Sharpening Classes

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
It seems to me that my waning enthusiasm for woodworking (which began when it became impossible to work in my garage because of the heat) is exacerbated by my inability to use chisels for touch up and clean up. My inability to use chisels is directly related to my inability to sharpen them. Trying to use a dull chisel is a bad experience, particularly for a beginner. I've been contemplating buying a Tormek to get me across a major hump, but I just don't understand what I'm missing with learning to sharpen. I've taken two classes, but the guidance didn't stick with me.

I think I need one-on-one training. I'm willing to pay for it. Is there anyone within the Triangle who is willing to give me a few lessons? YouTube videos don't help. I'm obviously doing something wrong that I can't see. Being observed by a trained person could be a great help. Please let me know if you're interested.
 

CJRedd

CJ
User
Bill Anderson teaches an Edge Sharpening class at Roy Underwood’s Woodwright’ School in Pittsboro. None on the schedule for the remainder of 2022 but the 2023 schedule should be up soon. Bill is very approachable and may well teach private classes. He has a contact form on his website.

 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
The problem with a lot of classes is that unless the student has the exact same equipment in his shop, the class is little more than how to use the teacher's equipment. The best case would be for an experienced teacher to come to your shop and show how to sharpen on the equipment and accessories you already have.
 

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
The problem with a lot of classes is that unless the student has the exact same equipment in his shop, the class is little more than how to use the teacher's equipment. The best case would be for an experienced teacher to come to your shop and show how to sharpen on the equipment and accessories you already have.
No argument with any of that. I have such minimal sharpening equipment that I'm willing to buy whatever I need.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, President
Richard
Staff member
Corporate Member
It’s less about the equipment and such and more about did you practice what you were taught with in the next 24hours and keep a practice schedule after that. Mike Davis has taught classes on the subject many times, i as well have taught similar and some of the same classes. What I have witnessed over the years is that if you don’t practice what you are taught you will never ever retain it.
As far the equipment goes you need some type of slow speed grinder, 3 to 4 stones and a strop. With those and a fair amount of practice you can accomplish a surgical edge in short amount of time.
so Mike let me ask you this, did you become proficient at what you did for a living or even receive a degree without practice?
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
If you came to my shop I would point you to a pile of rusty dull chisels and let you go when they were all sharp. Of course I would show you what sharp is first. But, you are looking for someone in Raleigh and neither Richard nor I are there

Best bet may be to come to Klingspor Extravaganza in a few weeks.
 

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
did you become proficient at what you did for a living or even receive a degree without practice?
No, of course not. It's obviously a very valid point. In fact, I'm not sure I ever became proficient at what I did for a living. :) I've actually taken a class from Mike. He does a great job. However, there were a lot of people there, and after my razor sharp chisels got dull, like you suggest, I had forgotten what I never really learned in the first place.

I remember reading a poll somewhere that said, If you were starting from scratch to learn woodworking, what would you do? I believe I'd learn how to sharpen chisels. It's intimidating to see some of the joints you pros make, but then I find out that you used a chisel and "cheated"! (Don't miss the quotation marks.)
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
90% of the initial work will be getting the right bevel. The next 10% will be the actual sharpening. That last 10% will be repeated over and over as time goes on when the chisel needs maintenance sharpening.
Slow speed grinders grind slowly. High speed (3450 RPM) grinders grind much quicker. Steel can be burned on either.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I've actually taken a class from Mike. He does a great job. However, there were a lot of people there, and after my razor sharp chisels got dull, like you suggest, I had forgotten what I never really learned in the first place.

I remember reading a poll somewhere that said, If you were starting from scratch to learn woodworking, what would you do? I believe I'd learn how to sharpen chisels. It's intimidating to see some of the joints you pros make, but then I find out that you used a chisel and "cheated"! (Don't miss the quotation marks.)
There was a lot going on that day, I think you had about 30 minutes of “class”.
If you let the chisels get dull then you really didn’t learn what I teach. Keep them sharp.

I remember one time somebody told me that I cheated and I said “Every way I can”.
 

mdbuntyn

Matt
Staff member
Corporate Member

Keye

Keye
Corporate Member
I believe it does not matter what your are trying to learn to do, if it requires physical movement, you can not beat having someone watching you. OF course it requires someone with the right skill set and the ability to communicate. It does not matter if it is sharping a chisel, shooting a basketball or training a horse ( I know this from personnel experience).
 

Reference Handiwork

Ref
Senior User
I also struggle with sharpening, but I'm finding that I get a better sense of it every time I sit down to do it. I find it pretty time consuming, but I imagine as I get a better feel for it I'll become quicker. I don't go for a mirror finish, but I get them plenty sharp for using. I bought a cheap honing guide like Matt linked to, and I use a very inexpensive set of water stones from Amazon.

Good luck and stick to it!
 

BML

Lee
Senior User
I love sharpening chisels and think I am fairly good at it. I am in Apex and would be willing to show you my process and/or take a look at what you are doing to see what the deal is.

What kind of stones are you using?
 

ssmith

Scott
Senior User
I'm likely in the minority here, but sandpaper has worked well for me.

My methods can probably be improved but I used a full sheet of paper with the non-slip backing (if possible) on a very flat board or piece of glass, along with a Veritas honing guide. My chisels were trashed, so I started by sanding the entire bevel until the nicks were gone, beginning with 120 and working up to 220. From there I bumped the angle a bit on the guide and created a honed edge using 400, 1500, then 2000. When done, the edge passed the shave test.

I'm curious - has anyone here used this method, then switched to something more exotic - water stones, etc? Did you see any real difference?
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I started with sandpaper, still have some and still use 60 and 80 grit for flattening backs.
I moved to diamond stones fairly early, already worn out a few.
They are supposed to be a "lifetime" investment. But, I find about ten years is a 'good life'.
I have Shapton stones and tried some other Japanese water stones. To me they are too messy and the water gets in places where I'd rather not have water.

So, the shave test... You know that's not very sharp, right?
 

ssmith

Scott
Senior User
So, the shave test... You know that's not very sharp, right?

Hmm .... the problem is I don't have a good reference for what "extremely sharp" is. In my defense :) after sharpening that way, I used them to cut 4 large mortises in hickory on my Barn Door project, mostly with only hand pressure.

Still it did take a while and if there's something I can add to the process get a better edge, suggestions are welcome. Really don't want to make a major change (like buying a grinder) but adding a step or two that will make a difference is definitely on the table.
 

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top