Try Something for Me

When I sharpen a plane I have a standard I work to. It’s almost always surgical sharpness. Why? I’m not always sure. But I’m sure that most of us ultimately end up with a system and an order to sharpening. Ultimately we should all steer away from abrasive papers and silly names like the scary sharp method because craftsmen of old always sharpened their edge tools to surgical sharpness anyway. Or did they? What replaced the ordinary practicalities of everyday sharpening is a fascination for something that fascinated us away from the literal essentiality of working for a living. Not many craftsmen of old, and I include myself in this, had the luxury of gluing abrasive to sheets of plate glass or half an hour to sharpen and set a plane. It didn’t happen. All the woodworkers I worked under took a dull plane to surgical sharpness in under a minute and were back to planing wood in under two. It was an ordinary and simple task and, yes, it was surgical sharpness without the fuss.

My teaching trains people to go through three stages on abrasive stones and then onto a finer grade using buffing compounds on a strop. It works. 250, 600 and 1,200 on stones, or thereabouts, not rigid, and then any steel buffing compound, around 10,000. This protocol gives you a surgically sharp edge. But the carpenters on job sites I have met usually grab the belt sander with 250 grit belts installed and flash the plane iron across the running belt at around 30 degrees. They are back in the planing mode in a few seconds and for the bottom of a door or the sticking stile of same it gets the job done and it’s common practice. In my classes students in training take great pains to get the perfect result. Instead of my one-minute dull to surgical sharpness they often spend 30 minutes and they do so because they can. For me, sharpening is such an essentiality I would not work wood if I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. I’m not a perfectionist and can’t stand self claimed claims people have of being a perfectionist. As long as we work diligently to achieve good work it is good enough for me.

The job-site demands are generally different to bench work. Mostly the work needs to be finer. Not always though. I’ve known trim carpenters who work to high and tight tolerances in high end work. You see sharpness is key to ease of cut, accuracy and fineness. It is the most undervalued and least understood in the realms of craftsmanship. Most of the woodworkers I have known and taught have usually, not always, just mostly, shown reluctance to stopping and interrupting the work to go to the sharpening stones. In many cases they simply are intimidated by the process, but then too the reluctance is because they want to keep going as long as they can on the blade sharpness level they are at. The fact is sharpening has to be as much if not more of the planing, sawing, chiselling, spokeshaving, axing processes as the engaging of the tool cutting the wood itself. Though the task of sharpening is very different to the application of the tool to the material, it’s important to slide from planing to sharpening and back to planing as seamlessly as possible each time you sharpen: And it is possible to get to a place where you don’t even notice you’re doing it!

There are levels of sharpness that I use. In my videos, if you see me sharpening up, you see me go through my recommended four levels in quick succession. Three stones and a strop charged with abrasive compound is fast and effective. In under a minute I have my plane or chisel sharpened. A saw takes me four to six minutes and I never put sharpening off no matter the rush – it just does not pay. But I don’t always sharpen my edge tools to the 10,000 or more level. It depends on the work in hand. For instance, though a scrub plane might be engaged in scrubbing off large amounts to get down through the grain, sometimes I might not go to another level because it’s unnecessary. Using the scrub to bevel corners in an instant, or planing a narrow edge where the edge is not needed to be united to another as i gluing up. At my bench you will generally only three favoured planes I reach for in a given day. I have the scrub plane, the jack #5 and the smoother #4. Tucked away but still close to hand I have a #5 1/2 and a #4 1/2. Behind me I have a couple of extras of each and then a couple of Veritas bevel-ups.

So here I would like to ask you to simply try something out for me, just to see what you feel, so you understand. Sharpen your smoothing plane to 250 or thereabouts. Use it to plane say oak and pine. Take a few swipes, set to deep and shallow cuts. Run your fingertips over the surfaces to see how the surfaces feel to you. Register your feelings in your memory bank. then take the iron out and take it to the 600 level and try again. Now to the 1,200 level. Doing this is sensory. You will register feeling and learn how such feeling works as you work your wood. From this you can evaluate exactly what level of sharpness you need for the tools you need to sharpen. I often find that 250-grit sharpening seems to engage the wood or some kinds of wood better than going up to the 10,000.

