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Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

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  • Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

    Hello all,
    I have watched Rob Cosman's YouTube videos a few times on how he sharpens plane blades with no honing guide. I have tried this numerous times, and pretty much the results aren't good - at all... I don't have diamond stones, but I wouldn't think that has anything to do with it - does it? I find spending time sharpening progressively less enjoyable as I progressively get older, so I am trying sharpen my tools faster, this is why I attempted this. Has anyone had much success with this, and if so, what's the trick to it?

    Thanks,  
    Sweeps              
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  • #2

    Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

    I have sharpened by hand quite successfully if I'm doing it enough to retain muscle memory.   I'm using mainly waterstones.   Hard to describe in a forum post any tricks beyond what videos like Rob's describe. Lately my shop time comes and goes so I've gone back to using a guide.   Doesn't add significantly to the time and I get acceptable results.

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    • #3

      Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

      I guess the trick to it is practice&practice again

      I've done several practicing sessions and still do , some with and some without success , but overall I'm pretty glad with what I usually come up with as far as quality of cutting edges.

      I use a single combination water stone 1000/3000 iirc

      That doesn't mean my cutting edges wouldn't be better with a honing guide but what I get by sharpening by hand is ok for my needs.

       

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      • #4

        Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

        What kind of stones do you have? The most important thing is practice, but it's not easy if you don't have half-decent stones. I've tried many different systems just for the hell of it (I have dozens of stones, all kinds), but now I mostly grind my primary bevel with some kind of grinder (belt or CBN, but any grinder would do, with some kind of rest so I get a consistent angle), then switch to 1 micron diamond paste on cast iron (part of an old table saw top), except for my Japanese blades. Very fast, super sharp blades, and handy (no mess, can be done on my bench or anywhere).
        It's almost all technique and consistency. Don't change your technique if you haven't tried it out for a while. Minute differences can change things a lot, and with time we get a feel for minute differences, so jumping around with different techniques stops you from progressing.
        It's all about holding the blade at a consistent angle while you move it around on a stone. I used to use sharpening guides and would use them again if ever I started having trouble getting a good edge. The simple guides are the best (blade holder on a wheel). Gizmos in sharpening are not a good idea.
        KenL likes this.
        Frank
        SPCHT

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        • #5

          Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

          There's a feel to it that is hard to acquire without plain old time at the task.   When doing a timberframing job I sharpen by hand and get the feel of it because I do it every day or so but with small chisels I will use a guide if I haven't sharpened in a while.
          KenL likes this.
          Proud member of the Wadkin Blockhead Club.

          http://www.youtube.com/c/DovetailTimberworks

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          • #6

            Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

            After a couple of freehand honings I find I've made the bevel angle too high and then I've got a bigger job to reshape the edge.   Using a guide prevents that from happening.
            KenL and Les Groeller like this.

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            • #7

              Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

              Used to be I had no problems getting a nice edge on a blade. Just an ordinary Arkansas stone followed by a leather strop. I evened honed delta planer blades with good results.  Nowadays I just can’t get a nice edge even with guides. Might be something about arthritis and age?  
              nnieman likes this.
              Egon
              from
              The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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              • #8

                Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                Originally posted by ShopSweeper View Post
                Hello all,
                I have watched Rob Cosman's YouTube videos a few times on how he sharpens plane blades with no honing guide. I have tried this numerous times, and pretty much the results aren't good - at all... I don't have diamond stones, but I wouldn't think that has anything to do with it - does it? I find spending time sharpening progressively less enjoyable as I progressively get older, so I am trying sharpen my tools faster, this is why I attempted this. Has anyone had much success with this, and if so, what's the trick to it?
                As I recall, some key points from Rob's approach are:
                - wide, comfortable stance,  
                --workbench not too high,  
                --two handed grip on plane iron,  
                --pretty much lock the wrists and elbows

                I found the workbench height issue very important.  If too high, you can't lock your wrists and elbows and that allows the angle to wander.

                Craig

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                • #9

                  Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                  I have tried hand sharpening, and calling the results pathetic would be giving them too much credit.

                  As others have stated, it takes practice.   Past a certain age, or with certain afflictions, it may take more time for me to get it right than I have years left on this earth.

