Saturday, March 3, 2012

Adventures in Sharpening

Sharpening is one of those tasks in woodworking that I don't do as often as I should. I'm sure I'm not the only one. But I'm coming to learn, the hard way of course, that I should be sharpening daily. I've been spending some quality time with my stones and grinder and am trying to get each of my tools sharpened up to a level that I can just use the soft and hard Arkansas stones for maintenance. This is quite a task.

Here's how it all got started. I'm making some moulding and I'm cutting in the rebates with my Veritas Skew Rebate plane a and due to being in a hurry I neglected to see a staple in the wood. Blade and staple collide, copious cussing ensues. I take the blade out and see that there is a deep nick in the iron and the A2, super high tech, cryro-treated, touched by the tears of angels, ultra hard, edge retaining, steel has crumbled to dust in the face of a mild steel staple. Hard = Brittle,  Well I end up going on with my rebate and touch up the line left by the nick with another plane.

I left that nick in the iron for a while since I knew it was going to be hard to get out and I was right.

Fast-forward a couple of months. I 've got a bee in my bonnet about that nick so I pull the blade and head over to the grinder. A2 steel is hard. Grinding the edge straight at 90 is no big deal but re-establishing the bevel takes a while. Did I mention that the iron is 1/8" thick? Oh yeah.. that bevel takes a while. I ground the bevel until it almost makes an edge and then i stop. This is my usual procedure for grinding. I do this to avoid burning the edge on the grinder.

Now I'm done grinding and I head over to the stones. If you didn't catch it above I use oil stones. I get my coarsest crysolon stone and get to work. After 30 min of working the bevel I'm just about to the point where I'm going to raise a burr on the edge.. not quite there yet though.  A2 + oil stones = slow. After getting a burr I move on to red India stone and then to the Arkansas brothers. Probably an hour plus by now to get this blade back in shape. If it had been O-1 steel it would have been a lot quicker.

Since I'm an oil stone user I hardly ever buy tools in with exotic steels. This rebate plane is an exception since it's the only way it is available. If Lee Valley offered an O-1 iron for this plane I would buy it tomorrow.

Now that I've been through the fires of sharpening with this blade doing work on plain jane steels seems like kinder-spiel.  So I've been doing a couple of irons or chisels per day. Just doing the common straight or slightly cambered stuff so far. I'll let you know when I get to the moulding planes.

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