49 Comments

  1. Steven on 23 May 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Paul, you have written about this many times before and I agree and I love to have the reinforcement about the importance of sharp tools. I do find the bit about the perfectionist interesting because I think different folks have different reasons for woodworking. Some are trying to construct something and that is the end goal and they could care less about the means to the end, whereas some love the process and don’t mind fiddling around with tools all day, having constructed nothing at the end of it. I go back and forth, I like both, which is probably why I like learning from you! Thanks for what you do.

  2. Mike Davis on 23 May 2019 at 9:21 pm

    This is the most sensible thing I have read on this subject and exactly the way I work. I try to teach my students the same as well. Too many are obsessed with 50,000 grit nirvana instead of getting right back to work with a razor edge quickly and efficiently.

  3. Craig Medvecky on 23 May 2019 at 9:22 pm

    I have a sharpening question that has been nagging me. I have been practicing Paul’s method. I have made the sharpening station pictured above, and I have the 4 stages in my process, as Paul describes them. I have never sharpened by any other method, as I was new to woodworking prior to taking Paul’s classes.

    My problem is this: I get the edge pretty darn sharp. I don’t know if it is surgical, but I do know after I’m done it isn’t square anymore. It seems that the narrower the width of the blode the more out of square I take it. A 1/4” chisel for instance ends up at about 85 degrees. I dont know why this is happening. I guess it is some sort of uneven pressure, but Paul has never really discussed it to my knowledge, and I need to know why it is happening and how to correct it, because it frustrates me to have a chisel edge that isn’t square. Thank you.

    • Tom Angle on 24 May 2019 at 12:38 am

      I find you need to really concentrate putting even pressure across the iron/chisel. Uneven pressure is what causes it. The narrower the chisel, the more you really have to focus.

    • Victor on 24 May 2019 at 4:28 am

      Have had the same problem, primarily because my left hand presses harder, since it’s not doing a double task (push and press) like the right one.

      My answer, not yet perfect, but improved, is along the lines of what Mr. Sellers has been advising: just go in your workshop and do it. Practice, experiment with how to even the pressure, and you’ll see improvement. If you can’t work out the pressure trick, then slide the blade diagonally – this removes some of the angle.

      Also, there’s no shame in using a guide to bring your blade back to square.

    • Paul Sellers on 24 May 2019 at 6:28 am

      Craig, I have yet to meet anyone who does not have this issue and especially starting out. There are many influences that cause the unevenness not the least of which for beginners is that there is no other task practiced in the day to day requiring the action of sharpening or indeed paralleling the motion. Your body weight affects the action as does the upper bodyweight of the shoulders and arms in men. It’s simply a question of stopping every five to ten strokes on the coarse stone and looking to see how near to square you are. Your dominant arm usually adds confidence with that side and you press more confidently with the gripping right hand for right hand dominants than the fingertips of your left. Ease up and practice self control. Especially is this so on the narrow chisels.

    • Derek Long on 24 May 2019 at 11:59 pm

      Hey Craig,

      It’s mostly a matter of uneven pressure. Doesn’t really hurt anything, just concentrate on putting more pressure on the other side the next few times you sharpen up. It will even out again over time. About once a year I pull out my most-used chisels and put them in a guide and true them up so they don’t go too wobbly on me over time.

    • Neil Christie on 25 May 2019 at 12:46 am

      I know the problem. I find honing guides useless on narrow chisels as they won’t hold the chisel square.
      I have often found this problem on second hand chisels which have been overheated on a grinder , softening the steel on one side.
      I think practice is the only answer.
      We change bevel angles to task so why not choose grit levels to task? Interesting idea.
      I am thinking now that a honing guide at the side of the stone, like Paul’s morticing guide may work. Something to butt the side of the chisel to in order to keep it upright?

