silly money secondhand on ebay sometimes [see above], £60 and more, usually more than their current models' new prices :D - and the new ones look more versatile to me [see below]), there are other brands too. Don't spend a lot on this - these are supposed to be a simple, inexpensive option - I reckon around £10-£20 is right, maybe upto £25 for something special but not more.

Image £19.99 New
http://www2.westfalia.net/shops/tools/p ... rinder.htm
And spare/replacement stone wheels: £5.29
Wet grinder (inc. wheel) + 2 spare wheels + shipping = £35.56 (3 wheels should last an amateur a lifetime+ :D).

BTW I haven't used the above product (has anyone else?), so can't vouch for it. However, it looks viable and I would buy one if/when my current one wears out (down to last stone :(, with chisels & knives a wheel could easily last decades but with axes & wedges much less). Certainly not a Tormek T7 but then nor is the price... And, if you don't like it, you can always sell it on ebay - you might even make a small profit :D
Last edited by ToneWood on Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby jrccaim » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:15 am

Errm. Let me be a heretic. I am sure I will take a lot of, er, criticism for this. First of all, let us look at angles. For chisels there is no quibble. Chisels are sharpened to 25 deg and end of discussion. So are plane blades. Canonical, you might say. Gouges... ah, that is more interesting. When we are turning there are some more variables. There is for example the height of the tool rest. I cannot think of turning without a variable height tool rest. Here is what I think. 25 deg is a nice fine sharpening angle for a gouge (or a skew) to start with. So go for that angle. What I do is adjust the height of the tool rest so that the gouge, held level, rubs along the length of the bevel. The whole length of the bevel. I know, a pain in the a***. because you have to fuss with the rest height. But once it rubs then raise the handle of the tool just a hair. Voila, it shaves. Lovely curly shavings come out. And that's what you want. You do not want to scrape. Scraping is sometimes necessary but it puts a dull finish on your work. When you see those long shavings curl up then you know you got it right. So here is my moral. The exact angle is unimportant. What is really important is what the gurus call the "angle of attack." And that is a function of height of tool rest as much as what angle you put on the tool. Within 5 deg each way of the time-hallowed 25 deg I do not think it matters, if only you can adjust tool height. [Except roughing gouges, which are typically 45 deg. Heavy duty edges, there].

However there is one more thing to say. Whatever the bevel angle, if it isn't really, really sharp you are wasting energy. And you will be very frustrated. Our power-lathe brethren can get away with murder. They have two-horsepower notors on their lathes. We have only leg-power. Whatever my leg can do, it is nowhere near two horse, or 15 KW if you wish to metricate. So you really have to hone that edge. I use diamond stones for a prelimianary fiinsh. Then I go for the Japanese waterstones.Color me obsessive, but I aim for a mirror finish on my tools.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby ToneWood » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:11 pm

jrccaim wrote:...Color me obsessive, but I aim for a mirror finish on my tools.
Ditto, it doesn't take much extra effort (the finish I get is "polished"/"shiny" rather than truly mirror finish but you'll often/sometimes see a reasonable reflection of yourself in them).
Last edited by ToneWood on Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby Chrisfrost » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:10 pm

Thanks - I will keep a look out for either a linisher or one of these wet sones. All that I can report for now is that the 35 degree bevel that had had ground for me has helped significantly ... As has 'helping out my local council' by cutting up & carrying away some horse chestnut branches that a few vandals had pulled down.... Green wood is definitely a better material to practice with than dry scrap timber.

I am keeping the tools sharp on an oil stone at present - using the 'marker pen method' suggested earlier.

And I am getting nice long smooth savings curling away from the edge so I must be getting somewhere. .... Very satisfying once the rough edges / lumps have gone and the smooth shavings start.

I agree with the suggestion of a adjustable rest - I had planned to make one of those originally - but enthusiasm got the better of me and I just have a simple straight edge at the height of the lathe centres. So far the development of the lathe has all been in the treadle ... Mk III has webbing hinges instead of the leather - and has already lasted 4 times as long.

I really want to get back to finishing the bodgers bench so that I can start with the draw knife.
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Re: New member - need advice in tool sharpening

Postby jrccaim » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:01 am

Chrisfrost wrote:Thanks - I will keep a look out for either a linisher or one of these wet sones. All that I can report for now is that the 35 degree bevel that had had ground for me has helped significantly ...
I agree with the suggestion of a adjustable rest - I had planned to make one of those originally - but enthusiasm got the better of me and I just have a simple straight edge at the height of the lathe centres. So far the development of the lathe has all been in the treadle ... Mk III has webbing hinges instead of the leather - and has already lasted 4 times as long.


My method of turning is to hold the tool so that the bevel rubs on the work, then lift the handle a hair. Presto, shavings. If the tool is sharp. Without an adustable tool rest that is not always possible. Depends on the diameter you are turning. Judging from the pictures you had,originally, power lathe tools. Power lathe users can get away with murder. They have 2Hp or so, and continous motion. They sharpen to about 50 deg and do not hone. But pole lathes need less obtuse angles; you should do fine with 35 deg -- although I'd prefer 25-30, like Sean. And you must hone. Honing a chisel is easy. Honing a gouge is no mean feat. You have to rotate the gouge continously as you push down the stone. Otherwise you will put in a flat, or flats, on the gouge and it will not be happy. Neither will you. It pays to learn the skill, however. Took me a while.

As to wet circular big stone grinders. Yes. You will not burn your edge on a wet grinder. But go read all the stuff in the Tools section. Recommend you search on "wet grinders". Thing is, for gouges anyway, you need jigs. And either you spend a great deal of money on them, or you learn to make your own. I own a wet grinder and spend a lot of time making up jigs. Tormek will happily sell them to you, of course. A tranquilizer may be necessary as you look at the prices ): I'm no longer in the high-tech, high-pay business. I simply cannot afford Tormeks. And I like to make tools. Without jigs, there is no repeatability. And most of us do not have the time to learn to hand-hold tools reliably, time after time, on a wheel. If we had started at age 12 as an apprentice, maybe. But that is the past, and as someone said, you can't go there any more.

I really want to get back to finishing the bodgers bench so that I can start with the draw knife.


Quite understand! Shave horse indispensable for roughing out. As Jenny Alexander says: an axe will remove much more wood in a minute than a drawknife. A drawknife (say I ) will remove wood much faster than a pole lathe. So will a spokeshave.
Save that energy :)
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