Tool Sharpening Tips

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What are chisles made of?

Metals Used In Tools And Chisles

For centuries, woodworking tools have been made of cast steel. But as time progressed, and the needs of woodworkers were more demanding, newer innovations were produced and the tool materials evolved. Tool companies started using different mixes of alloy steel. The alloys became even more complex until the most popular alloy - A2 - hit the market. The A2 holds an edge sharp and remains tough and strong under wear.

What does sharp mean?

A Sharp Tool Is A Safe Tool

If you took a shop class in school you are probably familiar with this motto: "A sharp tool is a safe tool."

The good news is that the means of sharpening tools hasn't changed all that much over the centuries. Hand tools, such as wood chisels ,can be done on sharpening stones. But there are a number of different kinds of sharpening tools for different jobs.

Sharpening a tool on a special stone is called "honing an edge." At the very edge of the blade there is a bevel. This is where the front and the back of the blade meet. A tool becomes dull when this edge, or point, moves away from each other. Or if the tool edge is damaged by a nail or a really hard imperfection in the wood. Lastly, if a tool is just not handled properly it can be dull quicker and you will constantly need to sharpen it.

Over the years there have been some cool innovations in tool sharpening methods, including the chisel and planner jig. This device fits over a sharpening stone that is about 2” by 8”, and the blade fits inside of it, allowing it to be placed at the correct angle needed for sharpening. By hand sharpening, we run the risk of changing the blade bevel angle. Of course, there are machines that a hobbyist may buy to sharpen his or her own drill bits. This works on the same basic principle as the stone.

How do I use a sharpening stone?

Steps In Sharpening Tools On Stones

The method of using a sharpening stone involves a number of simple but important steps.

  1. “Wet” the stone with either water or cutting oil. Be sure to follow wetting recommendations of the stone manufacturer. Because the stone you are using is new, it will not require dressing (using another abrasive such as industrial diamond to be sure the stone is still as close to flat as possible). Dressing may be needed after many uses of the stone.
  2. Be sure that the flat part or the back of the blade or chisel is flat. Do this by rubbing it along the long edge of the stone a number of times, then see if the grooves left in the metal run all the way to the very edge of the blade. If they do, that means the surface is flat. If not, continue to rub the blade on the stone until it is.
  3. Some people would select a coarser stone for what is called regrinding, because a fine stone would take longer to do this job. When finished with the regrinding, return to the finer stone for the finish sharpening. Once that's done it's time to turn over the blade and begin to sharpen down along the beveled edge.
  4. Before you sharpen along the beveled edge, make sure not to change the bevel angle of the blade. Lay the blade onto the stone until the angle of the bevel is met by the stone perfectly. There has been some debate over the method of sharpening. Some professionals suggest making small circles with the blade, stopping and checking the edge every few circles to check the progress. Others will argue that back and forth is better. Either way, when the tool has become sharpened there will be a small wire edge or bur left from the process at the very edge of the tool. This wire can be removed by turning the tool over again and very gently pulling it along the stone until the wire is removed.
Mastering the edge and bevel angle takes some practice, but once mastered, this can be a rewarding skill to have.

What else can I sharpene?

Other Types Of Sharpening

Sharpening a chainsaw with a round file free hand is not easy. That's why most people who do this type of sharpening in the field or in the shop rely on a depth and angle gauge. This jig fits over the chainsaw chain and can mount to the chainsaw bar itself, and tooth by tooth it does the same basic job as the chisel and stone to return the beveled edge to the of metal or steel. To help ensure a good job, you can tighten the blade - just don't forget to loosen it afterwards. Next, check and see that the file fits the jig and the tooth of the blade. Replace the file after every 10 uses. The file gauge should come with instructions on the mounting procedure and use for that model of jig.

Which sharpening stone is best?

Variety of Sharpening Stones Available

Before we can set out to sharpen anything, we need something to sharpen tools on. That's where the stones come in. Here is a quick list of the different types of stones available:

  • The India Stone is less expensive than most of the others and works just as well. Interestingly enough, the India stone is synthetic.
  • The Arkansas Stones come in different qualities and coarses. These sharpening stones feel like glass when you touch them, and when oil is added to them they look translucent. But one thing to know is that they are fragile, so keeping them in a safe place when not in use is a good idea.
  • The untreated leather strap is always a good option, even if you're not a cowboy. Using an untreated leather strap about three inches wide and fourteen inches long works well for draw sharpening of blades of different kinds.
  • Sand paper is produced in varying degrees of coarse and fine paper. If you glue the paper to a flat surface, you can sharper your tools on it until it wears out.
  • Ceramic stones wear well and can be used with either water or oil , which cuts down on the friction between the tool and the surface when sharpening tools.

Can I take my tools to an expert to be sharpened?

Tool Sharpening Service

Thanks to mainstream manufacturing, there are sharpening services for everything, including tools, blades and knives. Today's sharpening shop's offer a wide range of details services and can sharpen one blade or hundreds at a time. Sharpening services can help you extend the life of your tools instead, of replacing them before their prime. The pricing for tool sharpening services is very reasonable for every pocket book, and their work is guaranteed in most cases.

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