Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughts on Sharpening

After building my bench, my plane blades and chisels needed some serious attention. For a "softwood," southern yellow pine really does a number on hardened steel. I finished the bench several months ago, and have kept finding reasons to put off that desperately needed sharpening marathon. I have soft and hard Arkansas stones from Danswhetstone.com and they are fantastic for honing. But if the blade needs more than a quick dressing, I have to get out the sandpaper and glass plate. Don't get me wrong, the sandpaper method works great. It's just SO SLOW. Starting with 80-grit paper to take out moderate nicks, a single blade can take an hour. I had been thinking about getting a grinder, but I really don't have the space. So instead, I picked up a DMT Extra-coarse Dia-Sharp bench stone. Wow. Now I understand why DMT stones are so popular. It cuts quick and smooth, and there's no mess. I still need to run the steel over 220- and 320-grit sandpaper (and might look for another DMT to fit that gap) before moving to the soft Arkansas, but I can grind and hone in about 15 minutes. Money very well spent. After spending time to resharpen my jack plane iron, I'm once again amazed at how much easier woodworking is with sharp tools, and wondering why I don't sharpen more often....

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