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Thread: Journeyman sharpening questions

  1. #1
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    Default Journeyman sharpening questions

    I have tried various sharpening methods and get medium results. A couple of outstanding outcomes which give me hope. For these questions, l am only referring to sharpening with stones. Manually, no machines.

    A couple of questions for the more skilled.

    When using a 2000/8000 Japanese wet stone, I have read that the slurry produced is a needed part of the process. Is the same true for using Arkansas stones?

    Along these lines, the buck knife sharpening kit (Arkansas) indicated generous use of oil. I recall reading somewhere that the oil was needed to carry away the fines.

    These two ideas seem contradictory. Unless there is something fundamentally different about the two types of stones.

    I have never gotten fall through paper sharp with Arkansas stones. Occasionally I get there with the Japanese stone. I suspect I am not spending enough time with the courser grits. Should hard Arkansas get me where I need to be? I recently saw an Asian video where the guy went to 30,000. Seemed silly. Maybe not?

    And finally, what grit is green polish? And should I be using that alone on leather or do I need black and red?

    I am thinking of getting a jeweler loupe so I can see what is going on at the edge.

    Any thought appreciated.

    Tom

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I typically sharpen my tools so they shave the back of my wrist & don’t worry beyond that. I have three stones of progressive grit (no idea what the grits are), and I just use kerosene on them. You can pretty well tell when the edge is there, light won’t reflect of it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I've found that my problem with sharpening is not what kind and grit the stone but my ability or lack of to keep the angles true and constant. I solved this by using 3M-micro adhesive sheets and a good honing jig. The sheets are 8"x11" and glue to a piece of plate glass. This will get me to shaving sharp quick and easy. For knives I can get a fall thru paper edge with a Lansky kit. Not exactly journeyman but it works consistently.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    A lot of my sharpening customers have come to me asking why they cannot get a good edge. It's often the case that their stone is caked and glazed with hardened linseed oil, vegetable oil or WD40. When that's not the case the problem is usually that the stone is just too fine and they don't have the hours it would take to grind it down until there is a burr, or wire edge as some call it. You can feel the burr by picking at the edge with a finger nail. Once you get there you can go to finer grit(s) until you get what you're after.

    Use water on a water stone and a mix of 1 part 10w30 and 3 or 4 parts kerosene on an oil stone. Way cheaper than anything else. Straight kerosene work just fine too.

    In my opinion 30K grit is being pretentious, for profoundly obsessive types and show offs only. I get things as sharp as I ever need with a 90/600 oil stone, no problem.

    Grind the whole surface flat until you can feel a burr all the way across, then flip the stone and hone just the edge at a slightly steeper angle until you can detect a burr. Then lay the chisel flat on it's back and take a few circular swipes until the burr is gone. Repeat as necessary using less and less pressure until the burr is undetectable then swipe it back and forth on a piece of leather to bend whatever micro burr is present back and forth a few time until metal fatigue causes it to break off.

    You should be able to shave with that.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 03-31-2018 at 08:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I'm surprised that you use oil stones Gib.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I put a bevel on it using a Lee Valley jig and an aggressive waterstone.



    Then I use a felt wheel with the Lee Valley green honing compound.







    Scary-shary, scary fast.

    I mean it. No fuss, no muss, VERY fast, and scary-sharp.

    Dave

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    What I use depends a lot on the specific tool, how much time I have at hand and what I'm doing with it at the moment. For straight edges (chisels, plane irons & the like) I use an old Norton 4000/6000 stone. I do cheat a lot of the time and hollow grind them on a wet wheel, but my usage is casual...I'm not making a living at it, so my edges may not last as long as professionals would like. I do agree with you on a loupe or one of the lighted hand microscopes...that's one of my most frequently used tools when I'm working on a really decent edge. My eyes aren't what they used to be and it really is fun to be able to see the striations on the sharpened edge disappear as you work down the edge. I've never been happy with my knife sharpening technique, so I got nuthin' for ya there!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    I put a bevel on it using a Lee Valley jig and an aggressive waterstone.



