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Sharpening – There is a myriad of techniques and to each technique every woodworker adds their own idiosyncracies. I’ve tried several and I believe they all work. After talking with someone the other day I realized that it’s something I’ve never really discussed on the blog.

DSC_0027Here’s mine… hand sharpening, three diamond plates , one strop; occasional use of jig when my hand sharpening gets a little out of hand. Simple right! Didn’t satisfy you did it?

EZ Lap diamond plates in 250, 600, 1200 grit. Why these plates? Found them on Amazon had a good price. I’ve been using them for a few years now.

DSC_0018Jig for holding plates – Found this simple jig for holding the plates on Paul Sellers’ blog. It was quick to build and works great. Hard to tell in the picture, but I used a table saw to cut all the edges of the cut outs for the plates. Then a hand router to cut to depth. Although not the most lovely appearance after a few years, it continues to serve me well. I use auto glass cleaner on the plates. It contains very little water, therefore eliminating the rust component.

DSC_0014Strop – Piece of wood, leather from local craft store, green stuff from harbor freight tools glued to an 8″x 4″ board. I keep it in a vice on the side of my bench and use it constantly. I have no idea what grit the green sharpening compound is, but it works.

Still need more?

25 strokes on 250, check burr, two strokes on back to remove burr.

25 strokes on 600, check burr, two strokes on back to remove burr.

25 strokes on 1200, check burr, two strokes on back to remove burr.

30 hard strokes on strop, two strokes on back to remove burr.

DSC_0016I do have a flaw in my technique. I tend to push a little harder on the right side when sharpening thus over time my chisel and irons are not square. When I reach the point of no return I grab a jig and straighten out the iron. I purchased this jig for about $14.00 for Lie Nieslen, I see they now sell their own version for $125. I’m sure they have made modifications and improvements, but I’m perfectly happy with this jig. It is similar to the earlier eclipse models and handles all of the chisels and irons I have. Look around, I’m sure someone is selling them.

Last but not least, I use camelia oil on the exposed metal. The final picture are the water stones that sit idle. Maybe I’ll need 8000 + grit one day…..



Categories: Tools
  1. Rick
    January 30, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    This should be called the Paul Sellers method as he is the one who popularized the method.

    • January 30, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      You’re correct and it’s the one that I have stuck with the longest after trying a few others.

  2. January 31, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Bingo!!! I’m buying some Armor-all Glass Cleaner right now thanks to your write up! Although I use water stones and jigs for my flat tools I recently went to diamond stones for my carving chisels and “fear the rust”. Bought a really cheap diamond plate many years ago and it looks like the underside of a car from the snow belt.

  3. January 31, 2016 at 8:57 am

    25 strokes on the 250 grit stone sure seems like a lot to me for normal sharpening (a lot of steel removed). Are you sure you need to do so many? I find that if I stay up on sharpening I usually just need about 10-15 strokes on a 600 grit before heading to the 20 or so on my 1200 grit. Just my opinion but something to check on.

    • January 31, 2016 at 9:33 am

      You’re right, I should have mentioned that I don’t always go all the way bad to the coarser plate. I can often hit the strop a few times before going back to the 1200 and 600

      • January 31, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        Ah, okay. That makes more sense. I figured you probably used your coarsest stone for neglected edges and resetting bevels. I figured I would ask just to be sure.

      • January 31, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        Thanks for asking, I’m going to try the simple green out of curiosity although I think it may cause a rust issue. I’d rather not use all the chemicals if I can avoid them

  4. January 31, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Oh, and have you tried Simple Green as your diamond stone spray? It’s non-toxic, doesn’t smell like ammonia, which I’m guessing the glass cleaner does, and is available in half gallon concentrated form that will last for *years*. I got that tip from Wood Man and have been using it for about 5 years with good results. Much cheaper too.

    • January 31, 2016 at 9:31 am

      I haven’t, I know it contains water, have you had problems with rust?

      • January 31, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        The nickel plating on the stones never rusts but the steel particles suspended in the Simple Green will if I forget to wipe off the stones after use. Even if rust happens, a quick spray and wipe almost always removes it all. If not, sharpening a new blade will remove any residual discoloration on the plates.

      • January 31, 2016 at 3:13 pm

        I should also add that DMT stones are less prone to rusting than EZE Lap stones are. My EZE Laps look the same as yours after 3 or so years of use but my DMT stones look nearly brand new after 5 or so years of use. That said, I’ve had to return two DMT stones that weren’t flat and never had that issue with EZE Lap stones.

  5. February 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

    I like this method and basically use the same. The only difference is I use an 8000 grit water stone between the fine diamond stone and the strop. I’m not sure if it makes any difference but why stop now?

    • February 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      I do the same thing most of the time, Bill. I find that it alleviates a few strokes on the strop, but not as many as you might think. The polish hides quite a few microscratches that I don’t think the 8000 leaves behind like the 1200 grit does. I don’t find a huge difference in edge durability, though. I often just ditch the 8000 grit and my chisels and plane irons seem just as sharp and polished as long as I put about 30 strokes on the strop instead of 20-25.

    • February 2, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      I didn’t mention but one of the other things that pushed we away from water stones was the freeing temperatures in my garage. I had to keep them inside in the winter and go back and forth. I do like the 8000 grit idea.

  6. Steve lewis
    February 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Hi, I , personally , would not touch the ‘back’ edge of the plane iron on the course stones when sharpening. After the initial work to polish the back of the iron then the last thing I want is to reintroduce course grit scratches every time I sharpen. Yes they can be removed again but there’s no need to have to do it. I start at what ever grit I think is required , on the bevel side only. Work through the grits and when I get to the last grit then a light wipe over of the back of the iron on the fine grit to remove the wire edge and away to go. In short, don’t touch the back of the iron with the course grits after the initial work to polish. Cheers.

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