One of the most important skills a woodworker can acquire is the ability to sharpen tools effortlessly and well. While working with hand tools can be an exasperating experience without having sharp tools, learning about sharpening woodworking tools at home can be both rewarding and cost efficient. When honing your woodworking tools, such as knives, wood chisels and plane irons, it doesn’t automatically mean using sharpening stones. A large number of woodworkers like to use a shop-built buffing wheel because it works swiftly and so well, besides the fact that it’s also one of the easiest ways to sharpen at tool.
There are few areas of proficiency in sharpening woodworking tools that should be considered. First, knowing the mechanics of what a sharp edge is. What you may think as sharp isn’t necessary sharp in the world of woodworking tools. A woodworking tool is generally described as sharp when you can shave a piece of wood with it. Edged tools should be sold sharp but seldom, if ever, are. A working edge should be quickly and easily obtained so as to get back to work in the shortest amount of time.
Second is the practice of holding the tool so that an even edge can be shaped and sustained with the smallest amount of effort. There are an incredible number of products in the marketplace intended to hold a blade at a steady angle to the honing stone. Unfortunately, many of them share two significant faults: The jigs, which are great for duplicating a grind each time, allow you to repeat a motion but always in the same part of the stone. With the jig, you will be repeating the motion, but it’s continuously in the same portion of the stone and for Waterstones, this mean certain spots of the stone will wear faster and need frequent upkeep.
The third problem is more subtle, in that the first time sharpening woodworking tools; you establish some kind of bevel. This means the next time you sharpen your tool, you need to preserve the same exact bevel. If it’s not exact, you’re likely to create a secondary bevel and more at each attempt at sharpening. This just makes for more work than is necessary. It’s a learning process and takes time, so don’t be discouraged.
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There are many avenues you can travel when sharpening woodworking tools, from the jig to a buffing wheel to wet sanding stones and more. When using certain equipment like a grinder, always use a rest to support your tool. It’s not only critical for safety and necessary for accuracy; it also prevents the tool from being trapped or hurled dangerously at you or across the room.
Just always remember that it’s important to keep your sharpening system, whatever it is you choose, clean and debris free, which is key to maintaining and keeping your wood tools in great, sharpened condition for your next woodworking project. Woodworkers can be more productive by developing the skills to sharpening their tools properly and maintain and use them safely and correctly.