Chisel Sharpening Setups

Woodworkers discuss jigs and equipment for sharpening chisels. May 13, 2009

Has anyone had any experience with this tool? I ran across it on another site and it seems to be an excellent way to sharpen and hone chisels and plane blades however would like to find out any personal experiences.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J
The critical question that occurs to me is, do you know how to sharpen blades well without such jigs? The question is important because if you don't already know how to sharpen then this tool will not will not help much. If you do know how then I'm doubtful that the tool will be worth the space it takes up and the time it requires to operate.

From the original questioner:
The basics of sharpening and practicing it are familiar to me and as a general rule - no problem. The area I have problems with are maintaining a square edge on wide (2 1/4") plane blades and also keeping the same bevel without making a series of micro bevels. I don't have a grinder so use a jig and water stone to reestablish the edge. The roller on the jig will create a hollow in the stone resulting in a convex edge. You probably should flatten the stone a couple of times during the process or else invest in a slow speed, 8" grinder.

From contributor J:
It hadn't occurred to me that you might be trying to work without a grinder. I do subscribe to the hollow-grinding school of sharpening, and rarely mess with microbevels. I hollow-grind to whatever angle I wish, and use that grind to register the blade on the stone, doing everything freehand. That said, I rarely sharpen plane irons quite that wide. My #6 Bailey (2 3/8" iron) doesn't get much use, so the widest iron I deal with regularly is a 1 3/4" Hock iron. I know some people recommend against hollow-ground bevels, but it's an argument I simply don't buy into.

My low-speed grinder is an old Dunlap arbor, belt-driven by an ancient 1/6th HP motor with a cone pulley that allows me three different speeds. I picked up the arbor and motor at a flea market for $10 several years ago. The stone is a 5" by 2" 120 grit white aluminum oxide stone intended for the Delta Sharpening Centers that were popular a few years ago. The wide stone wears more slowly and is easier to use. The smallish diameter (5") means that the hollow grind is a tad deeper and so doesn't have to be reground as often.

I think the promotional video for that sharpening box glosses over the difficulty of adjusting the position of the iron, especially the side-to-side angle of the blade as it relates to the surface on which the stone is supposed to ride. I'm also doubtful about how well that plastic top surface (even UHMW) would hold up to constant abrasion.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J, you echoed my concerns with the box also, especially wear on the surface. I too have an ancient grinder and have thought about getting a shaft and a three step pulley to lower the rpm's and then make my own tool rests to do the work. I'm on the fence about the micro bevels having done it both ways. I use a #4 Lie-Nielson smoother for my final finish and although it came without a micro bevel seems as if I'm developing one on it anyway! I emailed a question to Gary Blum regarding the wear factor of the plastic top and have yet to hear back from him. I'm considering a Hock blade for my #7 -- are you pleased with yours and did you also get his chip breaker?

From contributor J:
I'm happy with my Hock irons, but they're all mounted in wood-body planes rather than iron ones. I visited Ron Hock's shop when I was in school (about ten years ago) when the aftermarket irons for Bailey planes were a relatively new product. The ones I handled seemed very nice - not only hard, but the backs were already surface-ground nice and flat so that lapping them would be relatively painless. I didn't get a good look at the chip breakers.

From contributor R:
I agree with contributor J, a hollow grind is the way to go. I prefer a 6" wheel. Take the time to master freehand sharpening. My stones are a few steps away from my bench and touching up a tool while working is very quick- spend your time woodworking not fiddling with jigs. If you buy a grinder get a good one, I have a 7" Baldor which works very well but after removing or modifying most of the guards so I could actually use the damn thing and replacing the stock rests with the Oneway rests. In retrospect I would have been better off having an arbor and flanges fabricated, mounted in pillar blocks with the Oneway rests and coupled to an AC motor via step pulley or better yet an Inverter drive. A good method for grinding a plane iron straight is to stand the iron straight up on a hard stone or a sheet of wet or dry paper on a granite plate. A few figure eight passes will cut a tiny flat or land (keep it small) at the cutting edge, and it will also be dead straight. It is then an easy matter to freehand grind back to the newly established edge. I donít like grinding jigs either. A good set of three Arkansas stones is also a good way to develop your technique as they are more forgiving than the softer waterstones if you lift the tool while honing. A soft or Washita, Hard White and a black surgical finished with a leather strop will give you an excellent edge.