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Thread: tool sharpening

  1. #1
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    tool sharpening

    Hey just a quick question from a newbie. I have always sharpened knives, carving gouges, etc by hand with no guide and have gotten good at feeling angles.

    The question is should a get a honing guide for a plane? I feel like I can get a feel of the angle, and test with a sharpie, but dont want to mess up a blade either if I am wrong.

    Second question, I know I need files for sharpening saw blades but dont have a clue what to look for. I was thinking about getting the Bhaco kit from Lee Valley, is there another set up you would recommend?

  2. #2
    If you can learn to hone without the guide, I'd do it. It's one less step. You won't hurt the tool and you can always buy a guide later if needed. If you're concerned, you could get an old tool or a cheap one from the BORG for practice.

    Saw files always raise a discussion. I'll defer to others more knowledgable than I am. But you can get a bunch of background by searching the SMC archive for "files".

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Hi Brandon, I would think if you are comfortable sharpening other edge tools free hand, you would be able to do well with a plane iron.

    Regarding saw files, I would recommend you go to Pete Taran’s site vintagesaws.com. Click on Library, and then Saw Filing...a Beginners Primer. It includes a chart of what size file to use relative to the number of points per inch, not to mention the whole piece is a worthwhile read. I believe Pete is recommending Nicholson files these days, and I have used them as well with good results.

    Before you order a set of files, check your saw’s PPI. You may find you really only need a few sizes.

    Pete also has in the Library an excellent piece of setting saw teeth. Something else you will have to consider in your set up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Austin Texas
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    If you already free hand, stick with it. You can't mess up a plane iron by sharpening, just either make it better or worse, but not messed up. I laid out and cut some of the popular sharpening angles (25*, 30*, 35*) on some pieces of scrap that are large and stable enough to free stand next to my stones for a visual reference to adjust the angle of my chisels and plane irons before starting the sharpening. Worked for me. I have the Bahco file assortment from Lee Valley and have not used it much at all (sharpened two saws lightly), but the files mad my saws sharper and the files do not look worn out.
    David

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    If you can hand sharpen a knife, you can likely sharpen a plane blade or a chisel.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Are your planes bevel-up or bevel-down?

    In bevel down planes the cutting angle is determined entirely by the bed angle, so you can hone to a fairly wide range of angles without changing performance. For a 45 deg plane used on hardwood you can realistically get away with anything between ~25 and ~40 degrees, constrained by edge life/chipping at the low end and clearance at the high end. Others may cite a lower upper bound, with a lot depending on the "springiness" of the wood being worked, but it's a pretty wide window regardless. If you're comfortable with freehand knife sharpening and you have BD planes, then I think there's no reason to get a guide.

    In a bevel-up plane the bevel angle directly determines the cutting angle, so even a couple degrees' change in honing angle can noticeably impact surface "glassiness", tearout, and cutting force. Plenty of people freehand with BU planes, but you may not want that added source of variation in the picture when you're first starting out with hand planing. A lot depends on how consistent/repeatable you are.

  7. #7
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    I agree with Jim in that anyone who can sharpen a knife by hand won't have any issue with a plane blade. As to myself, if sharpening a thick iron (LN, LV), I tended to go to the Rob Cosman method. Since I don't own any of those anymore, my blades are now standard Stanley thickness and I've moved to the Paul Sellers method. That has treated me well for a number of years now and have no intent to change.

    Sharpening is a personal choice with any number of them working well. If either of those methods of free hand sharpening might appeal, there is ample examples of both on utube. If you need or want a guide - don't feel bade, that works very well too. Good luck, I suspect you'll adapt well. To this day, I struggle with knives so I'm a bit envious.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    As Jim has suggested feeling the wider bevel on a plane blade should be easier than feeling the much narrower bevel on most knives. I might suggest saving the money for a guide and using it for a grinder.

    If you would like an even surer system for registering against a plane bevel by hand, you might consider hollow grinding. Many people on this forum, myself included, fiind hollow grinding to work exceedingly well. The “hollow” makes a line at the top of the bevel and one at the bottom. Feeling the edges registering is easier than trying to feel registration against the entire width of the bevel. The hollow is created by a round rotating wheel, which many use to roughly shape bevels. You may start reading about cambered blades. Cambering is also typically done on a grinder. Grinders can be as cheap as a used hand grinder or as expensive as you want to go for an electric, variable speed, grinder. I use a simple Delta, variable speed, machine available at just about any home store.