    Then I use a felt wheel with the Lee Valley green honing compound.







    Scary-shary, scary fast.

    I mean it. No fuss, no muss, VERY fast, and scary-sharp.

    Dave
    Lacking a wheel, a guy can wipe some of that compound on a scrap of smooth lumber or leather and buff it with the same results,though a bit slower.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    If you are cutting wood for a living using a electric grinding stone to speed the process up is important. If you have to sharpen a tool 2,3 or 4 times a day the method should be easy to accomplish. I always used a grinder (wet or dry) and put a hollow grind on the tool correcting any minor bevel issues induced by hand sharpening. Dont burn your tool on the grinder. After the hollow is ground the tool can be sharpened just by keeping the bevel held flat against the stone. With practice it isn't very difficult to achieve. The tool can be sharpened about 10 times (depending on the blade thickness, thinner tools like plane irons have smaller hollows) before the hollow is worn flat requiring a regrind. Using an stone finer than 1000 or 2000 is not worth the time beyond a swipe or two unless the surface is for an exposed cabinetry joint. After an hour of planing plank edges, stem bevels or the hull, your back on the bench sharpening.
    Last edited by navydog; 04-01-2018 at 07:40 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    It took me years to figure out that the real answer is that you just have to do the whole process from coarse to fine, each time. If your blade was really really sharp, and you used it for some stuff and then go back to the fine whatever, you won't get that wire edge, not in a reasonable amount of time. I use a carborundum stone with a coarse and fine side, for the coarse part, and then a hard arkansas for the fine part, and follow up with the green chromium oxide on a felt wheel. That only takes about two minutes per blade. Sometimes I just do a couple of tools I'm using, other times, and still frequently as usage requires, I sharpen a dozen chisels or gouges or both or half a dozen plane irons. I don't shave my arms anymore; I got a wire edge on the coarse, then again on the fine, and the green wheel buffs it off. Go unitl you feel the wire edge. You can easily feel it with a bare fingertip and without danger of cutting yourself. When you feel it come up, turn the blade over, and at the same angle give it a similar amount of stroking. The wire edge is still there, and ignore it. Go on to the fine, stroke the blade with the wire edge down and work a similar amount of strokes and turn and do it again. The wire edge will come off on a wheel, or you can ignore it and just start using the blade, the wire edge is way more than fragile and will disappear. Trying to go even sharper and sharper, nine million grit, is a fool's errand, inspired by marketing. Lastly, I don't use a jig for any of it, and I don't make micro-bevels. Instead, I feel and watch how the sharp edge of blade contacts the surface of the grinding fluid, and I keep the bevel as close to flat on the stone as possible. My bevels tend to round a bit over time and then I regrind a fresh bevel on the bench grinder.

    Do it wrong takes forever. Doing it right only takes a literal two minutes max per blade. I could sharpen everything I'm going to use in a day in fifteen minutes. No need for speed, just discipline and practice. Get the muscle memory and then don't think about it any more. Sharp is sharp; get to work. Or go buy another toy; maybe that'll work...
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I use the Lee Valley jig same as Dave Hadfield in #6 above. I start on a diamond plate, usually on the less coarse side, until a wire edge is produced. Then progress through three water stones, the last about 8000grit. The diamond plate sharpening takes by far the longest, the water stones merely polish out the scratches from the previous grit. I make sure that there's no visible shiny line showing on the back edge of the blade before leaving the diamond plate. the whole process, once the tool is set in the jig, might take only a few minutes, depending how dull the edge is. This give a nice flat bevel. I never use a micro bevel, I simply do the whole bevel.

    I have an 1800 RPM grinder set up for sharpening, and a Tormek machine, which I use to reshape edges and bevels and grind out nicks. For simple everyday sharpening, though, I just use the stones and plate.

    Jim

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    This is how I got trapped into wearing a chin beard for the last dozen years.

