Cloudy finish with water stones

Trey1984

Trey
User
I'm new to wood working. I'm having trouble with sharpening. My chisels and plane iron are getting alright sharp but not what I think they should be. Also the back of my plane irons and chisel backs are cloudy. I have a 400/1000 grit diamond stone from taytool and 4000/8000 grit waterstones. The water stones are amazon special that I paid $25 for. Is the cloudiness from having cheap stones, not polishing enough or what? Also I just got a leather strop hoping to get the sharpness that I'm trying to achieve. Thanks
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Are you sure you are eliminating the scratches from each “previous” grit? Try working each stone in a different direction so it is more obvious when the coarser scratches are gone. Only go to the next finer stone when you are sure you have a uniformly smooth surface.
 

Trey1984

Trey
User
Ok will give it a try this weekend and see if helps. What about stropping? Once I'm finished with my final grit should I strop or should the 8000 be enough? If I do need to strop how long it what do I look for to know i I'm done. I've read that stropping can round over your edge if not done right. And thanks
 

Scott H

Scott
User
What about stropping? Once I'm finished with my final grit should I strop or should the 8000 be enough? If I do need to strop how long it what do I look for to know i I'm done.
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert sharpener but I am pretty happy with the results I am getting currently.

I stop when I can shave arm hair. I don't use waterstones so I don't have an answer on whether it's necessary in your case, but for me a smooth leather strop with green chromium oxide compound gets that final level of sharpness. I would also not be afraid of stropping more strokes to see if it helps when you are experimenting now. I remember I got hung up on some instructions I read that said you only needed a stroke or two. I do maybe 5+ strokes on the bevel and back each now when stropping (total 10+ strokes.)

I am sure there are varying opinions on this, but I would also not stress about getting the back as optically perfect as a bathroom mirror. The backs of most of my chisels and plane blades are decently reflective but they definitely have extremely fine scratches/what you might call spider webbing in polishing terminology (you might call it hazy looking) and they work just fine. If you are removing the burr by stroking the back once or twice on your finest stone and then stropping, the critical area of the back will only get more polished over time.
 
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Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Green compound is not as fine as your 8000 grit stone.
As you are finishing up hone one stroke on each side, repeat 4 to 8 strokes. Do this very lightly to buff the surface. I use a translucent Arkansas stone for my last hone. Sometimes I do strop, but again very lightly and turn the chisel over every stroke. What you are doing here is eliminating that extremely fine wire edge that moves from bevel side to the back. You want to wear it away, not break it.

I use the strop just like a water stone, keep the chisel face flat and pull lightly. Do not lift during the stroke. That will round the edge, too much pressure on a thick strop will also round the edge.
 

bbrown

Bill
User
Agree with what Mike said.
There are many ways to achieve a sharp chisel or carving tool edge, and hence, often the confusion for novices. Add to that that so much of what is written seems to say that their method is best. In the end, it's not so much how you get there, but how does it work that counts.
95% of what I do with a chisel or carving tool is periodic honing or stroping. When the tool starts to drag a little, I hone the edge which takes about 10 seconds. My edges will last for years, maintained by periodic stroping for a few seconds when needed, before I might go back to a water stone. And when I do, it is a 4000, then an 8000 (or just the 8000) then back to stroping only when needed for years. I use a power honer/stroper whereby just a touch of the front and back edge at the proper angle creates an extremely sharp bevel. The back of this edge requires just as much attention as the bevel since it is where they cone together that counts.

Be sure to flatten your water stone with another lower grit stone. Flattening stones are inexpensive and available specifically for that purpose. If there is a concave surface, that could be preventing you from getting the back (and bevel) to the mirror polish that is ideal. Again, what Mike said: you need to be sure that you have gone as far as you can with the lowest grit, achieving uniform scratch marks across the entire surface of the back before going to eh next higher grit. Also, be careful that when polishing the back at each grit, that you are laying the back perfectly flat on the stone. Any lifting of the edge is deadly and will require regrinding that newly created, unwanted back bevel to a perfectly flat surface again.

Typically when working a nicked or ragged edge (an old tool or one from a low quality source), or one with a bevel angle that you want to change (I prefer mine around 25 degrees) you will need to rough grind to the proper angle or to remove the nick. Then I go to a 400 diamond stone,. Work at this sotne the longest until you have uniform scratch marks on the front and back. Only the cutting edge is important, so don't worry about anythin but the front 1/4" or so on the back -----> then 800 diamond or water stone ----> 1200 ---> 4000 ----> 8000. Typically about 10 strokes front and back on these. I do this free hand to save time, using the concave two high points on the front (upside) of the chisel created from the grinding on a wheel to assure the proper angle. But any of the sharpening jigs can be used. I think if you do this freehand you will quickly develop a feel for it and can eliminate the need for a jig. You should only have to do all this once and only for a tool that is in bad shape. From here you should only need to strop the edge as needed (as described above).

