Re: But Most Importantly.

Posted by Mark Camp on Nov 18, 2004

No-one asked, but this works very good for me and is pretty quick and not too expensive (unlike full-blown Scary Sharp, on which it is based):

First the sharpening:

1. Set a Veritas jig to 25 degrees with Veritas gauge: sharpen with 80 grit paper till the hone edge disappears, sharpen and deburr (back side of the iron) with something around halfway, sharpen and deburr with 320 grit or so then 1000 grit waterstone. (I skip that waterstone step at this point usually. Have not experimented, but I feel that it is likely that getting a mirror polish on the hone edge is much more important than the sharpening edge.)

Now the honing: Leave the jig at 25, but turn the little knob on the Veritas to the second detent (2 degrees).

This saves a lot of time, compared to the usual instructions which say to unship the iron, and reset it to 30 degrees on the gauge.

Finally, 2 strokes hone on 1000 grit waterstone, deburr, 2 strokes hone on the 6000 grit waterstone and deburr. You should see a mirror finish on the hone edge at this point. It'll shave arm hairs without spit.

Notes: If the iron is real dull and you don't start at 80 or coarser, you will spend a lot of time and a lot of money on paper. Whatever grit you start at, check the width of the worn strip of the hone edge, then take four strokes, then check the width again. If you haven't taken off half of the width, you need to go to a coarser grit.

If the iron's real worn, the 80 grit takes lots of strokes (60 might be cheaper). With sheet sandpaper you get only four strokes in one place before that part of the paper is dull. Recently I even tried rolling the jig over a metal file instead of 80 grit. I think I may go with this in the future. Anything to keep from using dollar a sheet paper. Pro's probably hand file with no jig, but I am not that good.

I use an old cast iron tablesaw table or a piece of plate glass as a flat surface for the sanding. Anything flat will do. I used to use spray adhesive on to hold down the sandpaper, now I just keep a roll of wide masking tape handy if I am using sheets, which aren't curled so they only need tape on one edge. It is much faster and less messy than spray adhesive.

I don't use water any more on the paper. I don't think it helps, and I know it is messy and rusts cast iron!

With the Veritas gauge and jig, there are some little tricks to getting it set up quickly and not skewed, but they are hard to explain by typing. And you will find your own way after about 20 tries or so. If you use a plane on okoume (which has its own builtin cabosil, right from the tree!), or on epoxy, you get lots of opportunities to learn how to sharpen.

I have used sheet sandpaper and resin-coated sanding belts cut. Both work. Ideal would be a 25 yard roll of longboard paper, kept by the table and cut to length when you need it, if you can find it good enough and cheap enough. Jamestown Dist. sells rolls but they cost even more per unit area than sheet sandpaper at a retail store.

Another experiment to try: would cheap flint paper work? Probably too soft. What about discount longboard paper? It's a fraction of Jamestown price and might be good enough.

In Response to: But Most Importantly... by Kurt Maurer on Nov 18, 2004


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