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Fixing up a sharpening stone

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  • Fixing up a sharpening stone

    Hey all!

    I thought I'd start a new thread rather than new questions in an old one. After getting a bunch of great feedback, I think the issue with my #4 Stanley may well be that I'm not getting it sharp enough.

    So I have a question and a few issues. Let's start with my issue first:

    The only thing I have for sharpening is a 1000/4000 Norton from LV,43072,67175

    I started using mineral oil on the stone as I thought for sure I read that somewhere, but recently have realized that people just use water on these. I can see why. My $83 stone now has a bunch of oil gunk on it and has "blocked pores" as I've read online. It's also got some gauges in it where I've brought the chisel/plane blade too upright and taken a nick out of it. Basically, the 1000 and 4000 side feel almost the same now — relatively smooth with gunk from the oil on both sides. What can I do to salvage this stone? I need to flatten it somehow and get rid of the layer of gunk.

    I'm going to buy a honing guide from LV to help with the sharpening as I'm just not getting even decent results myself. Is there anything else I need to get a dependably sharpe edge on my tools? I see people on Youtube with those diamond plates, but at over $120 I'd really rather not invest in one of them now if I don't have to.

    Other thoughts greatly appreciated. Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend!

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  • #2

    Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

    I switched from oil stone to waterstones and found they are always needing flattening. Since woodworking is my retirement's main passion and sharpening is what makes it work, I spent the money and bought a 325grit diamond plate for flattening. That was a mistake, both in cost and ease. A simple sheet ,or in my case two, of 120wet/dry on a piece of granite countertop offcut worked better and faster . A light misting of 3M #77 spray adhesive on the paper was all that was needed. That should clean up your stone as well as maintaining it. You may want to pick up some of Lee Valley green honing compound and use it on leather,MDF or what ever. Lots of stropping will get you into the magic zone. Try that before investing in jigs. As a young person your wrists should be able to lock well enough to free hand. Sharp enough is a moving target, but that should get you aimed in the right direction.


    • #3

      Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

      The 1000/4000 is a good start, that's the backbone of what I use. There's so many ways to do this, just find something that works for you and stick with it - practice is what will get you good results, not a new gimmick. To remove the oil, just rub it on some plate glass or a flat piece of marble with something like flattened 180 grit. Draw lines on the waterstone with a pencil as a guide to see what you're removing - it should only take a minute or so.

      One of the other things I use is a norton Crystalon stone, one of the really coarse ones. That and a bench grinder. Mine has a jig, that will do the coarse shaping of the bevel.

      So for a brand new edge, my basic sharpening regime goes like this:

      -Shape on bench grinder with jig. (Approx 2 minutes)

      -Dress on Norton oil stone (and remove wire edge). 1 minute.

      -Use 1000/4000 stone (3 minutes)

      -Finish with green honing compound on mdf board from Princess auto. (1-2 minutes)

      So about 10 - 20 minutes all told with getting out all the gear. I use one of those cheapy sharpening jigs from Busy bee. Always drag your blades, don't push, especially on the water stone and mdf/honing stage. Remove the most material with the fast/coarse stones, then "hone in" on the fine grits.

      One good tip I saw somewhere is to use a sharpy marker on the edge with each step, so that you only work on the edge - before I really got good results, most of my problem was that I was removing metal that was not at the edge. (useless, right?) Now with the marker as a guide I only sharpen the edge.

      Even with a lowly 4000 stone and green honing compound, I get an edge that will effortlessly remove hair from the back of my hand. It's not sharp if you can't shave with the blade - and it's not truly sharp if you feel the hair being cut. (Although truthfully, I rarely need a blade that is as sharp as I can get it - if it's 80 - 90 percent of sharp it'll still make a tearout free cut when planing - that extra care is what the edge needs if you want to cut softwood end grain or gnarly grain.)

      Hope that helps - that's what works for me.



      • #4

        Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

        done the hard stones and then the water stone thing,. Usually flattened them on the edge sander. I switch around on how, right now im on my sandpaper apprenticeship, grinder then 400 grit or 500 grit stilck on 3m 2 3/4" paper on the shaper or other flat metal surface. Sometimes wd 40 on it most of the time just dry, it wears quick as you go and whats left becomes very fine, probably more like a leather strop.