    When I came to Sacramento, newly divorced, I shared an apartment with my younger brother, who had moved here to work in our older brother's Ace hardware store. One day Pete comes home after work with a diamond sharpening 'stone.' First I'd seen one. I thinks to myself (this where the trouble usually starts) 'my razor could use a touchup. I'll try it on this diamond stone.' Idiot. The diamond thing is so aggressive, it took the razor out of my hand, ground the sharp edge off, smacked me in the face, and told me to man up. No, seriously it destroyed the edge on the hollow ground blade. It wouldn't shave at all. So I got out the only stone I had at the time and laboriously got it back good enough to shave for work on Monday. But only barely, and it was so bad I couldn't bring myself to shave my chin; I got through both cheeks and decided that was enough penance for my foolishness. It was shortly after that that I met the current Minsiter of All Things, and she just likes the damn goatee thing.

    Footnote: last August I decided, one morning on a whim, to wear a full beard, so now, about once a month I use a bic desposable to trim around my neck. I took my leather strop out of the bathroom. I'm gonna die a shaggy old man. I cut my own hair too, it ain't getting any prettier...
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    i have a decent set of water stones i found and rescued from a bucket behind my dad's shop when he died
    i use the lee valley jig

    sometimes though, i look across my shop at the stationary belt sander and think that sure would a time saver, i should get a fine belt for it and move it closer to the lathe. . .
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    My grandpa used to put a super edge on his tools with a hand grinder (I got to turn the wheel when I got old enough), and oil-stones. My dad wasn't the same kind of woodworker, and was more interested in how sharp his axes & hatchets were. I've seen people achieve excellent results with oil-stones (where I started), waterstones (never appealed to me, for some reason), diamond 'stones' (expansive upfront cost), and sandpaper (where I currently reside).

    My conclusion has been - pick one. Get good with it. For most woodworkers - even a lot of pros - bad results come far more from lack of practice than from the wrong system. Just pick a system... and get good with it.

    My biggest 'tip' would be to reiterate what some have already said - get yourself a slow grinder, or a water-bath grinder... so as to facilitate the rough shaping, and creating a hollow grind without having to worry about burning the fine edge, and losing the temper of your steel. After that - it's dealer's choice.
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    sometimes though, i look across my shop at the stationary belt sander and think that sure would a time saver, i should get a fine belt for it and move it closer to the lathe. . .
    Run a belt of sandpaper on the lathe. Leave the belt sander for the bathroom.
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Several have mentioned a hollow grind. Why a hollow grind? It's the hallmark of a small, high speed stone. What is the advantage imparted to the cutting edge?

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I have been at it quite a while and will make a few of suggestions about how I do it. *This will be opinionated...

    Use a diamond plate when you get a chisel from the flea market or hit a fastener, mainly to flatten the back, and use a small, cheap, clamp on fixture to reset the bevel angle. This diamond is coarse, aggressive, large, and expensive. It is worth every penny, there is no substitute.

    After that I use the standard water-stones progressively in about 4 steps from 800 to 8000. I use the finest stone longer than the others, and I use a "nagura" stone with that last part of the process.
    I do not use the diamond every time, but like Jim I go through the entire process with the water-stones. No short cuts. Sometimes I use the clamp on fixture, sometimes not.

    Any stone will work with water, and as soon as you go to oil you will have a gooey mess. I know this from working in commercial precision grinding shops during my misspent youth. All I can say about that is wash all the oil out of the stone with detergent and warm water (try the dishwasher) and start over. Using water.
    They make diamond plates to flatten or "dress" sharpening stones, and they are a good thing, but expensive.
    The buffing compound on a wheel will round the bevel and heat the edge, I don't do it.
    No "micro-bevel"

    I have an ancient large diameter "farmers" wheel that I use (with water) when the tool has been loaned and comes back with a 1/4" chunk out of the edge. I motorized it to about 500 rpm, this is useful. You can use a piece of 1/2" water-pipe held end-on to dress it round.

    Do not heat the tool edge over 400f, this will temper (soften) it, forever.