    • Terrence OBrien on 25 May 2019 at 3:21 am

      I had the exact same situation. Hold the blade up to the light every ten seconds while sharpening. Just be aware of the angle forming. Then let your body figure it out. Your body can figure out all kinds of complex movements, but it needs the feedback of looking.

      • Paul Sellers on 25 May 2019 at 1:07 pm

        I would prefer to just sharpen and see how you are after the first level of 250. Then remove the burr as that will perhaps show a worse condition. Then check the condition.

    • Yohann on 25 May 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Yep, I had this problem too…..and I still do (to some extent).

      What worked for me was focusing on:

      A) Body position. Instead of standing with the hone mostly centered on my body, I placed it in line with my dominant shoulder and I pay more attention to how my arm moves back and forth.

      B) Even pressure with the off-hand. I focus on making sure the pressure applied at the tip with my off-hand is even and complements the pressure being applied forward with my dominant hand.

      It’s hard to explain, but the main takeaway is that this is an issue with narrow chisels. There’s just not enough bevel to give adequate feedback on whether or not it’s registered properly. Trial and error worked for me, and maybe it will work for you too.

    • Shane on 27 May 2019 at 8:50 pm

      When I was an apprentice carpenter 48 years ago we were taught to sharpen in a figure eight pattern for plane irons and chisels. We reversed direction every six or so times around. Figure eight patterns seem awkward at first and require a slower approach when beginning. We were encouraged to check square with a combination square throughout the process. I guess this must’ve evened the pressure out somewhat and encouraged concentration as I’ve never had a major problem with uneven sharpening. Hope this helps.

    • Julia on 27 May 2019 at 11:22 pm

      I had the same problem until I realised that the floor sloped by a mere fraction. As a result, the workbench was standing on a barely perceptible slope. Consequently, the diamond plate was also sloping, and the edges of my blades mirrored that fractional slope. I solved it by using a spirit level to set up a sharpening station. In addition, when using stones other than diamond plates, you need to check the flatness of the stone with a spirit level before you begin. It won’t resolve problems caused by using unequal pressure, but making sure your workstation is absolutely level will be a miracle cure for some.

  4. Ben Tyreman on 23 May 2019 at 9:54 pm

    more time spent actually making is always a good thing!

  5. Misha on 23 May 2019 at 10:26 pm

    The narrower the chisel the more difficult it gets to keep it square when you sharpen. Personally at first I used a sharpening guide, but it not only took more time but also the cutting edge was still not perfectly 90 degree. With practice I trained myself to apply the right pressure to the necessary side of the chisel, and now I get quite a good result using freehand method.
    And one more point: in my opinion the narrower the chisel the less square it can be.

  6. Doug on 24 May 2019 at 3:03 am

    Hi Craig,

    I too have some problems with sharpening. My trouble is with a Stanley #4 plane. I have the plane blade slightly out of square also. I think I am about 1/16 of an inch out.

    I have found that I just have to take the sharpening process a bit slower until I have the muscle memory and the senses to feel the right pressure.

    I am usually going along but I can start to feel the plane getting dull. It’s then that I have to switch off the part of my brain that says hurry up and get back to planing.

    It’s then that I just make myself slow down and focus on Paul’s method of sharpening. Like most of us, I can only do woodworking on the evening and the weekends. I want to achieve the speed of Paul but I do have to take the basic steps and just concentrate on the sharpening.

    I know it’s a mental game but it will come with practice. I still use a sharpening guide until I feel that I am confident to do it free hand. I have cut a piece at 30 degrees so I that I can concentrate on getting the feel of 30 degrees and then I focus on the pressure. I know that this seems pretty basic but it works.

    Try it out and see if it helps. I know that it did for me as I am carefully taking the skew out of the blade.

    • Simon on 29 May 2019 at 12:33 pm

      I was going out of square too until I realised I was spending too long on each stage and pressing too hard. Light, even pressure and only sharpening long enough to get a full width burr fixed this.

