Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sharp Edge

Hi Folks
Well there goes another weekend! I've not achieved much in the workshop though I have been busy elsewhere. A busy day Saturday replacing some fencing for a friend left me tired and today was spent at Marwell Zoo with the family. So needless to say workshop time has been minimal!
I did spend some time sharpening a few planes. When I'm too tired to do something constructive (without messing it up!!!!) I go for the old fall-back, sharpening.
It never fails to amaze me the difference a freshly sharpened iron makes. Effortless planing, a tear-out free polished surface and a smile on my face. And it really takes so little time. You just have to DO IT ;)
Incidently, I've tried cheating a bit recently. Yes, the "quick hone-up"......
Instead of going through the grits (for me 800, 4000, 10,000) I just try the fine stone or a rub on the strop. It kinda works but doesn't. All you get is an edge that cuts nicely on 90% of its length but has nicks and chips on the remainder. So whats the point? Quite.....
I have a theory that you need to go back to a coarse stone when honing due to the edge becoming "work hardened". This makes it brittle. So if you try to touch it up a few times instead of grinding back to fresh metal you get an edge like I described earlier. Chippy.
I counted out the strokes I take whilst sharpening (as some people feel my prefered method of sharpening, waterstones, is messy and time consuming) Take out coarse stone from water container, rub on flattening plate. 30 seconds. Set iron in jig (Veritas MK2). 30 seconds. Twelve strokes on the 800 stones. Wipe with rag, twelve strokes on the 4000 stones, wipe with rag, twelve strokes on the 10,000 stone. Remove from jig, wipe with oily rag, replace in plane.
Less than three minutes to hone a plane iron to a razor edge (tested on any remaining hand/arm hair I can find!) And sharp enough to leave a perfect, flawless surface that is ready for finishing.
Well worth keeping those tools sharp!

1 comment:

Tony said...

Absolutely! I used to keep finding that I work my way through the bench planes as each stops cutting. Then, sharpen the lot in one long, boring session. Sometimes upon picking one up to find it didn't cut I'd think 'rubbish plane that one' when all it needed was 3 minutes on the stones.
The myth that waterstones take ages to use and are messy never fails to amaze me. I keep a piece of wet and dry on a flat surface next to the ice cream tub of water and flattening before use takes seconds.
These days, I do as you describe and am happy every time I pick up a plane.
Sharpen them often!