    If you know someone with access to an electron microscope, you can check your work.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Several have mentioned a hollow grind. Why a hollow grind? It's the hallmark of a small, high speed stone. What is the advantage imparted to the cutting edge?
    I like a hollow grind. But that doesn't necessarily mean a small wheel, or a high-speed one. I have an old, wide, slow, water-bath grinder - which puts a bit of a hollow in the initial shaping. Which makes the next steps quicker, as one is not sharpening the entire bevel. Which also makes touch-ups quicker.

    I forgot to agree with the other 'tip' that has been mentioned - the use of a sharpening guide. I have an older one, but that new Veritas rig looks nifty.
    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    I like a hollow grind. But that doesn't necessarily mean a small wheel, or a high-speed one. I have an old, wide, slow, water-bath grinder - which puts a bit of a hollow in the initial shaping. Which makes the next steps quicker, as one is not sharpening the entire bevel. Which also makes touch-ups quicker.

    I forgot to agree with the other 'tip' that has been mentioned - the use of a sharpening guide. I have an older one, but that new Veritas rig looks nifty.

    The Veritas guide is the best I've found. I blacken the bevel with a Magic Marker to set up the blade in the guide. Set it up by eye to start and move the blade incrementally back and forth until the stone is scraping all the marker off. It doesn't take long. This way the bevel stays more or less the same and you remove only the metal needed. Every once in a while the bevel has to be checked and maybe reground.

    As far as the edge itself is concerned, is there an advantage to a hollow grind. My thinking is that it either produces either a delicate edge or a steep bevel.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Several have mentioned a hollow grind. Why a hollow grind? It's the hallmark of a small, high speed stone. What is the advantage imparted to the cutting edge?
    A hollow grind is created by virtually all wheels due to the radius of the wheel. The hollow ground surface makes it easy to keep the tool set at the correct angle while sharpening by hand. You can feel through the tool when it is contacting both edges. The method I liked the best was the simplest. I took the guards and angle guides off of my grinder and used a piece of flat stock long enough to reach from the floor the the wheel at about 22^. Then I could hold my tool against the stick at the desired angle. This method allows the user a very light touch against the grinding wheel and the movement is onto the wheel or away. Not sliding up a ramp like on a grinder with angle guides. I rarely brought the hollow grind all the way to the cutting edge leaving the honed edge to work with.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    The OP asked about using flat stones only, which is why I described the process that I did in #4, but I prefer to hollow grind. The advantage is as several have stated, one need only hone the edge and the heel and that saves a lot of effort.

    Hollow grinding is for slicing tools. Flat grinding or convex grinding is for striking tools, the "shoulder" gives the striking edge support and helps to avoid nicks. When I hollow grind I create a large radius hollow. I have a special tool for that, the planer knife grinder, very similar to Peter Sibley's home made unit, which I can use for chisels and plane irons, but for most people an 8 inch or larger wheel would be best. Too much hollow is too fragile. And, of course, too hot is bad. After that the tool won't hold an edge. If I can't pinch the bevel between thumb and fore finger and hold it there indefinitely it's too hot.

    I also have a felt wheel which I impregnate with the green compound. With a very minimal and very light touch it works well, but bear down and it will indeed round over the edge. I once forgot that I had "temporarily" reversed the direction on the wheel and applied a chisel to it. It has a big divot now, I was lucky not to have absorbed that chisel into my gut.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Several have mentioned a hollow grind. Why a hollow grind? It's the hallmark of a small, high speed stone. What is the advantage imparted to the cutting edge?
    for a blade of reasonable thickness a hollow grind makes it easier to sharpen the edge to the desired angle without a jig.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Every so often I go through a period of sharpening without a guide. I can do it okay, but after a while I realize that I'm wasting my time. I just can't put the same amount of pressure and speed on the tool and keep the bevel flat.

    A honing guide on a diamond plate, although slower than a grinder, is pretty fast without the hollow and no chance of burning. I realize that everyone has their own method, but this is the one one I've come to use over a period of time and after some experimentation. A diamond plate will set you back a hundred bucks. I just bought my second one this year, the first having lasted for twenty years or so with frequent use. That's five bucks a year.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    My honing plate is piece of 3/8 inch thick glass from a broken coffee table and a piece of sandpaper. I have a surface plate that I inherited from my dad that I always intended to use in place of the glass but it's really heavy so I don't get it out much.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Every so often I go through a period of sharpening without a guide. I can do it okay, but after a while I realize that I'm wasting my time. I just can't put the same amount of pressure and speed on the tool and keep the bevel flat.

