Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Adventure in Sharpening

Chop, chop, shave. A nice sunny day with the garage door open. I was cleaning up mortises for the Slat Clock that I'm making.

Chop, chop, chop. I love summer.

Wait. It's still spring. Well, I must say it sure felt like summer. T-shirt and no jacket. The days are coming when my golfing habit will war with my woodworking hobby. I delight in both activities. Shrug.

Chop, chop, nibble. I need a new golf bag. The rain cover tore last year and well, it was a cheapo anyway and my club collection is now a tight fit.

Nibble, chop, nibble. The warm breeze drifting lazily over me drying the sweat on my brow and keeping me cool.

Chop, nibble, tear ... Tear?

Looking into the mortise, I was cleaning up, I had been working on the end wall and some of the fibres had compressed and instead of the chisel neatly shearing them, it dug in and pulled. The fibres gave way at a weaker point within the board. I had been sweating because of dull chisels. Groan.

I groan, because the last time I tried to sharpen my 1/4" chisel, it ended up out of square. I used the Scary Sharp method and was discouraged by the results. The workpiece is actually salvageable as the tear happened partway down the mortise and is the end grain portion which isn't critical for gluing.

It also takes a lot of time and I would prefer to maximize my shop time building things rather than maintaining the tools. Granted, tool maintenance is a fact of the wood worker's life, but if there's a quicker way to get back to the project, I'm all for it!

So, it was off to the computer to do a little research. After much surfing and deliberation, I decided to pick up a Work Sharp 2000 from my local Busy Bee retailer as it was on sale. It was also the best fit for my budget.

I received it this week as it was on back order. Setting it up was pretty easy and I decided to practise first on a couple of old chisels that I had bought through Craig's List for about $5 (for 4 of them total).

I'm not going to do a full review of the Worksharp2000 here, I'll do that on Lumberjocks adding my opinion to others who have also bought it. However, I will say that it can be a great tool for honing the back and general light duty grinding. For polishing the bevel, it's my opinion that there are not enough different grits for the slotted wheel to give the bevel a proper grind and polish as you can see from the below picture. Notice the curved grind marks.

A preliminary attempt at honing the back yielded much better results as you could see what you were doing despite using non-slotted discs (from the top side rather than the tool guide). You can actually see the bottom of the lumber rack in the reflection. I know, it's not all the way there yet, but well on its way.

The long and short of it is that I'll use the Worksharp2000 for rough grinding of the bevel and for honing the back of my chisels and plane irons. I'll stick to the scary sharp method for fine tuning my bevel and now that my 4 knock abouts are square and cleaned up, I can practise using them instead of my Lee Valley chisels. It will still get me back to my project quicker than the manual method. At least next time it will.
Do you have any shop maintenance tricks that get you back to your work quicker? Leave me a comment with your tips.

Scary Sharp Method Links

1 comment:

  1. ONce your plane irons and chisels are sharp, keep them that way by stroping them often using an Eclispe (side clamp) type of honing jig and a piece of hardwood charged with fine diamond paste.

    Think of it this way: A barber doesn't shave his customers with a dull razor, but rather stropes his razor to keep the edge honed.


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