  7. Michael Geiger on 24 May 2019 at 7:04 am

    Question: I use an old oil stone that’s dished along the length (as Mr Sellers has said, this is no issue) but also slightly along the width. This means that my chisels and plane irons end up cambered across the width like a scrub plane, only less (maybe 1mm on a plane iron).
    Is this a big problem and should I try flatten it, ir can I just leave it.
    I’ve been sharpening narrower chisels on the edge of the stone to try even it out but I’m new to this so I haven’t had a chance to even it by this method.
    Pardon if this is a silly question.

    • Alan on 24 May 2019 at 9:19 am

      “perfect is the mortal enemy of good enough” – anon

    • Evan on 28 May 2019 at 8:09 pm

      I would try and flatten the stone. That is just kind of part and parcel for using natural stones. That dishing will just get worse of time, so the sooner iti s fixed the easier. Does not have to be prefect, but you probably want to get so it is no so obivious

  8. Steve on 24 May 2019 at 10:32 am

    I suppose a lot depends on the grain structure of whatever you’re planing. I tried this once at 250 on a piece of straight grained oak and it was just fine. Noticed some ease at 1200 but the big factor seemed to be lubricating the base of the plane which vastly improved everything. Nonetheless I will continue going to 10000.

  9. Gav on 24 May 2019 at 1:29 pm

    I have used a belt sander on site to hog down the plane iron if I hit an old fastening or a bit of embedded stone/grit/ sand etc and it would take too long to sharpen on a stone. Pretty much always finish it with a stoning and a strop though. Much of my work is with old jarrah , sometimes karri unless I get to trim old joinery made from imported pines. The pines, unless covered in paint are somewhat more forgiving to an edge not quite as sharp than the native hardwoods. The best plane to avoid some of this is the electric with tungsten blades and if they get chipped beyond use swap them out. I like to finish with a hand plane though .

  10. Steve McGonigle on 24 May 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Last Wednesday I used an old wooden smoothing (coffin type) plane to dress over a dozen old whiskey barrel staves. The oak was wonderfully hard and seasoned. Rough finished and goodness only knows how old it was a proper upper body workout as Paul often remarks. My old plane is the type which has a handle at the back, thereby giving it greater ‘handiness’ if there is such a word. I’ve sharpened the blade to a slight curve and it is my regular scrub plane. Throughout the evening, I sharpened the blade twice, 30 seconds or so on a diamond stone and similar on a strop. I can well attest to the efficiency of these old tools, the quality of the steel and the fact that it only takes moments to reassemble and reset them before continuing. The sense of fulfilment when these old tools work so well is difficult to quantify. The resulting pile of shavings was a reward in itself. Once, I’d have used a sander, resulting in noise, dust and power costs. Everything about using a sharp plane is exquisite, from the sensation of the tool cutting so cleanly to the glorious swishing sound such a plane makes. The wooden sole of the plane simply glided over the oak staves. More and more I’m coming to appreciate the joy (& it really is a joy) of using a hundred year old plane, bought for around £10, which is sharp and simply does what it’s maker originally intended. Thank you Paul for your tutorials on sharpening, they have proven a true boon for my work.

  11. J D Fidler on 24 May 2019 at 2:41 pm

    I have found that in most cases if I stop planing early enough I can get right back to sharp with just stropping a plane iron/chisel. I keep a strop screwed to the top of my workbench on the far right side. A quick step over and a few strokes on the strop and I’m back to work.

    • Paul Sellers on 24 May 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Not good self discipline though. Ultimately you gain nothing by procrastinating the other other levels.

      • Tn on 27 May 2019 at 5:19 pm

        Idk, many carvers simply strop (frequently). I have heard of rolled over cutting edges from stropping only but unsure if its a reality as I’ve never committed to it. But a strop is abrasive just as anything else. I suppose its the easy way out though and only will work if you stay religious about it

  12. Eric Uglem on 24 May 2019 at 3:52 pm

    You used the term ” surgically sharp ” which is equally silly as you put it. Unless you plan on doing surgery with your chisels and plane blades then I think this term is inappropriate for woodworking.