        Im not sure I could shave with it or at least maybe not wicked sharp. Works fine for what I do. i live in canada and need to keep my body hair for winter. Stick on in rolls of the one i use only goes to 500. do know a friend who had custom made, ine rolls years ago in 2000 grit on the old scale and sure there are some finer I could track down and will at some point for now this works fine. that paper in coarser grits works well to start on flattening plane bottoms as well.


        • #5

          Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

          I've heard that oil stones that have been badly gunked up can be rejuvenated by running through the dishwasher (the detergent is very aggressive). So this might work with your waterstone. You probably have nothing to lose. Depending on your domestic situation you may need to time the dishwasher cycle carefully.


          • #6

            Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

            Here is one person's approach to sharpening with several variations.
            This is Derek Cohen's website in Australia.


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            • #7

              Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

              If your stone is clogged you can clean it with sandpaper.

              I had the same stone, it needed to be flattened regularly.
              Sandpaper on plate glass/granite tile/chunk of corian works well.
              If it's really bad you can clamp your belt sander upside down and flatten it with that.

              I used a diamond stone (fine side) and used the coarse side as a coarse stone.

              Both of those should be used with water.

              I use oil stones now and follow with a leather strop with green honing compound.



              • #8

                Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

                Wow lots of great advice here. Thanks all! I'll report back when I get this done. Thank you!


                • #9

                  Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone


                  You need to get the oil off of the stone before you do anything to flatten it. The dishwasher will likely get it clean but I have no idea what the harsh detergent will do to the bond of the stone. I had an Ice Bear brand stone that got oil on it and I removed it with hot water and Dawn dish soap. It did not harm the stone at all; it is still in service 10 years after the "oil" incident.

                  PS Keeping oil out of your dishwasher is a good thing!



                  • #10

                    Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

                    aah good idea! Yeah I can't imagine my wife being thrilled with pulling that out of the dishwasher!


                    • #11

                      Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

                      Well well. I have learned much since I updated this last — it's time!

                      So I met a guy here locally last week who knows a bit more than me about things. He has a Tormek and sharpened up my plane iron for me with it. Very cool machine, if expensive.

                      Basically, I had a few problems going on — I was using a water stone but wasn't using enough water. I needed to have the stone pre-loaded with water, and wet the whole time. I didn't really know that. Second problem, I need a honing guide. The guy showed me that the edge of the plane had about 10 different sharpening angles on it. It was a mess. After sharpening on his Tormek, I got it back to 1 surface. Perfect.

                      So I brought it home and used it for a bit and then tried sharpening again with a cheapo Stanley guide I had lying around. With a wet stone and the guide, I was able to get a result even sharper than the Tormek could. Just with my 1000/4000 stone from LV. I couldn't believe it!

                      Anyway, for anyone who might read this down the road, I think this is all that you need to sharpen chisels / plane irons:

                      1. a Norton 1000/4000 stone from LV,43072,67175
                      2. a Norton 220 stone (same link as above) for initial angle setting / getting nicks out
                      3. a honing guide of some kind. I'll be getting the LV MKII eventually, but the Stanley might do me for a while
                      4. some honing paste? I haven't tried this yet, but I'm going to get some next time I order from LV. I likely won't get a leather strop yet b/c $$, but I'll just get some paste and try on a piece of mdf as recommended.

                      So there you go! Lessons learned. Thanks for the advice all!


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                      • #12

                        Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

                        Find a leather repair shop and get a strip of thick leather from them for a strop, I got a good sized chunk to line vice jaws with for about $4. you can also use a piece of an old leather belt, likely forund for a $ or 2 at a thrift store.

                        I use the $0.10 sharpening method in the Derek Cohen link above, and get surprising results. No need to throw a lot of money at sharpening unless you want to.


                        • #13

                          Re: Fixing up a sharpening stone

                          The Norton 220 stone has a reputation as being notorious for dishing (i.e., going out of flat) very quickly. I use my belt sander for setting initial angle and doing major repair, then on to the 1000 etc.