Hone your woodworking tools

Give your hand tools an edge with these sharpening products

By Susan Peters


Photo by Simon Cheung

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If you think sharpening is difficult, you’re missing the point. Working with a dull chisel or cupped hand-plane iron is frustrating and even dangerous. Learn to sharpen your own plane blades and chisels, and you’ll always be on the cutting edge.

Clockwise, from top left:

  • Other power sharpeners are available besides common bench grinders. One alternative is the Veritas Mk.II Power Sharpening System, which sharpens using an abrasive disc ($399)
  • Charge your strop or felt buffing wheel with an abrasive such as Veritas Blade Honing Compound ($10)
  • Another option for buffing planes and chisels is a hard felt buffing wheel. Use it after a grinding wheel; it replaces stones and strops (Lee Valley Felt Wheel, $35)
  • Choose a medium-grit grinding wheel for a badly gouged edge and a fine-grit wheel for one that’s less damaged (Rona Fine Metal Grinding Wheel, $13)
  • When a tool’s edge is damaged or the bevel needs to be reground, reach for a classic power grinder such as the King six-inch bench grinder to accomplish the task quickly ($40)
  • After grinding, it’s time to hone with a bench stone. Waterstones are softer and faster than oilstones or diamond stones and will give you a finer edge.  Different grits are available (Norton waterstones, 1,000 grit, $50; 4,000 grit, $62)
  • Waterstones are so named because they require water as a lubricant. If you’re sharpening your chisels frequently, you may find it convenient to leave the stones in a water bath all the time so you don’t have to soak them prior to use (The Stone Pond by Veritas, $65)
  • A leather strop such as the Double-Sided Strop from Lee Valley will buff your tools, the final step in sharpening ($27)
  • Most modern oilstones are manufactured from aluminum oxide. This double-grit stone from Norton has a medium-grit side and a fine-grit side ($62)
  • When sharpening with an oilstone, always use honing oil as a lubricant (Mibro Sharpening Stone Oil, $8)
  • Diamond bench stones are coarser and faster than waterstones, but they won’t achieve as fine an edge (DMT’s Duosharp Plus stone with stand, $153)
  • Inset: It can be tricky to hold a chisel at the proper angle when you hone it against a stone, so consider employing a honing guide such as the Veritas Sharpening System ($48)


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