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Thread: How long to hone?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
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    Question How long to hone?

    Yesterday I honed two plane irons, the one from my rabbett plane, and the one from my new block plane. I had honed the rabbett iron previously, but after using it to make a rabbett, decided it could use a little touch up. I put it in a guide thingy, and rubbed it on my 4000x waterstone for about 5 minutes, until I saw an actual wire edge form (very, very, small - but definite.) Then I rubbed off the wire edge like a good honer, and put the plane back together. I haven't tried it yet, but I am sure it is good.

    I started the block plane iron, which had probably never seen a sharpening stone before, on the 1000x waterstone, at 30. It quickly began to sharpen the very end of the bevel, then that progressed across about 2/3 of the bevel. At this point it appeared very sharp by the old Boy Scout test method, and caught my fingernail in just the way a sharp blade is supposed to, but I had been honing for about 20 minutes, and there was no wire edge. I finally went to the 4000x stone and polished the bevel until I could see my face in it, a little at a time. I put it back together, and again got wonderfully thin shavings, even without getting a wire edge. I didn't test it by shaving hair off my arms, as my keeper doesn't like the bald patches on my arm, or the blood, but I am convinced of the sharpness of this blade.

    So, should I always expect a wire edge, and how important is it to the sharpening process? I've been sharpening knives for years to razor sharpness, and usually only produced wire edges on low carbon-steel blades.

    TIA
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Tokyo Japan
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    Seems like a long time to me to be on the stones, unless I have a badly nicked blade, I touch up my plane blades in about a minute, I try really hard to not let them get very dull, or nicked.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Yes, but the block plane blade was pretty much BNIB, and had never been honed. So, agin, do you worry about getting a wire edge on the blade?
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    watch this

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Roger i think before you simply hone away for ever, the thing to get to grips with that was a wake up call for me is the issue of the fact that a good cutting edge on a chisel or plane blade is the result of the intersection of two straight lines. Now if one of those lines is expected to be a reference edge like for example the rear or back of a chisel or plane blade, then it follows that said line needs to be straight, implying that the rear of the chisel or plane blade needs to be flat. This is key. To me its the issue most fail to realise but take a look at all the super celeb woodworkers when they have a sharpening video or article and flattening the rear of these tools is the starting point. You cannot assume coming out the box that the tool blade will be flat.
    Then worry about the angled edge being at the angle you desire and then get to honing a bevel. The difference once this clicks in is day and night and you wont be focused on a wire edge because it will trully happen quicker than you can imagine if you have the basics correct.

    In my woodworking, it has been the single most englightening aspect i have learnt.

    Going at it on the stones without a few things being correct you could be there for a month of sundays and see your face in the mirror finish you achieve. All you achieving is to polish steel.

    There is also the issue of how flat you keep your stones to watch for. FOr this reason i have stuck to the scary sharp sandpaper method, i still use a guide jig from Lee Valley because i dont get to do the sharpening nearly often enough to develop the skill to do it without and i use a slab of granite to stick my sandpaper to which ensures my reference surface i am sharpening on, is always flat.

    Another "wake up call" to me was taking time to not carry over grit from one sandpaper grit grade to another when i execute the process. I now wipe my blade clean with a clean cloth frequently.

    BTW i am still very very much a absolute rookie. But i have witnessed the incredible difference between what i used to think was sharp and polished to what i now simply consider properly sharpened.

    If you want to do yourself a favor $6 bucks at Lee Valley gets a set of loupes, some will think this is going overboard. But it aided me in understanding and seeing the edge i was creating. Use these to be able to see what your edge looks like when you finished grinding then what it looks like when you done each stage of your sharpening process right up to final honing. You will be amazed to see what is going on at a level eyes cannot normally see.

    Hope this helps you.
    cheers

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    It's not the amount of time Roger. Usually I can get a very fine edge with several passes.
    I would respectfully disagree with Rob about flatness. For a chisel, yes 100%, but for a plane, you can use the ruler trick [google it if unfamiliar] to put a tiny back bevel on a plane iron and dramatically reduce your flattening effort. I'd forget about using the wire edge as a criterion for sharpening.

    The best advice I can give you is to seek someone who hones well, and ask him/her to show you how they do it.
    I agree with your keeper about the bald spots. The best test I know for sharpness is to cut across the end grain of soft wood. If you can raise a cohesive shaving and leave a smooth surface, you're good.
    Last edited by ken werner; 07-31-2012 at 03:17 PM.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  7. #7
    I don't know what you guys mean by wire edge. Do you just mean the burr that forms on the back of the blade after grinding the bevel?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by David Agnew View Post
    I don't know what you guys mean by wire edge. Do you just mean the burr that forms on the back of the blade after grinding the bevel?
    Yes, that burr.

  9. #9

    Sharp

    This is what is meant by sharp

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Spitting distance north of Detroit Michigan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Haugen View Post
    watch this
    Thanks Bruce, that was very informative just what this noob needed!
    The perception of perfection is perfectly clear to everyone else

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