    • Paul Sellers on 24 May 2019 at 5:10 pm

      I don’t really think anyone is actually saying surgically sharp so much as extremely sharp in a situation where there is no practical measure of sharpness, that’s all. Surgically sharp stays.

      • Allen Schell on 27 May 2019 at 1:47 pm

        Is the time honored test of slicing through a piece of paper sufficient?

    • Evan on 28 May 2019 at 8:13 pm

      “surgically sharp” is about 250 grit. Your average scalpel has surprisingly rough and unfinished edge. Most woodworkers go way past what is sharp enough for surgery.

  13. Robin on 24 May 2019 at 5:11 pm

    @Eric

    The noun “surgeon” comes from the greek “χειρουργός” – derived from “χείρ” (kheír) meaning “hand” and ἔργον (érgon) meaning “work”.

    Sounds perfectly appropriate to me.

  14. Wayne ‘Bower on 25 May 2019 at 12:22 am

    Paul, the guys at Heritage taught me your method when I resumed using hand tools after a 50+ year sabbatical.

    It’s so simple, quick and predictable that I just do all four steps and get back to work. The required time is so short that I honestly think most of the sharpening interval used for loosening and realigning the blade and breaker. Truth be known, I often skip the thumbnail test because I can see it’s gonna be sharp. And so far I’ve never been disappointed.

  15. Yohann on 25 May 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Paul – When I started woodworking with hand tools, I had already amassed a large group of hones. This is because I use them to hone my straight razor collection. Yes, I use straight razors all the time as I find them to be excellent shaving implements.

    When I’m sharpening a straight razor some of the principles are the same as for chisels and plane irons – I want to get two metal surfaces to meet in one straight line. However, since this edge is going to be placed on my face, I also focus on smoothness in addition to sharpness. As you might imagine, some people in the straight razor world are as obsessive about grit and honing progression as some in the woodworking world.

    I am more about practicality. I looked through my hones and chose some of them to use on my chisels and plane irons. Others were not appropriate for tools, as they would wear quickly and they were expensive. Also they really would not provide any lasting advantage. I use my diamond plates up to 1200 grit and then finish off on a Black Arkansas hone before moving to a pasted strop. Seems to work for me. It takes little time and the results are good.

  16. STeve on 26 May 2019 at 1:00 am

    I recently watched a video of a guy sitting on the ground, looked like a rainforest country. He was making shoes out of car tires. He would keep sharpening his homemade looking knife to surgical sharpness every few minutes on a severely dished out oil stone. He was cutting through car tires like they were butter, making shoes for people in his village. I was impressed but at the same time made me feel bad about my sharpening skills even with the latest stones. I tried 250 on my #4, the curly maple did not like it at all. Massive chunks out. 600 seemed ok for pine, curly maple still didn’t like anything until I stropped.

  17. Alex on 26 May 2019 at 2:26 am

    I fell into the ‘waterstone trap’ before finding Paul’s blog, flattening stone and all. So now I’m not wanting to buy diamond stones (extra money spent on those and the money for the water stone thrown out the window). I have the honing guide too obviously… It took forever to get the plane irons and chisels into the guide and I still couldn’t always get a properly sharp edge on them on the first try sometimes.

    Since finding Paul’s blog I’ve switched to hand sharpening. It’s so relieving to know that I don’t actually have to get the angle right and the method self-adjusts so that you get a sharp edge (unless you really overdo the angle not-finding :)). If there’s a bad nick or I’ve been dumb for too long I have to use some sandpaper but it doesn’t happen often, so I think I’ll just wear the whole stone down until I get the diamond stones. The stone is a 1000/6000 King water stone and I usually don’t even bother to strop but I currently work mostly pine (the maple I have used works fine too). Gotta try the red oak after reading this post I suppose.

