Keeping tools sharp is one of the pinnacle skills in almost all woodworking pursuits. Simply put, tool edge sharpness makes working wood easier and more accurate. This video segment reveals the process used by many woodworkers to accurately hone plane and chisel blades to a razor edge. I’ll take you step-by-step through the process including; how to hold a plane blade for maximum control and effectiveness, how to flatten the back of the tool edge, how to hone a micro-bevel, and how to work through different grades of Japanese Waterstones. With just a little practice, you can master the art. (11 Minute Video)
I know that for every woodworker there’s another way of sharpening… still, there are certain accepted procedures worth noting. For example, using a nagura stone with the polishing stone – the slurry is a very important element for that stone. I don’t mind sharpening w/out a honing guide but when doing so forget referencing specific angles. I defy anyone to show me what 25 degree is without a protractor. I cringe when someone, after sharpening a tool, test the blade on fingernails, hair on the arm – any body part. After using three or four stones to get an edge the tools should be ready to go – testing is unnecessary.
Keith’s Note: Thanks Bill for pointing out the absence of the nagura stone “on screen”. Yes, it should and was used but missed the edit. And angles, angles – as Craig Vandall Stevens says regarding his approach, the degree angle is only an approximation, knowing why a steeper or shallower angle is chosen is the key, which is a whole other fascinating subject. And as you point out, it is wise to be cautious with any sharp object around one’s body — Agreed :-)
[…] made the plane blade before sharpening it that I felt this link had to be included! How To Hand Sharpen Blades Using Waterstones – this site has a great video of the sharpening process – very well filmed, and detailed […]
Fantastic, I enjoyed very much. Thank You.
Great site and great video clips. Starting out on the woodworking journey with my son and puzzling the many issues. So straightforward guides to sharpening and planes have really helped. Thanks. Doug.
Cheers for that. I have been trying to get my blade as sharp as I can. Looks like I need a few more stones. Great site. Found it by accident.
Hello. I would first like to thank you for the great information that is portrayed in the videos. I have watched your’s and Craig Vandall Steven’s videos on how to sharpen chisels and irons. I went through all the steps, from flattening the back to stepping through 4 stones ending at 8000 grit. The chisel was razor sharp. I grabbed a scrap piece of tigerwood that I am using for a project, set the chisel on the edge tapped a few times with mallet and then inspected the edge of the chisel and to my surprise, the edge of the metal was folding over. Is there something that I could have done wrong or are my set of chisels of poor quality. Any information from you or from Craig Vandall Stevens would be a blessing. Thank you again for the videos.
Keith’s Note: Great question! Here are a few reasons that chisel edges fail:
1. First, the quality of your chisel may indeed be low. If the metal used by the maker is inferior, it could be either too soft, or too brittle. In your case, the edge has deformed and curled, which might indicate that the metal is too soft.
2. The second possibility is that the angle that you sharpened the chisel is too steep. Generally, make sure you sharpen your edges to approximately 25 degrees. If you sharpen a blade too thin, you can end up with an edge that is brittle and may need more frequent sharpening. I don’t believe that this is the issue, because if you had sharpened the edge to such a thin angle it is more likely that the edge would break off – not bend as you describe. Most high quality chisels are made of “tool steel”, a metal that is more likely crack or break, not bend.
3. The third possibility is that the wood you are working with is very hard. But once again, a very hard wood will tend to chip the edge of the chisel, not bend it.
So what to do? I’d borrow or purchase a high-quality chisel and see if you have a similar problem working the same wood. Good luck.
In England we use oil-stones and it doesn’t matter if the stone is slightly hollow as it will automatically slightly shape the edge to stop it digging in at the corners.
Keith’s Note: Ken, you make a good case for your approach.