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Thread: The one thing we all have in common even the spinny guys

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    The one thing we all have in common even the spinny guys

    I got to thinking yesterday, after some time in my shop with the neader tools working on my bench, that the one binding element between woodworkers of any type whether they be users of machines, spinny guys, flatwork guys or carvers or any other category of woodworking even scroll sawing.....

    There is one element that we all need to master and I mean really be aware of and master is the aspect of sharp. Whether it be the cutting edge on jointer blades, the knife used to carve or the bowl gouge used by the turner.

    I know we have discussed and continue to discuss this topic but i dont believe we can discuss this enough for every time we do i walk away with another revelation even if its the tinyiest few words of a sentence said by a to b and retold on the forum. It drives home the point same as safety and to me its the single defining thing that will help every person improve their level of satisfaction in their woodworking.

    I cut the chop for my leg vice yesterday. Wanted a curve in the leg. Then came the issue of how to take out the roughness left by the bandsaw.(yeah i dont think i used the right blade but i was not going to slow down to change it.

    So I mounted the chop in my new woodworking vice and got out my LV spokeshave. Started out trying to smooth it with difficulty. Then i remembered (and this is what i am pointing to in this post) reading Stu's post last week of Garrets visit and how what hit him was that sharp had a new meaning to him. So i went over to my sharpening setup and all i did was hone the blade on my leather strop which is saturated in Herbs Yellowstone. Lapped the back of the blade and mounted it.

    What a difference. Once again i had the "sharp" element enhanced for me. The difference was day and night and my enjoyment went up 1000%.

    Before edge and after edge once the blade was sharp of course
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    Now had that comment not been made last week and the week before and before, I would not have had it in my conciousness and as a novice newby probably would have said to myself "Keeble you using the wrong tool this is obviously not right so get the sander and smooth it with the sander." Then i would never evolve as a woodworker. Yeah I would be a machine operator but then i still need to know that ya needs clean and sharp sandpaper so you never really get away from sharp.

    I dont think i can emphasize enough just how much the comments people make here can impact the quality of enjoyment one gets from your hobby and of all the topics that get discussed i dont think we can say enough about sharp and the sharpening process.

    I read the LV book by Mr. Lee. I have bought stones, a grinder, balanced my grinding wheel (what a difference that made by the way) learnt the scary sharp method and then thought i had sharp. Then Don said hey i go to 2000 grit or something of the kind and i said to myself !!!. Better do some hunting for finer paper and what a difference.

    This did get me thinking though about the spinny guys. I saw the difference it made to my turning when i gained awareness as to the need to sharpen a turning tool on the grinder. But here is a question for those of you who read neader posts. If the plane blade needs to be scary sharp to be a pleasure to use and achieve great cuts, why dont you guys hone and refine your tools the same way. I dont see much talk of this aspect in turning.

    So I thought i would ask ya all to throw your 5 cents worth into the ring on sharpening and your little extra tidbit of knowledge that made you go over the edge. Sorta like create the ultimate reference post for sharpening in the hope that we all benefit and take our abilities to that next level.

    Also add the trade offs, i mean time to stop, costs, like sandpaper is great but after some time its gotta cost and takes up more space. When i see Stus toolbox of stones or Bills new stone bath setup I am on the edge of changing over. At least the paper got me to understand what an edge means. What say you that have the Worksharp, is it any good? substitute for a grinder or a general purpose sharpener. Is it the one stop shop with minimum space?

    So guys with the seasonal spirit of goodwill i ask you to share you experience and knowledge of the one element that binds all woodworkers together. Sharpening......

    Tips, tricks, experience ideas etc welcome. Also any disagreement or there is no debate.

    One other point that i think is essential, brought out in Toni's post of his dovetail cutting learning excercise.

    Practice, Pratice, Practice....

  2. #2

    Shortly after I first started turning, a friend threw out a skew challenge. Myself and Bernie Weishapl made it a goal to learn to use the skew. The skew is now one of, if not, my favorite turning tools.

    Two things I learned...practice and sharp, sharp, sharp! I grind and hone.

    "Sharp" makes a difference!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    ok rob ,,tell us what your sharpening schedule is???
    what parts do you have that make it up?
    your method of getting to the desired sharpness?
    pics PLEASE
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    NorCal, USA
    Rob, good post. I hope this will turn out to be the “ultimate reference post for sharpening”. One of the reasons I don’t sharpen my tools is lack of knowledge of how to do it properly and economically (time wise, I really don’t want to spend more time sharpening a tool than the time that it takes to make the project.) I learned about sharp using my lathe tools. When I got a Wolverine sharpening system, learned how to use it and WHEN to use it (several sharpenings per bowl, not several bowls per sharpening) it really hit home, both in ease of use, but also safety wise. It further hit home when I used a dull chisel to take off the last nub of the tenon from the bottom of a bowl. Rather than slicing the nub off, the dull chisel ripped it off, laving tear out that I filled with sawdust and glue. It was an obvious repair job. My chisels are now sharper, but probably not the correct way. I just used a high speed grinder. I have five planes wrapped up in newspaper sitting in the bottom of a box that I would like to use - but they are dull. It would be nice to learn how to sharpen them correctly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Great Post Rob and Chuck for those planes, just package them up and ship em out here I am sure that I could find time to sharpen em up and some day I might returnem to ya..
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Totally agree on the "sharp" awareness factor. I frequently see/hear folks refer to 'sharp enough to shave with'. I can shave with something a lot "less sharp" that I like my plane irons ;-) Between the Worksharp 3000 and a scary-sharp setup I built way back I get mirrors.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    The funny thing about sharpening is that many of us are able to get that fantastic razor edge on our tools, but then we tend to forget that we must keep it that way. Many of us wait to sharpen until we notice that the tools don't cut as they use to, then it is too late already.

