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What method of sharpening do you use on your woodworking tools such as chisels and plane blades?


I generally use waterstones for sharpening. However, sandpaper, oilstones or diamond stones work very well. Below I've outlined some of the advantages and disadvantages of the four main types of abrasives used in sharpening woodworking tools.

Waterstones are my preferred method of sharpening. Waterstones cut fast because the fast wear of the stone continuously exposes new cutting material. The fast wear also causes these stones to dish faster than any other method. Waterstones must be flattened regularly or the dishing will become too severe. Waterstones are also relatively inexpensive and available in many grits up to and even past 8000 grit.

Oilstones are the stones I am least familiar with. I don't use them as often because of the slower cutting rate and the fact that I have to have oil around to use these stones. A distinct advantage oilstones have over waterstones is that their hardness reduces the need for constant flattening

Diamond stones are fast cutting and stay dead flat. They can also be used to flatten waterstones because they are much harder. Because of this I like to use Diamond coarse diamond stones to flatten the backs of my chisels and plane irons. Diamond stones are generally more expensive than other stones, which is sometimes a deterrent.

Silicon carbide sandpaper is the last of the major sharpening methods. With this method you just stick the sandpaper to a glass plate or other suitably flat surface and sharpen as you would any of the other method. Since sandpaper is cheap, it is a good way to start out. However, after many sharpening sessions the inexpensive method can get more costly. This method is often referred to online as scary sharp method. While this method works fine I don't think it deserves any scary designation. I've found waterstones produce a better final edge. If I use sandpaper I will just use it for the coarse grits then switch to waterstones.

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