Chosing stones for tools

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dmonterisi

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Hi, I have begun working on some woodworking tools. I recently picked up some old hand planes and a set of Stanley sweetheart 750 series chisels. I also have a japanese chisel i purchased from JNS but haven't used it yet. what would be the best progression for sharpening, especially on the chisels? How high up on the grit scale do I want to go? After sharpening the chisel bevel, do I want to lay the back of the chisel flat on the stone even though there is no Ura like there is on the japanese chisel?

The sweetheart chisels are described as "high carbon chrome steel". I have the following: Aiiwatani Koppa, Numata Torato, Ohira Suita, Uchigomori, Nakayama naturals; Atoma 140; Naniwa/Chosera 400, 800, 2000, 8000 synths.

thanks for any help!

Damon
 

Yet-Another-Dave

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You'd probably get a better response on a woodworking forum, but....

Of your listed stones a woodworking sequence would be the Choseras, starting as coarse as you needed to and proceeding through 8000.

From the steel description I assume those are modern 750's. They'd be fine with the Choseras. I don't know the JNS chisel. Most are (seem to be) laminated with white or blue steel cutting edges. The Choseras should work fine, but it may finish better on one of your JNats. OTOH- I heard of a few Japanese chisels that use very high tech steel and you might need something more aggressive than the Chosera stones. (Maybe Sigma Select II or diamond/cbn stones. I know virtually nothing about these and I'm speculating here!)
 

Steampunk

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When sharpening my western plane irons and chisels, after much experimentation, I've come to favor a very different approach to what I favor on knives.

Precise flatness for backs, edge straightness, and edge squareness are very important on woodworking tools. This can still be done freehand (I actually prefer freehanding to jigs with woodworking tools, as these actually change the bevel angle as you're removing material. You can actually maintain the angle better freehand.) with the aid of a small machinist's square, and practice.

Your first step is flattening, and polishing the entire usable back face of the blade. Since you have a lot of hardened steel that'll be in contact with the stone on a western chisel, this is very hard work and takes a ton of time, but you only need to do it fully once. You need to get these as precisely flat, and perfectly polished as possible.

Because of the slurry release, I've found I can never actually get chisel/plane iron backs perfectly flat on coarse synthetic water stones. They always end up a little, or a lot convexed depending upon the softness of the stone, and muddy ones can hide irregularities that will be unveiled on finer stones. Western woodworking tools are of a soft enough steel to not suffer damage from diamond plates, and the hardened steel wears out the plates less than soft cladding, so it's the best solution I've found. I personally start in the 220-400 grit range, and work my way up to 600-1200 grit on plates, then switch to hard synthetic water stones once they get fine enough not to disrupt the flatness too badly, though I'd keep going on even finer plates right up until pre-finishing/finishing stones if I could. Since there's so much hardened steel in contact with the stone, your grit jumps need to be a lot smaller than on knives. Doubling sometimes is a bit of a reach...

When you get to the finishing stage, I'd take it to an absolute minimum of an 8K synth, though even higher is better, and hard J-Nats are the best. You want the backs to get an absolute polish.

Then you'll be doing the edge bevels. You want these to be square, and with the right geometry for the application. I'm personally not a fan of micro-bevels, and prefer to either do either a finer single-angle bevel for pairing and delicate work, or a convex edge (Using a rolling stroke) for more durability on rougher cuts.

On the older planes and Stanley Sweethearts you mention, inevitably the backs and edges will be WAY out of joint (Settle in... It's going to be a very long haul to getting all of these in working order.). Due to the construction of Japanese chisels/planes, you don't have the hassle of back flattening, and the edge bevels tend to be ground a little better out of the box. Honestly, if you want to sharpen on water stones exclusively, ditch the western Chisels and go Japanese, but realize they're a little less durable and have a shorter lifespan in exchange for all their advantages (More wear resistant steel, namely.)... Western hardwoods tend to be rather abusive on tools, so I actually favor western planes and chisels, since these are the woods I work with, and I'm a masochist when it comes to sharpening projects. Mono-steel chisels and plane irons last longer in situations you know they'll get beat-up.

American/European tools tend to be like vintage French carbon kitchen knives... They're indestructable and long lived, and can feel wonderful in the hand, but they need touching up constantly during use. You'll want a 600-1200 diamond, 2-3k water stone, a pre-finisher (5-6K synth, or natural stone), and finisher (8-12k synth, or natural stone.) very close to hand. You can sometimes be taking apart your plane, and sharpening touching up every few minutes depending on the wood.

