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Thread: Unable to sharpen plane iron, sharpening equipment suggestions needed

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Taran View Post
    +1 about sharpening using a Tormek.

    I haven't found it laborious or time consuming to sharpen a plane iron on a Tormek. A week or so ago I had an new/old smoother iron I needed to regrind and sharpen. I spent a couple of minutes on a high speed wheel getting it square and partially creating the bevel. I left about a 1/16" of thickness at the cutting edge. It's really pretty hard to get a blade so hot that it ruins the temper if you are holding to with your bare hands. Think about it, if you touch a 400 degree oven pan, you get an immediate burn. Your fingertips will tell you long before it ever even gets remotely close to that.

    Once complete, just use the standard jig to complete the hollow grind. When you grade the stone with the coarse side of the dressing stone, it cuts very fast. When you draw a wire edge, remove from the jig and flatten the back. You can finish by buffing the back and cutting edge with the leather strop, or put a nice secondary bevel on the blade with your favorite high grit waterstone. The entire process took me about 15 minutes. Once it's sharp, it is super easy to regrind the bevel when it dulls.

    The tormek is expensive, but it really is worth it. All that jazz about various stones, flattening techniques, paper types, just forget about it. Sharpening on the Tormek is fun instead of a chore. It's really that good. The best part is the machine comes with a dressing jig to get your stone round again if you dish the center or want to expose a fresh surface after repeated use.

    It's awesome.
    I have and love the Tormek. It's sort of like the old Jobo rotary fim processors (also a fine product of Sweden) in that there doesn't seem to be all that much there for the money, but once you start using it you realize that it's all been thought out to the Nth degree and Just Works. I particularly like their drill-sharpening jig.

    With that said I think that it's important to distinguish as you did between sharpening and grinding. The Tormek is great for sharpening, but a bit slow if you need to remove a bunch of material to repair chipping or something like that. As you describe, that's best done on a conventional grinder. Most of the complaints I see are from people trying to use it to hog off steel, and then imprecisely describing that as "sharpening".

    w.r.t. it being hard to burn an iron while holding it by hand, that depends on the tip geometry. If you first grind the edge at 90 deg and then shape the bevel as you described then the tip has plenty of cross-sectional area, and can't get much warmer than the body of the iron. In that case what you say is true. If on the other hand you try to grind the bevel all the way to a wire edge then you end up with a lot of heat being dumped into a very fine/thin tip (high thermal resistance path to the body of the iron). In that case you can get drastic local heating sufficient to burn the edge without making the entire iron hot or even warm to the touch.
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 11-20-2017 at 2:25 PM.

  2. #32
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    Patrick,

    Yes indeed. Like most things, common sense and experience is everything. Like you, even though I have been using my Tormek for years, it never ceases to amaze me how there is a reason for everything they did. Some things aren't even apparent until you do a particular task and then it becomes obvious.

    While I grind freehand, Tormek does sell the same bar jig that you use on the watergrinder. I bought one and some day plan to put it in front of a dedicated vertical grinder. The idea is you can grind and start the bevel on the high speed grinder and then move directly to the water cooled grinder without changing anything or moving the blade.

    As an aside, I actually bought a second Tormek so I could have the 6000 grit water wheel permanently installed. I can move from coarse grind to finish grind complete with secondary bevel in minutes. Really takes the drudgery out of sharpening and it's so fast, you don't have to fuss about if you can shave angstroms off of tissue paper. It's plenty sharp off the wheel to use as is, and when it dulls, just repeat. Its so fast, it's fun and not a bother.

  3. #33
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    Patrick makes a very valid comment IMHO, regarding grinding vs sharpening. I was admittedly trying to do serious grinding with my Tormek, which I do not think is itís strength. I had several BU planes that I was trying to regrind along the entire width of their bevels. I got in the habit of applying way too much pressure on the bar on my Tormek. It took a bunch of research to finally figure out I was deflecting the bar enough to produce inconsistent results. Tormek figured out they had a design issue too because they reinforced the keeper for their bar on the next model. I actually bought my Tormek when they were relatvely new on the market and still working out the current design.

