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How sharp is sharp? – FineWoodworking

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There are lots of questions that I hear from new woodworkers after I educate:

Is it cheaper to make your individual furnishings?

Do I would like a tablesaw to construct furnishings?

Can I go away my job and earn the identical quantity from woodworking?

The solutions to all of the above are a heartfelt “no,” by the best way. Nonetheless, the most typical questions I get are round sharpening. Particularly, how do I do know when my edge is sharp sufficient?

Now I do know that I’m wading into harmful waters right here. Discussing something about sharpening within the gentle of day may be treacherous. I discover that woodworkers are fairly easygoing about most issues, however typically not on the subject of sharpening. Within the following sentences I’m not suggesting that you’re doing something improper or that you’ll want to change what you’re doing. I’m merely explaining my ideas and expertise on the topic. If you happen to really feel upset, then please shut the browser window and stroll away.

To my thoughts, the easy reply is: when it’s sharp sufficient to do the job. Not all my instruments are sharpened to the identical stage. They’re sharpened properly sufficient for the duty that they do. If I needed to guess, I might say that my block aircraft is the sharpest just by the character of the work it has to do. Finish-grain work calls for essentially the most from a blade to get a clear lower. That is completely different from my Stanley No. 5 that’s used as a scrub aircraft. It’s doing coarse work and doesn’t must be almost as sharp because the block aircraft.

My smoothing planes are typically a lot sharper than my scrub planes, once more due to the character of the work being completed. A little bit of tearout from a scrub aircraft is simply tremendous by me, however when smoothing I need lovely and lustrous surfaces. On the subject of chisels, my paring and bench chisels are all super-sharp, however my mortise chisels are usually not on the similar stage. Mortising with a chisel is helped alongside by a mallet, so it doesn’t must be as sharp.

I used to make use of numerous stones, and now I exploit a Tormek* to sharpen the instruments in my store. If I require a mirror polish on my instruments, then I’ll end off with the leather-based wheel with some honing compound. The honing compound sits at 3 microns which fits me simply tremendous. I’ve gone additional than this, right down to 0.5 microns, and from what I can inform, there are diminishing returns to going finer than 3 microns. I’m not a sharpener, I’m a woodworker, so I don’t trouble going additional with the sharpening if it doesn’t warrant it.

As I stated to start with, this is only one woodworker’s ideas on the topic. I sharpen as a result of I need to, not as a result of I benefit from the course of. I wish to be on the sharpening station for as little time as attainable so I can get again to the a part of the craft that I do take pleasure in. All of the surfaces that I get with my numerous instruments work for me and I’m proud of them. I all the time say “as a way to perceive, you could do” so sharpen in a means that works for you. In the long run, in the event you’re proud of the outcomes you’re getting, then you needn’t fear in regards to the “newest” this and the “gotta have” that. You may simply do your factor and get again to the duty at hand.

Till subsequent time,


*Vic runs Vic Tesolin Woodworks, and is a Tormek seller.

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