Japanese tools are like Japanese knives in the kitchen... More fragile, but you're sharpening less often, and your sharpening media don't need to/can't hog off as much metal. Because of the ura, though, they'll have a shorter life if you know you'll be fixing chips from hammering on them.

Japanese chisels get sharpened like single bevel knives... First you thin and shape the bevel (I use a mix of synthetic and natural stones only for this.), and then you flatten the ura on a fine (6-8K or finer) stone, before alternating strokes on ura and bevel.

My current western woodworking tool progression is:

Atoma 140
Dianova Coarse
Dianova Fine
DMT Dia-Sharp Xtra-Fine
Shapton Glass Stone 3K HR
Hard La Verte Coticule (Partial slurry progression.)
Bare Horse Butt Leather Strop

If I could do it all over again, I'd use a full DMT progression from Xtra-Xtra Coarse to Xtra-Xtra Fine, then switch over to a J-Nat progression (Probably starting at Aoto or Tsushima, then onto a Lv.4-5 finisher with nagura.). If I had to use synths, I'd do a full Shapton progression to 30K... I have the 10K Chosera/Pro, and honestly, this isn't even as fine as I'd like on woodworking tools, but it's workable.

My current Japanese woodworking tool progression is:

Shapton Pro 320
Naniwa Pro/Chosera 800
Hard La Verte Coticule (Full slurry progression)
Bare Horse Butt Leather Strop

If I could do it all over again, probably my only change would be if I was sharpening Shirogami rather than Aogami, in which case I'd use a full J-Nat progression past 320-500 grit Shaptons.

-

You can sort of cobble together a progression on your existing stones, but honestly I'd get at least an Atoma 400/DMT 325/Dia-Sharp Coarse/Dia-Wood 300 to bridge the 140 to Naniwa 800 gap in replacement of your Naniwa 400. You'll also find yourself badly wanting in that 4-5k range to bridge the gap between 2 and 8 Naniwa, or Numata then Aiiwatani/Suita. I'd fill this gap if you can with a synth or natural, and maybe even think of a Lv.5 J-Nat or a really fine synth (12-16K) for finishing... Woodworking tools, like razors, almost never seem to get 'too fine'.

In the Naniwa range, the 800, 3K, 8K progression would work, but you can always go finer. Alternately, the 2K, 5K, 10K. If your Nakayama is Lv.4 or over, I'd finish them on this.

I can't say anything you have is 'ideal' for woodworking tools. Kitchen knives and woodworking tools/razors are utterly different progressions in terms of stones.

You could go something like coarse diamond plate, Naniwa 800, Naniwa 3K, Naniwa 8K, J-Nat Lv.4-5 finisher. Alternately, Dianova/DMT Dia-Sharp/Dia-Wood 300-325, then Dianova/DMT Dia-Sharp 600, then Numata, then Aoto, then Suita, then Lv.5 J-Nat. Either of those will be ideal progressions. Replace the diamonds with 400 and 800 Naniwa on your Japanese tools.

You'll also want a bare, ideally horse-butt, leather strop.

Hopefully this helps...

-Steampunk
 
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dmonterisi

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Thank you so much @Steampunk ! I appreciate the detailed post. I will definitely be looking into diamond plates as I am mostly focused on western tools right now. Yesterday, I broke down and restored 2 stanley planes that had been sitting unused and rusted on my dad's workbench for probably 40 years. All i did was work the plane blades with the Atoma 140 and the Aiiwatani. I'm going to do some work on a couple of chisels today based on your suggestions but will be looking to add diamond plates soon...thanks again.
 

captaincaed

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Paul Sellers helped me quite a lot. He likes diamond stones, and has used them for years. They've likely become broken/rounded, but that can be a good thing for woodworking (if not for kitchen knives).
I've found that a smooth/non-tooty edge can be nice for wood, in contrast to wanting a toothy edge for kitchen knives. Tooth helps with tomato skins, but can leave wood rough after cutting. Hence the love for Arkansas stones with woodworkers and shavers, but not kitchen users.
 