This is the essence of sharpening and IMO books and magazines have made this way more complicated than necessary.

I look at "sharpening" as two distinct processes:
1. Preparing a badly damaged edge by grinding and a series of stones, (rarely needed) and....
2. Maintaining an edge almost indefinitely by Stroping to maintain a useful edge. (95+ % of what you will be doing to keep your tools sharp)

I am developing a stroping machine for sale. It is the result of 40 years of thinking about, reading about, and trying every method for sharpening. It can handle any chisel, plane blade, or any carving tool. I use MDF wheels impregnated with a homemade compound (lamb tallow and some other compounds). A few seconds on this is equal to 5-10 minutes of stroping on leather by hand. I made this out of necessity for my carving tools, but ended up using it for all of my edge tools. Will be available at the store on my website soon (MaineCoastWorkshop.com).

Let me know if I can clarify anything.
Hope this helps,

--Bill
 
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Trey1984

Trey
User
Green compound is not as fine as your 8000 grit stone.
As you are finishing up hone one stroke on each side, repeat 4 to 8 strokes. Do this very lightly to buff the surface. I use a translucent Arkansas stone for my last hone. Sometimes I do strop, but again very lightly and turn the chisel over every stroke. What you are doing here is eliminating that extremely fine wire edge that moves from bevel side to the back. You want to wear it away, not break it.

I use the strop just like a water stone, keep the chisel face flat and pull lightly. Do not lift during the stroke. That will round the edge, too much pressure on a thick strop will also round the edge.
When using a water stone is it ok to go back and fourth without lifting the chisel or plane iron or is it best to lift after every pull stroke. I seen what you meant about the scratches now after working on a plane iron. I've got the back completely flat working threw my grits all the way to 8000. Now working on my front bevel. Don't have a grinder so kinda allow process having to do it with 400 grit diamond stone. But soon as get it finished going to try what you said with the strop. Will give you update on how turned out. Again thanks
 

Trey1984

Trey
User
Agree with what Mike said.
There are many ways to achieve a sharp chisel or carving tool edge, and hence, often the confusion for novices. Add to that that so much of what is written seems to say that their method is best. In the end, it's not so much how you get there, but how does it work that counts.
95% of what I do with a chisel or carving tool is periodic honing or stroping. When the tool starts to drag a little, I hone the edge which takes about 10 seconds. My edges will last for years, maintained by periodic stroping for a few seconds when needed, before I might go back to a water stone. And when I do, it is a 4000, then an 8000 (or just the 8000) then back to stroping only when needed for years. I use a power honer/stroper whereby just a touch of the front and back edge at the proper angle creates an extremely sharp bevel. The back of this edge requires just as much attention as the bevel since it is where they cone together that counts.

Be sure to flatten your water stone with another lower grit stone. Flattening stones are inexpensive and available specifically for that purpose. If there is a concave surface, that could be preventing you from getting the back (and bevel) to the mirror polish that is ideal. Again, what Mike said: you need to be sure that you have gone as far as you can with the lowest grit, achieving uniform scratch marks across the entire surface of the back before going to eh next higher grit. Also, be careful that when polishing the back at each grit, that you are laying the back perfectly flat on the stone. Any lifting of the edge is deadly and will require regrinding that newly created, unwanted back bevel to a perfectly flat surface again.

Typically when working a nicked or ragged edge (an old tool or one from a low quality source), or one with a bevel angle that you want to change (I prefer mine around 25 degrees) you will need to rough grind to the proper angle or to remove the nick. Then I go to a 400 diamond stone,. Work at this sotne the longest until you have uniform scratch marks on the front and back. Only the cutting edge is important, so don't worry about anythin but the front 1/4" or so on the back -----> then 800 diamond or water stone ----> 1200 ---> 4000 ----> 8000. Typically about 10 strokes front and back on these. I do this free hand to save time, using the concave two high points on the front (upside) of the chisel created from the grinding on a wheel to assure the proper angle. But any of the sharpening jigs can be used. I think if you do this freehand you will quickly develop a feel for it and can eliminate the need for a jig. You should only have to do all this once and only for a tool that is in bad shape. From here you should only need to strop the edge as needed (as described above).

This is the essence of sharpening and IMO books and magazines have made this way more complicated than necessary.

I look at "sharpening" as two distinct processes:
1. Preparing a badly damaged edge by grinding and a series of stones, (rarely needed) and....
2. Maintaining an edge almost indefinitely by Stroping to maintain a useful edge. (95+ % of what you will be doing to keep your tools sharp)

I am developing a stroping machine for sale. It is the result of 40 years of thinking about, reading about, and trying every method for sharpening. It can handle any chisel, plane blade, or any carving tool. I use MDF wheels impregnated with a homemade compound (lamb tallow and some other compounds). A few seconds on this is equal to 5-10 minutes of stroping on leather by hand. I made this out of necessity for my carving tools, but ended up using it for all of my edge tools. Will be available at the store on my website soon (MaineCoastWorkshop.com).