    I also got interested in turning, via chair classes, which is where I picked up some of my predjudice for diamond wheels. Many turners use diamond wheels because they can dull turning tools so fast on wood spinning at high speeds. I also sharpen/hollow grind: axes, adzes, scorps, drawknives, wedges, froes and other rougher tools.

  4. #34
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    I'm pretty sure that Patrick is doing research for a new book that he will be writing that will cover all aspects of sharpening. I say this because he seems to have every tool, grinder, sharpening stone, chisel and plane blade metallurgy, etc at his disposal in his workshop. I suspect he is working on acquiring a SEM and hardness tester to add to his collection. I can only hope we will all get autographed copies of his book when it publishes and maybe even credit in the Acknowledgements section for giving him stimulating things to write about.

  5. #35
    My Atoma 400 plate and Norton 1000 stone arrived this week. I was able to do in about 20 minutes what I spent hours attempting on the DMT plates. I'm much happier.

    Iron is nice and sharp but the plane still isn't where it needs to be. I'll get it there, but considering I've put 40+ hours into this thing so far, I'd certainly just spend the money on a LN or LV if I were to do it over again.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Hutchinson View Post
    My Atoma 400 plate and Norton 1000 stone arrived this week. I was able to do in about 20 minutes what I spent hours attempting on the DMT plates. I'm much happier.

    Iron is nice and sharp but the plane still isn't where it needs to be. I'll get it there, but considering I've put 40+ hours into this thing so far, I'd certainly just spend the money on a LN or LV if I were to do it over again.
    Out of curiosity how did you use them? Did you directly work the iron on the Atoma, or did you just use that to maintain the Norton. I would do the latter for purely economical reasons, FWIW.

    Rehabbing old tools generally isn't a profitable proposition the first time you do it. As you've discovered this stuff can be ridiculously time-consuming until you figure out what really needs to be done (the entire back does not need to be flat...) and how to do that as quickly as possible. If you develop those skills you can save a lot in the long run, though. It's hard to say without seeing your iron directly, but I would bet that I could have gotten it flat in much less than an hour by hand, and probably much less still by resorting to Tormek and/or disc-grinder.

    Here's an interesting example of a very effective but relatively low-budget way to flatten plane irons, btw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOMjSwcEnsU
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 11-22-2017 at 1:42 AM.

  7. #37
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    A little before and after.....time frame was 2 hours....TOTAL..
    dirty dunlap.JPG
    A Dunlap #3 I paid $5....and...
    front view.JPG
    The After.
    shavings.JPG
    Considering I walked to the store and back.....was worth the Cardio Workout....

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Taran View Post
    ......While I grind freehand, Tormek does sell the same bar jig that you use on the watergrinder. I bought one and some day plan to put it in front of a dedicated vertical grinder. The idea is you can grind and start the bevel on the high speed grinder and then move directly to the water cooled grinder without changing anything or moving the blade.

    As an aside, I actually bought a second Tormek so I could have the 6000 grit water wheel permanently installed. I can move from coarse grind to finish grind complete with secondary bevel in minutes. Really takes the drudgery out of sharpening and it's so fast, you don't have to fuss about if you can shave angstroms off of tissue paper. It's plenty sharp off the wheel to use as is, and when it dulls, just repeat. Its so fast, it's fun and not a bother.
    Hi Pete

    I have been using a Tormek for about 15 years. I do not use it as a sharpening system, which is how Tormek envision it, but as a grinder. It remain on the 220 grit setting.

    These days I keep it for use on more delicate blades, such as laminated blades, where any overheating would be a possibility. The motorised strop does get used as well, on curved blades, such as gouges.

    What has essentially replaced the Tormek is a half-speed 8" bench grinder. This uses the Tormek tool rests and guides, and runs CBN wheels. This combination runs cool - almost as cool as a Tormek - but many times faster .. and, of course, with the advantage of setting the blade in a Tormek holder (on one wheel, the 180 grit - the other, 80 grit, is for freehand work).

    I've posted this before ...