  18. Sylvain on 26 May 2019 at 9:48 am

    1) For narrow chisel, I found that holding them like a writing pen while sharpening was working better to keep the edge square.
    Now I am sometimes surprised by how some people hold their pen so YMMV.

    2) I have two double face diamond stone. I usually use only the sides coarse and fine + strop. Working with pine, I am not convinced I need to use the extra fine side (except for polishing the back).
    Sylvain

  19. Bob Easton on 26 May 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I’m not so sure that many people tried what you asked. It seems the conversation went astray with the need for squareness Your post wasn’t about squareness.

    Instead, I think you were asking us to try three different sharpening levels and to actually FEEL the results of using tools sharpened to those levels. Yes, 250 is sharp enough to successfully plane some woods, but not to a very smooth level of finish. I much prefer 600 for the bulk of my woodworking activity, and 1200 for final finishing. These 3 levels produce distinctly different surfaces and I believe that is what you were wanting us to learn.

    Along the way, one also learns to FEEL when that edge sharpened to 600 is deteriorating and needs a quick freshening.

    I started hand woodworking over a dozen years ago and began sharpening with “scary sharp,” spending hours and hours getting to what I thought was sharp. Over time, I migrated to Arkansas stones and have never turned back. And no-thank-you, I don’t care for slurpy wet sharpening, nor for diamonds either. I currently use two Arkansas stones and a strop. Sharpening a plane iron rarely takes more than 2-3 minutes, sometimes much less. AND I have found that squareness is very highly overrated. How one handles the tools is far more important than edges being square.

    In the more recent years, I have moved from general woodworking to woodcarving and now have a collection of (don’t tell the accountant) quite a few dozen carving gouges. Of course, each of them needs to be kept sharp. Upon FEELing cuts become rougher, I use the same 2 stones + strop and can usually bring a gouge back to the level I like in less than a minute.

    I believe the whole point of your post was for us to FEEL the several levels of acceptable sharpness, and to know when to go refresh the edges. It took a while to grasp that some years ago, but once learned sharpening has become a complete non-issue, a simple part of the rhythm of woodworking or woodcarving.

  20. Steve on 27 May 2019 at 12:49 am

    A very logical and sensible approach.

  21. Ed Minch on 27 May 2019 at 11:23 am

    I was a very early (1997) member of what is still one of the best tool forums around. One of the founders was a very clever, smart, funny, and interesting man named Steve Lamantia, and he is the guy who put the name “scary sharp” to the sanpaper-on-glass method. He was under no illusion that it was new or better, just very convenient. He wet the back of the paper with a sprayer and stuck it to glass, rather than glued it down, and this encouraged changing the paper often. I have used this method since then with great success, and can bring an edge back in under a minute for sure.

    Here is an archive entry from 1996, just after Steve “introduced” his method with great humor and fanfare and the discussions started to fly:

    https://swingleydev.com/ot/get/6156/single/

    He is saying the exact same thing that Paul is saying – fast and effective, but not better or worse, just convenient for some.

    It has been interesting over the years to see what has happened to the term “scary sharp” – meant to be humorous now dead serious, or completely misunderstood. There have even been 2 Fine Woodworking article on it that I am aware of.

    I had a Canadian Windsor chair instructor in the early 00’s who kept 220 grit aluminum oxide paper on a flat wooden stick and would touch up his spokeshaves, travishers, drawknives, scorps, adzes, chisels and planes with it, and that was perfectly adequate for the wet and dry oak, and basswood and pine he used in chair building.

    Keep smiling – and keep it sharp

  22. Ed Minch on 27 May 2019 at 11:34 am

    And I forgot to mention, whenever you use the term scary sharp, you are supposed to put the ™ at the end thusly:

    Scary Sharp ™

  23. bob mielke on 27 May 2019 at 11:40 am

    I watch a number of craftsmen on Youtube. I lean toward those who prefer hand tools to power tools although there’s a place in my world for both.