Let me know if I can clarify anything.
Hope this helps,

--Bill
A grinder is on the top of my list with few other things. 25 degrees is what I'm sharpening all my chisels and irons at with a 27 to 30 degree micro bevel. I had harbor freight chisel set and old craftsman plane. Just invested in the narex Richter chisels and a stanley low angle plane. The narex came with a mirror back and when I used my 8000 grit water stone you could see the scratches( really fine but left almost a hazy look) on the back. So I've been working on a old block plane that I have and kept working on the 8000 after going threw the grits on the back and no matter how long I did it it still look like this. But from what I'm understanding is the mirror finish isn't important long as it's sharp. I just won't sure if the more mirror like finished if it would be that much sharper. Haven't tried the strop yet but whenfinish getting the bevel done on the plane iron (old block plane) then going to experiment with stropping before I try on my new chisels and plane. Thanks for all your info! Has really Been helpful. Will let you know how it works out or if something I'm struggling with. Again thanks
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
With diamond stones I work back and forth but with water stones the edge will dig in and cut the stone away. Maybe only very slightly if you are careful but still it will wear away the stone. So with water stones I only apply pressure on the back stroke and lift slightly on the forward stroke. Of course I mean in relation to the cutting edge.
 

Scott H

Scott
User
If it helps, here is a picture of one of my chisel backs to show what's a functional level of polish for me. It looks pretty mirror-like for anything up close like my finger, but if I try to look at my face in it it's obviously a lot hazier/cloudier than a bathroom mirror.

IMG-9795.jpg

And here is a picture of the very fine scratches visible if you illuminate it right. You also can also see some of the factory machining marks I didn't bother taking out as they are > 3/4" from the business end & the back is slightly hollow.

IMG-9796.jpg

Paring white pine end grain cleanly without crushing/breaking fibers is supposed to be a good sharpness test. This is how this chisel does on that. This is after a few passes to get past the rough sawn fuzz. (There are some tiny checks in the wood in the middle, ignore those.)

IMG-9798.jpg IMG-9800.jpg

My personal opinion is even if you could get a chisel a lot sharper than this, I kind of question how long it would stay that way doing anything useful.

Again there are people on this forum and in this thread with much more sharpening experience than me so please correct any bad advice I may be giving above. It's just that I was in your spot not that long ago so I just want to do what I can to help.

Green compound is not as fine as your 8000 grit stone.
Most of the charts I see put JIS 8000 grit at 1.2 micron and green chromium oxide compound at 0.5 micron, am I missing something subtle?
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Most of the charts I see put JIS 8000 grit at 1.2 micron and green chromium oxide compound at 0.5 micron, am I missing something subtle?
I guess it depends on the brand of compound. The cheap stuff I have is not that fine. I guess I need to buy some better grade.

I think you’re well on the road to sharpening expert.


EDIT:
I did a little research and the grit used in sharpening compounds can vary widely from different manufacturers.
Grit Chart is a good reference for comparing different systems. But not all manufacturers follow the standards and most have their own proprietary formulas and standards.

Green compound can be anywhere from .5 to 2 micron.

But the soft substrate of the leather strop makes it work like a finer grit.
 
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Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I bought some top quality green compound, will see if this gives a much better finish.
may be a couple weeks before I can test it, hand is heavily bandaged.

EFD68731-7A2D-4AA7-AAE8-48B3F5442129.jpeg
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
I think I've seen that happen with a Vertitas plane iron, where I think I should be getting a mirror finish and can't.

As long as its sharp I wouldn't worry about it.
 

ShortRound84

ShortRound
User
When my Shapton water stones get low on water and the slurry turns to mud, sometimes this happens to me. My solution is to spray more water on the stones and take a few passes... might work for you too.
 

Trey1984

Trey
User
When my Shapton water stones get low on water and the slurry turns to mud, sometimes this happens to me. My solution is to spray more water on the stones and take a few passes... might work for you too.
Is the slurry suppose to be thin/water like consistency or can you put to much water. I haven't done a lot of sharpening to figure out what is what yet. I've sharpened 3 or 4 chisels a few times(harbor freight chisels) and a plane iron few times. Starting to get a feel for it but haven't got the edge that I think I'm suppose to be getting. It will slice paper only if hit it just right and not over and over. I just got new chisels and a2 steel plane iron. Maybe the combination of stuff will make a difference. Know got off track but I will give extra water a try and see if that clears it I. Thanks
 

ShortRound84

ShortRound
User
I'm no expert, but I tend to use more water than less. I find it helps clear the slurry away and makes it easier to move the tool back and forth, especially when flattening the backs of chisels or plane irons.
 

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