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Thread: Lets talk sharpening...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Los Angeles, CA

    Lets talk sharpening...

    So it is going to be soon that I will need to sharpen these new tools of mine. I have looked at purchasing Arkansas stones for my pocket knives and camp hatchet in the past, read about Japanese wet stones and have used diamond sharpeners and a grinder when I was younger doing some turning. As I no longer have access to a bench grinder and I never bought those Arkansas wet stones. I now find myself in the market for a sharpening method. What is your alls prefer method, brands, etc. of sharpening your carving tools?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV

    I'm not much good at sharpening, but I do like to collect things that make other things sharp. Can't wait to see how this goes.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Spyderco bench stone fine followed by a hard piece of leather with a little compound on it for flat tools (and most out canel gouges). MDF or maple shaped and hen loaded with compound for some gouges to be used as slips.

    The spyderco will likely also require a 200-400 grit diamond stone to flatten it, the 400 will take a while, the 200 will need you to use the spyderco for a bit afterwards to get it to settle back in as "fine". The one I got was pretty not-flat and that's apparently common. Don't press down to hard when doing this and use some water to clear the swarf or you'll wreck the diamond stone in a big hurry.

    Reasoning is that I can use the spydco completely dry so I don't need any oil or water at the bench. It will sharpen any kind of steel (although most carving tools are high carbon so the arkansas work fine as well). Its also a bit faster than an arkansas (not as fast as my japanese stones though). I can also get close to a mirror edge with it and still remove a fair bit of material if need be pretty fast so its a nice single stone.

    My japanese stones are really nice and fast (ok they're simply awesome), but the water is a bit of a hassle to deal with.

    I've gone through most of the other methods.
    • Sandpaper - it has its place for flattening large things but it never appealed to me all that much although lots of folks love it.
    • arkansas - yes they're nice and work well at least on most carving tools/high carbon steel, I still use them sometimes but the spyderco is faster and makes just as nice of an edge with less fuss. I could see maybe one translucent as a finish stone maybe.. I don't have a translucent - just a black (actually a soft, medium and black) but have looked at them some
    • japanese (specifically the sigma select II's although I've tried some other lesser stones as well) - super fast, puts on a great edge if you work through ~3 grits and I do use them when shaping a profile but the water mess makes them less desirable in my setup as day-to-day users. The sigma's are also a bit on the high dollar side for a complete set.
    • diamond stones - fine for shaping an edge, but imho it leaves the edge a bit ragged even at higher grits because the diamonds have really sharp edges so they tend to leave deeper grooves at a given grit. Honing on mdf or leather can remove most of that though.

    I haven't tried the diamond paste on cast iron (kaneban) or mdf although some folks say it works really well. You can get a lifetime supply of diamond paste in various grits on ebay for not all that much. It looks like a somewhat attractive method if you want a lot of grits to cleanup old or messed up tools.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    I should also add that after having gone through all of these its worth noting that pretty much all of them are mostly within the margin of error, especially when it comes to sharpening carving tools. Mostly you should be going to the honing compound on the MDF/Maple/leather and only occasionally back to the stone so the amount of stone time spent is mostly irrelevant as long as the stone isn't to coarse its fine.

    So pick one fairly fine stone (or a couple of fine grits of sandpaper like 6k and 15k automotive paper on glass) of some sort and stick with it until you learn to sharpen on it well enough.

    I was starting from scratch today I'd probably get one combo diamond stone (maybe an EZE-LAP DD8M/C - medium/coarse combo - or a couple of DMT stones perhaps D8X, and D8F) and the spyderco and a bar of honing compound (I've been using the green stuff from leevalley, although some folks claim its a bit coarse maybe). I don't think there's much you couldn't sharpen with that.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    I have a lot of tools I need to keep sharp if you have the money the Tormac with leather strops is the way to go. I'm on my 2nd stone in 10 years. It gets used.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
    I still have the Jet set up of Pauls for sale with tormek jugs its like new check the classifieds
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    For my carving gouges I use oil stones, either india or cristolon medium grit and traslucent hard Arkansas for the final honing. For my plane blades , chisels or any other flat blade type I have a set of shaptons that work great althouhg even with the coarse grit one it takes time to redo a bevel. One thing that I don't like about water stones is the mess that make and that they wear fast and even faster because one has to keep on flatenning them every now and then.

    Sharpening is something that I find very personal, some people love oil stones, other would swear for water ones, at the end I think it is a mix of technique and personal preferences.

    Also it will depend on what sort of blades do you have, some years ago I bought four different spokeshaves from Harris Tools, that their blades were made out of HSS and they were almost imposible to sharpen on water stones.
    Best regards,

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    SE Michigan
    I rarely use a stone of any kind on my carving tools. I do not do the big stuff with mallets and chisels just hand carving caricatures mostly . If the knife/gouge is sharp just using a strop from time to time when they feel like they are not cutting as easy as they should. I only use a stone or in my case sandpaper on flat surface to tune up the edge, usually from dropping on hard floor or chipped for some reason. You can do things on the cheap by doing the "Scary Sharp" method. Can find about it on Internet. But that method uses sandpaper of various grits in place of stones for the grinding. I have a Harbor Freight 1 x 30 inch belt sander with a leather belt for honing and have reversed the motor so the belt runs up instead of down.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    What Tony said is right on point, he knows. Arkansas stones will do whatever anyone wants for sharpening needs. But it cannot be denied that diamond 'stones' have a real place in your shop. Right now, Grizzly has a four sided set for about $20.00. You can't go wrong trying that. When I was carving I first sharpened then honed on leather with red rouge. You really do not understand what 'sharp' means until you try woodcarving.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    The leather honing belt sounds interesting, I do see a lot of carvers move to power honing, either wheels or a belt.

    One I liked the looks of in some ways was my Facebook friend Ingo's setup

    I've been thinking about a more portable treadle based version of that that would clamp into the bench.

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