    One of the most meticulous online woodworkers is Rob Cosman. He will spend an eternity getting each joint perfect. In the process the clock is ticking and a great deal of time passes as he satisfies his standard of perfection. Admittedly I am not willing to dedicate that much time to elevate my standard.

    Others go at it with an axe and stone mallet, preferring to fix mistakes after the joints are together. I’m somewhere in between.

  24. Bill on 27 May 2019 at 12:37 pm

    I have been practicing sharpening since coming back to serious woodworking after 60 years, having last done it at school. My collection of planes and chisels are slowly becoming sharper and I was delighted to be planing away and noticed a decrease in sharpness, a quick sharpen on a cheap diamond plate (1000 grit) and a strop with leather and green paste made everything nice and easy again. It is just so lovely to slice wood with a sharp tool, I can barely stop when using a chisel like a plane to make a chamfer or easy a joint.

  25. Lou Carreras on 27 May 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Paul, I worked with a great model maker who had come up in wooden shipbuilding in Greece in the years following WWII. All he ever used on his side ax was a an old stone of indeterminate age and grit lubricated with spit. In the days I knew him the Woodcraft Supply catalog ( yes, that was in the days of paper catalogs) ran seven to nine pages of sharpening supplies. When I’d point something out that I was trying he’d smile and say “well, that fine if it works for you.” and proceed to sharpen with the old stone. He was able to achieve razor sharpness, I believe through technique, more than the characteristics of his stone.

  26. Yohann on 27 May 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Paul –

    I finally got around to doing your test this weekend. I don’t have 250 grit hone, so I used a 325 grit diamond plate, 1200, and then my 8000 plate. I tried planing fir and cedar and then some poplar. All soft-ish woods, but I don’t have any scrap hard wood.

    They all worked fine. However, I found that the 325 left a rougher finish on the Poplar and some minor tear-out on the fir. The 1200 and 8000 were virtually indistinguishable.

    Also, I went from each of these finishes to a CrOx pasted strop and then the differences were minimal.

    I’d say from my one, perfunctory, experiment that it is possible to go from 325 to a pasted strop to a usable edge, but I’d be more likely to use the 1200 and then strop and use it.

  27. Jeffrey Dustin on 27 May 2019 at 7:18 pm

    My wife’s great, great grandfather i think had a chest of woodworking tools. I used a drawknife until the handle snapped off and i could not repair it. It left any surface green or cured glassy smooth. I have never encountered a drawknife EVER able to do the same. It was a masterpiece and i used to marvel at the craftwork. The man made furniture and was a jack of many trades. I wonder how he could have made that drawknife sing through the wood. Good memories!

  28. Kerm Jensen on 27 May 2019 at 7:38 pm

    I was never a professional woodworker but I’ve been at it for over 50 years. Sharpening required synthetic stones that wore out quickly from something like 200 grit down to hard Arkansas at a couple of thousand. I never found wheels quite right. Finally came diamond plates. Fifty dollars each is expensive. Five plates (200 to 3000) for $50. on the web seemed worth the chance. Yes, the plates are too thin. A little spray adhesive and some good flat scraps of wood and they work fine. If they wear out too quickly, glue on another plate. I seldom use the 200 or 3000 but they’re handy if needed.

  29. Andrew on 27 May 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Can anyone give me some advice? If I’m restoring a chisel that has lost it’s bevel, should I restore the 25 degree bevel first and then hone the edge to 30?
    Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Yohann on 28 May 2019 at 3:44 am

      While I don’t sweat the precise angles of the bevel on a chisel, starting with a 25 degree bevel and then doing a micro-bevel to 30 would work. It does make re-honing a bit of a hassle, though (unless you use a honing guide).

      If you hone freehand the way Paul does it, you will automatically wind up with a higher angle at the tip because of the slight rocking motion that is natural when you’re honing in a line away from your body. It may not be exactly 30 degrees, but it doesn’t matter. Watch his video on how to do this.

  30. Andrew on 28 May 2019 at 11:59 am

    Thank you Yohann

Leave a Comment