Christmas is very near and sharpening looms high on the agenda for any hand tool enthusiast and real woodworking demands it. This would be a good time to state your needs and perhaps acquire your sharpening plate ready for the New Year and the woodworkingmasterclasses.com training. I have one of these EZE-Lap two sided plates for good measure and I do like them. I have a holder for mine that enables me to use it securely on the benchtop and to flip it over easily during uses. I find them very good for transporting when solid steel ones take too much weight off my luggage allowance and scream out at security barriers because of the mass off steel solids.
Using a home-made holder and a guide to sharpen a shorter spokeshave blade
This coming year I hope to spend more time teaching in mainland Europe and when I travel I always take one or two of these with me because, well, somehow I get through customs and security more easily with them. These plates work and work well and I like them where economy is an issue — economy of weight, cost, and space are often critical for me. In the US I have two duplicate sets of tools on a par with what I have here in the UK. In mainland Europe I have no such luxury. Oh, forget the poker dot things – more dots less diamonds for your money I think.
I am amazed at our friends following and supporting our efforts in mainland Europe. I think the small country of Belgium is the largest following per capita and this is quickly followed by the Netherlands next door. Not sure if it’s because my Great grandparents and grandparents are from that region or because I spent most of my holidays as a child there. Germany is massive too, but I love the fact that our efforts now so span the globe and that people love what we are doing to revitalise what has been so decimated by industry giants and some involved in media. Thankfully that seems to be over and we can get on with the real task of real woodworking.
If you follow my drift, that you can sharpen to any level and get good results with chisels, planes and spokeshaves, even at 250-grit, you will understand how a combo stone will get you over the hump of starting out with good stones for about £72 including shipping. Cheaper the US. Now I know that that’s a chunk of money enough to choke a donkey, but don’t get me wrong, this is not a second rate item in any way. They work, work well and will last you for several years of daily sharpening. In this image I am using 250-grit one side and 1200 the other. Might I suggest you go here with 400 and 1200 first. These will get finer the more you use them because of surface fracture. After a few months, go for a 150 and 250 combo.
Now remember this important fact. Once you have flattened the flat face of an iron or chisel, you most likely never (NEVER) need to touch it again. (This video for initial prep on chisels will help you I think.) (And this one for planes too.) It will stay flat and polished through general use. For some reason no one tells you that. Therefor you don’t really need dead-flat stones. Unlike the bevel, flattening the back is not an iterate task. Because flattening generally happens at the outset of tool preparation work when you first acquire the tool, and this is best done with abrasive paper on a certified granite block or plate glass, the only area we really need to focus on is the bevel and this is only because its the smaller of the two adjacent surfaces that form the cutting edge. If you are like me ,and others in Britain and the USA, and you have access to inexpensive Stanleys, you can sharpen them to different levels and enjoy the luxury of sharpening to task. That is, different levels of sharpness.
I was glad to see that Chronos is now a major distributor for EZE-Lap plates here in the UK. Their new website is programmed to this end and they have a full range of choices, so now it’s easier than ever to get what you need and customise your buying.