    A honing guide on a diamond plate, although slower than a grinder, is pretty fast without the hollow and no chance of burning. I realize that everyone has their own method, but this is the one one I've come to use over a period of time and after some experimentation. A diamond plate will set you back a hundred bucks. I just bought my second one this year, the first having lasted for twenty years or so with frequent use. That's five bucks a year.

    Zen master.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    If the tool has lost the hollow grind due to sharpening and is honed across the bevel it is difficult to maintain the correct angle. Just a few seconds on the grinding wheel puts it back.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Tom, getting back to your point on the fundamental difference between the stones, yes...there is a significant difference between a Japanese (or synthetic American) waters tone and, say, a hard Wa****a or Arkansas stone. all are fine grained sandstones, but the traditional waterstones are much softer and tend to be finer-grained than even the finest Arkansas I've seen. I think the instructions in the Buck kit referring to "carrying off the fines" refers more to the steel offcut than the stone grits. As I understand the oilstones tend to do most of their cutting while the granules are still embedded in the conglomerate, losing effectiveness once they break off. The less porous Waterstones create a very fine grained slurry which is supported by the conglomerate and is doing the work. DO get yourself a good (OK..even a cheap) lighted magnifier. Mine's a cheap Chinese 30X that's great for my old eyeballs and gives me a much better glimpse of what I'm doing. Keep in mind that I am purely a HOBBYIST and don't do this for a living, but I don't like to have to stop a project and resharpen any more than the next guy....it just doesn't cost as much.IMG_4134.jpg

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I was advised by an old timer (he was 96 when I meet him, helped build barges used on the C&D canal) to store oil stones in a can of kerosene. It keeps the stone clean and cuts a well as possible.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Ron Hock's book on sharpening is good, it goes through all this and more, including the metallurgy of various steels and carbides, and a discussion of a perfect edge down to the molecular level. His retrofit plane blade for your old Stanley make for a good investment of your time, the steel is much tougher, they stay sharper longer, meaning less sharpening.

    Hollow grind on the bench grinder getting as close to the edge as I dare, frequnt dunking in ice water to minimise risk of burning, then Veritas MKII jig for repeatable accuracy on the bevel, which as Jim notes, means less time at the stone.

    20180401_135138.jpg
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Do y'all that have them, prefer a straight grind or a hollow grind, on your Japanese laminated chisels?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Do y'all that have them, prefer a straight grind or a hollow grind, on your Japanese laminated chisels?
    Well, that depends. Do you want the corners chipping off easy, or real easy?

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    I recently came into possession of two Japanese slicks, one is approximately 1.5" and the is approx 2.5". I found them in the bottom of an old tool box still wrapped in anticorrosion paper. They've never been sharpened. I'm guessing they are twenty five to thirty years old. The gentleman I acquired them from said he bought them in San Francisco. They are the only Japanese tools that I have. I have two other slicks, larger, English or American I suspect. They both exhibit a strongly radiused edge left to right and very gentle hollow grind and edge that looks hand dressed as if you were sharpening an axe in the field, despite their 'roughness and unevenness' there are extremely sharp.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    We'll be needing a picture of those.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    I was advised by an old timer (he was 96 when I meet him, helped build barges used on the C&D canal) to store oil stones in a can of kerosene. It keeps the stone clean and cuts a well as possible.
    Also, once the stone is saturated with kerosene it won't absorb what you put on it while you're sharpening.

    I like your posts Navydog, you know your stuff.

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    Default Re: Journeyman sharpening questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    We'll be needing a picture of those.
    Not a bad score for $25 each eh?

    Quarter for scale, kinda got over exposed

    IMG_0789.jpg

    IMG_0790.jpg

    IMG_0791.jpg
    Last edited by Paul Pless; 04-01-2018 at 03:34 PM.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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