                  Nothing wrong IMHO in using a guide.   Get the feel for sharpening, get an edge on your tools that you can use, and then work on your freehand skills.   At least then, if you mess up an edge that is needed for a project, you can go back to the guide to fix it.
                  Les Groeller likes this.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                    I do both. If I need to reestablish the primary bevel I will use a guide to get it back to 25 or whatever I’m going for. But until that blade needs that again I will solely sharpen by hand. This may be obvious but worth the reminder. If you are sharpening and do not feel a burr on the back side of the blade then your angle is wrong and you are not touching the leading edge of the blade. If you feel a burr all the way across the blade then you should have success. Unless the primary bevel is way off. In which case back to the grinder and redo. I make sure I feel a burr with a 1000 grit before moving to a finishing stone. If you just remove that burr and polish the sharpened edge you should be good to go.  

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                    • #11

                      Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                      Hi again,
                      I was asked what sharpening stones I have. They are quite old but still serviceable King brand water stones (1200 & 8,000 grit) from Lee Valley, plus I do use sandpaper on glass sometimes, with 3M film finishing sheets. I don't often, if ever feel a burr on the back edge of the plane blade, frankly. I always use a 25 degree primary bevel. I don't have a dedicated bench surface to do this on, so I use my general use bench, which is notably higher than what Rob Cosman uses. I was out in the shop today, and had another go. I ended up caving in and using a honing guide. Perhaps I should just put this aside until I can find the space for a lower work surface and more patience and practice...

                      Thanks for all your responses - A Rob Cosman I most certainly am not...    
                      nnieman likes this.

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                      • #12

                        Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                        Originally posted by ShopSweeper View Post
                        I don't often, if ever feel a burr on the back edge of the plane blade, frankly.
                        With or without a honing guide, the burr is the key.   Cosman refers to the burr in his video(s).  No wonder you're having trouble.  

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                        • #13

                          Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                          There have been very good responses already on the subject and I suppose that most of have evolved our own variations on the techniques.   I have ditched micro-bevels on every edge tool that I own and don't miss them a bit!  

                          I took a course at LV here in Ottawa a couple of years ago mainly to see if I would learn something new that would expedite my sharpening efforts.   What I learned instead is that, like every woodworking related endeavour, patience and practice are key ingredients to the sharpening process.   Brian is a bit like Yoda! (minus the really odd speech mannerisms of course)

                          I own various sharpening media and use them all for differing purposes in my shop.   The only thing that I will say about mixed media is that they are unnecessary for chisels and plane irons.   Three grits of waterstones and some LV honing compound are what I use for the edge maintenance task.   Going from a 1200 to an 8000 King might be too big a step Shopsweeper; I would suggest that you acquire a 4000 stone for your second sharpening step.

                          I have a honing guide (Veritas Mk I) and use it whenever serious material is removed with a 250 grit stone to erase a nick for example; but don't find it necessary in general for plane irons and wider chisels.   I cannot hone a 1/8" chisel without it and still keep the edge at 90 degrees to the shank of the chisel so i use the guide for all of my really narrow chisels regardless of which stage of the process I am at.

                          I have and like Leonard Lee's sharpening book and highly recommend it to woodworkers since most of us are beginners with some edge tool or another!   Another observation about honing tools came from a colleague of mine whose father was an English cabinetmaker; keeping the tools sharp lessens the amount of time that you spend sharpening them and tends to keep your tools ready for use.   Protect your edges and there will be much less work involved in sharpening!   Plus the tools will last at least a lifetime if you don't diligently grind them away pursuing sharpness.

                          Ken

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                          • #14

                            Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                            Theres nothing wrong with using a honing  guide.
                            I can sharpen free hand - my grandfather taught me to sharpen my pocket knife on an ancient oil stone.

                            Its like anything else, you have to do it until you get muscle memory - then it’s like riding a bike.

                            I have never watched a rob crosman video so I cannot comment on that.

                            Nathan  
                            KenL likes this.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Chisel & Plane Blade Sharpening Freehand - Any Success?

                              I ground away so much good steel on chisels and plane blades while learning to sharpen better.   So much time and material wasted!

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