    Link to article on my set up: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Woodwor...ningSetUp.html

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Chase View Post
    Out of curiosity how did you use them? Did you directly work the iron on the Atoma, or did you just use that to maintain the Norton. I would do the latter for purely economical reasons, FWIW.
    I just used the Atoma to flatten the whetstones. I figured the diamond plate would last longer this way, as you said.

    Rehabbing old tools generally isn't a profitable proposition the first time you do it. As you've discovered this stuff can be ridiculously time-consuming until you figure out what really needs to be done (the entire back does not need to be flat...) and how to do that as quickly as possible. If you develop those skills you can save a lot in the long run, though. It's hard to say without seeing your iron directly, but I would bet that I could have gotten it flat in much less than an hour by hand, and probably less than that by resorting to Tormek and/or disc-grinder.
    I have done a lot of cosmetic work too, so I'm guessing I have 10-15 hours toward making the plane functional. It's certainly been a learning experience, although I'm not sure I could do it much faster a second time around! I'm having an issue getting the frog square to the slot. I seem to end up with a cutting edge that's not parallel to the slot after I set the depth. I'm adjusting the cutting edge so the depth is the same on each side, but then it isn't parallel to the slot. Is this a problem? I also can't get the lever cap to secure the iron/chipbreaker without tightening the screw down all the way, rendering the lever useless.

    Here's the plane:

    Millers Falls No. 14.jpg

    Here's an interesting example of a very effective but relatively low-budget way to flatten plane irons, btw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOMjSwcEnsU
    Thanks for the link. That looks like a great way to flatten an old iron.
    Last edited by Josh Hutchinson; 11-22-2017 at 3:52 AM.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Hutchinson View Post
    I have done a lot of cosmetic work too, so I'm guessing I have 10-15 hours toward making the plane functional. It's certainly been a learning experience, although I'm not sure I could do it much faster a second time around!
    Probably faster, but not by enough to make it worthwhile. It takes more than 2 iterations to get a process like that nailed down IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Hutchinson View Post
    I'm having an issue getting the frog square to the slot. I seem to end up with a cutting edge that's not parallel to the slot after I set the depth. I'm adjusting the cutting edge so the depth is the same on each side, but then it isn't parallel to the slot. Is this a problem? I also can't get the lever cap to secure the iron/chipbreaker without tightening the screw down all the way, rendering the lever useless.
    There are several things that I know of that could be going wrong here, and probably more that I don't. Some others here (Jim in particular) have posted a lot about debugging stuff like this in the past. I think that it would be a good idea to start a new thread so it's clear that this isn't Yet More Sharpening (tm), and go from there.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Chase View Post
    Probably faster, but not by enough to make it worthwhile. It takes more than 2 iterations to get a process like that nailed down IMO.



    There are several things that I know of that could be going wrong here, and probably more that I don't. Some others here (Jim in particular) have posted a lot about debugging stuff like this in the past. I think that it would be a good idea to start a new thread so it's clear that this isn't Yet More Sharpening (tm), and go from there.
    Is that the title of the sequel?

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Barry View Post
    Is that the title of the sequel?
    I find Patrick posts to be insightful and provided at a high level of quality. He presents a scientific viewpoint that I find interesting to read.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    I find Patrick posts to be insightful and provided at a high level of quality. He presents a scientific viewpoint that I find interesting to read.
    I agree, just thinking out load that's all.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Barry View Post
    I agree, just thinking out load that's all.
    Yeah, that was a "load" all right. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Seriously, I don't mind Pat's occasional needling. He's right that I talk a lot more about engineering, tools, and sharpening than actual woodworking, mostly because I try to stick to topics where I know I add value.

  15. #45
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    Josh your excess time seems not directly related to restoring the old tool but re-inventing your whole sharpening system. You will no doubt recoup lots of time sharpening in the future. The plane looks wonderful by the way.
    Rarely do I find bargain old tools worth restoring. Mostly they are overpriced beyond belief and buying the very best new saves you money & a lot of time. I buy my engineer son tools to restore sometimes (as a fun project for him!). They become a not so fun project for me!

    What amazes me is a store in my town packed with old tools, rusted and pitted beyond restoration, almost beyond recognition sometimes! Who the heck is going to buy them?
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

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