    I've changed my sharpening habits from spending a whole saturday or sunday in honing most of my tools and expect them to last sharpen to spending a maximum of ten to fifteen minutes at the begining of each ww session in honing the tools I'm going to use, and maybe a minute or two in honing the one that I didn't foresee to use and I need at an specific moment.

    I've found that this system is less tiring, less frustrating and it saves a lot of time that can be devoted to woodworking. Abraham Lincoln's saying is absolutely true.

    I strop my gouges almost each time I stop to look at piece I'm carving, call me freak but I know if they are sharp if they make the right noise, or maybe I should say the opposite, I know they need to be sharpened when they change the noise they make.

    As per the stones I've collected quite a few until I found those who worked well for me and my tools, I use oil stones for my gouges and water stones with some incursions in oil ones for my other ww tools.

    A side comment here. all of you wax the soles of your metal planes and the tables of your saws or jointers, me too but I also wax the blade of my hand saws and very specially my dovetail saw before each set of dovetails.
    A shallow cut on a candle just to load the saw teeth with wax works wonders.

    Besides having carpel tunnel syndrome, I benefit from having sharp tools and reassesing each time I make a hand effort or hold a tool or piece if that effort is properly done and with the right amount of force is also changing my ways of working.

    One of the things I noticed is that we all tend to grasp, grab and hold tools and pieces with a lot more force than needed.
    If We think before, we have sharp tools and we use them properly, we'll notice that ww becomes more like a dance than a fight.

    Sorry guys if I bored you.
    Last edited by Toni Ciuraneta; 12-14-2009 at 07:45 PM.
    Best regards,

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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  8. #8
    I try to keep the habit of sharpening the chisels at the end of a day in the shop so that the next day it's straight to the cutting.

    Toni mentions about over applying force with tools and that's definately something I'm learning to avoid. A ryoba cuts faster and more accurately if you let the saw do the work and use a light touch when sawing. If I have to use more force then I know I've gone off line and I'm binding in the kerf.

    I've watched videos from various websites and when you watch a craftsman use a hand tool it's more like watching a doctor perform surgery than a mechanic fixing a car.
    daiku woodworking

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    I'm hoping to get my newly inherited planes sharpened and ready for use in the coming year. My grandpa told me stories of working 12 hour days and then spending another few hours sharpening his saws, chisels and planes at night. If he didn't he would be fired the next day for not coming to work ready.

    For turning tools, I use mostly Oland tools and a few spindle gouges. I sharpen them on a 6" grinder with I think a 100 grit wheel, but might be 80, and then straight to the lathe. I do sharpen much more than I use to and it makes a big difference. Somtimes I need to start with 80 grit paper to sand, but often I start with 120 or 150.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Schenectady, NY
    Quote Originally Posted by Toni Ciuraneta View Post

    Sorry guys if I bored you.
    Are you kidding-this is not boring, it's some of the best advice I have seen on any forum. Any hand tool work should not be a fight as you said. Carving, planing, sawing, turning are not white-knuckle activities. Thanks for the reminder to ease up and sharpen to make the job go better.

    I still have a long way to go with sharpening planes and chisels and saws, but I am doing better. I use oil stones in the lower grits and finish with water stones-for now anyway.

    Turning tools are kind of a different animal. They are commonly made from High Speed Steel in the M2 grade which does not lend itself to easy honing with common bench stones. I hone sometimes with a diamond slip, especially my skews, which also get stropped. Most of my turning tools go straight from the grinder to the wood. The reason is that a lot more wood is passing the cutting edge of a turning tool per second than with a plane or chisel. A finely honed edge on a turning tool will not last very long, but a fairly sharp edge of tough steel lasts pretty well. That is why we are supposed to touch up our gouges before that final pass. We all do that, Right ? It is rare indeed to get a truly finished surface right off the turning tool excepting maybe the skew. We most always need to sand, sometimes quite agressively to get to that finished surface. A sharp hand plane can give such a beautiful surface directly from the cutting edge that touching it with abrasives would ruin it.

    Another factor that affects the cut surface is the grain. In flat work like furniture, we try very hard to go with the grain whenever possible to avoid tearout. In turning, even though we work with the grain as much as possible, the grain is constantly reversing on every revolution in faceplate orientation. Sharp is extremely important to help reduce tearout here.

    Sharpening for many of us is an ongoing learning process that requires lots of practice. Once we get there, it becomes a process of keeping things sharp and developing good work habits to make this work less like work and more like fun.

    Thanks for the interesting post Rob !
    Don Orr

    Woodturners make the World go ROUND

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