    I suspect most people would find sharpening a much more pleasant experience if they started with a grinder. There are those who will caution against heat generated by grinders, especially when the cheap stones they typically come with are used, and rightly so. Discretion in their use typically defeats or reduces these issues when using typical stones. CBN wheels although they are expensive, may last a lifetime, are much safer and radically reduce heat. I know I wish I had purchased a grinder and CBN wheel much earlier. I would have saved a good deal of money and had a much more versatile sharpening system. More information on sharpening and many other topics is available at:http://www.inthewoodshop.com/. There is a long history of sharpening, including grinders and CBN wheels, as pursued by our own Derek Cohen.

    Tools For Working Wood also offers a variety of good saw files.
    Last edited by Mike Holbrook; 01-04-2018 at 11:45 AM.

  9. #9
    Not necessary.

    Thicker blades and hollow grinding are your friends

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Rural, West Central Minn
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    Hi Mike,
    Just a couple of simple questions, I think. Do you hollow grind ALL your plane blades, bevel up and bevel down? Do you camber your bevel up blades or just kiss off the corners to prevent tracking? I'm not talking about blades for shooting or scrub blades here. Thanks
    Chet

  11. #11
    Hey Brandon,

    Your neighbor, Mike Siemsen, has a handsaw sharpening class I took a few years (dozen?) ago. It covers the basics of sharpening pretty well. You show up with an old saw and leave with a working saw. As far as saw files, any decent triangular file that is the right scale/size to the saw you are sharpening and is not too coarse should be fine for most standard saws.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Chet,
    I recently bought a home made of logs in North, GA mountains. I have also taken a couple chair classes and enjoy working with green wood. I am probably atypical of the average poster here on SMC. I camber just about all my plane blades. I work: rougher, often split, greener wood. I tend to camber the entire width of my blades rather than only rounding the corners. As many on SMC will testify, cambering a thick BU plane blade is a challenge. I bought a CBN wheel after I had repeatedly failed at cambering BU blades via other methods. I can now shape just about any plane blade, even with heavy cambers.

    I have been working on better splitting and hewing tools which is testing the limits of my 120 CBN wheel. Today I received a broad axe head I won on an auction sight. The axe weights about 8 1/2 lbs and has a 13 1/2 inch blade. I am considering a coarser grit CBN wheel.
    Last edited by Mike Holbrook; 01-06-2018 at 12:46 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Rural, West Central Minn
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    Thanks Mike, I've been considering a CBM wheel for my Tormek T7. I know Derek highly recommends them, as the standard wheel is kind of slow and that's a lot of metal to remove on bevel up blades. Hope you have fun with your new axe I'll be watching for your post as you progress on splitting and hewing it sounds vary interesting.
    Chet

  14. #14
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    I own a very old Tormek Chet. It took me years to figure out that the particular model I had did not have enough support for the grinding bar to counter the heavy pressure I was experting, in an attempt to grind BU blades. I would probably need to replace the arbor and purchase another upgrade kit to get my older model operating like yours. It was cheaper for me to buy a Delta grinder and CBN wheel than make the repair to my Tormek. There are those who will say the Tormek is more of a sharpening tool than a grinder. Derek still uses his Tormek for specific kinds of grinding, as I recall, even though he has CBN wheels.

    Many things relate to specific users ability to adapt given tools and their skill set to the job at hand.

    Derek Cohen suggests using a secondary bevel on BU planes, as a way around having to regrind the large bevel on these thick plane blades. http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ Good information on CBN wheels, Tormeks.....most things sharpening wise.
    Last edited by Mike Holbrook; 01-06-2018 at 7:52 PM.

  15. CBN wheels are prohibitively expensive here, about 4 times the US price. Thats why I ordered custom made, 80 grit AO wheel from local abrasive wheels manufacturer. On top of that, I am running it at 130 rpm, in comparison to Tormek 90. Getting big nick out is now matter of minutes.

    My machine is improvised from cheap water cooled Chinese grinder, on which I changed everything from slow axle in gear box to wheel. Only worm gear is the same. I ordered 80, 220 and 400 grit wheels for it, as original Tormek wheels wont fit. I still need to work on polishing wheel, which will be MDF loaded with diamond paste.

    All jigs are Tormek ones, as they are best on the market from what touched in different shops in Europe.

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