PalmRoyale

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I can answer this one because A: I'm a shipwright so I work with wood every day and B: I have a mix of western (Stanley Sweetheart) and Japanse chisels (made by Nakano) and also some old hand planes with a Vertias PM-V11 blade in them. My sharpening routine is pretty straight forward. Rough sharpening is done on an Atoma 600 followed by the Atoma 1200. The next step is the Sigma Power Ceramic 6k. This stone is aggressive enough to erase the scratches from the Atoma 1200 in 30 seconds or less. That's where I stop with my western tools and it's all they need. I take my Japanese chisels one step further and finish them on my Ohira suita.

I also want to touch on what Steampunk said about Japanese tools being less durable and having a shorter lifespan. That's simply not true. A well made Japanese chisel forged from white steel by a highly experienced blacksmith is far more durable and has a longer lifespan than any western chisel. Teak and European white Oak are the woods I work with the most and I can go almost a full day without having to sharpen. That does a lot for the useful life of a chisel so even though the blade is shorter it will outlive a western chisel by a large margin.
 

Desert Rat

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I like oil in the shop, Norton 313 trihone and a full set of large arks.
 

Steampunk

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I can answer this one because A: I'm a shipwright so I work with wood every day and B: I have a mix of western (Stanley Sweetheart) and Japanse chisels (made by Nakano) and also some old hand planes with a Vertias PM-V11 blade in them. My sharpening routine is pretty straight forward. Rough sharpening is done on an Atoma 600 followed by the Atoma 1200. The next step is the Sigma Power Ceramic 6k. This stone is aggressive enough to erase the scratches from the Atoma 1200 in 30 seconds or less. That's where I stop with my western tools and it's all they need. I take my Japanese chisels one step further and finish them on my Ohira suita.

I also want to touch on what Steampunk said about Japanese tools being less durable and having a shorter lifespan. That's simply not true. A well made Japanese chisel forged from white steel by a highly experienced blacksmith is far more durable and has a longer lifespan than any western chisel. Teak and European white Oak are the woods I work with the most and I can go almost a full day without having to sharpen. That does a lot for the useful life of a chisel so even though the blade is shorter it will outlive a western chisel by a large margin.
Respect for being a shipwright. I've known few of your ilk in my time woodworking, but all have been close to the top of our craft.

As for my note on Japanese tools offering a different trade-off than western ones, let me elaborate...

My experiences range from DIY to cabinet making. When it comes to how well chisels/plane blades last, it depends on how you use them; just like with European vs. Japanese kitchen knives.

If you use a Japanese chisel in a 'precise' way, to pair end-grain with hand pressure or very gentle mallet taps, to cleave the waste after sawing/drilling in joinery with a straight cut, Japanese chisels are allowed to behave in the way as they should... Their higher HRC, and greater carbon/alloy content can give them greater edge retention, and reduce the sharpening interval. This is totally true.

Put any chisel in the hand of the average western woodworker, though, and it is a crude instrument to be bashed through wood; often with lateral 'prying' forces applied to the blade. In this instance, all chisels will chip, and even many masters in the US and Europe will show chisels after use with noticeable chipping from a few minutes of application to oak. Rank amateurs can even show such edge damage in pine with cheap tools (Sadly, I'd still classify Stanley's metallurgy as such; modern or vintage... It's like the difference between modern and vintage Sabatier at best.).

In such a circumstance, which is common amongst the low-medium skilled, constant heavy sharpening to remove chipping is inevitable. In such an instance, mono-steel blades with lower-carbon steels can have a longer life... It's like putting a Japanese single-bevel in the hands of a cook who's new to their craft, vs. a Victorinox... They're both going to take a beating. Which will last longer? The one that's taller, and softer, without an Ura.

I've known excellent cabinet makers who still hollow grind on 6-8" dry wheels, and micro-bevel on stones, because it's the fastest way to get past the edge damage on their tools... Their furniture is amazing, but their sensitivity with edge tools isn't necessarily the best. Woodworkers with tool sensitivity, like Chef's, are in the minority. How many people in your elite line of work will even you loan your tools to?

I'd never give a Japanese edge-tool to any of the old woodworkers I know... They create better furniture than I probably ever will, but are hard on their tools, and anything in their hands will get beaten up in the process of creating something perfect. Chisels that are 33% longer and 50% tougher, can continue to be reground longer than finer tools. Woodworkers with steel sensitivity are a minority, just like chefs.

- Steampunk
 

heliosphere

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If you use a Japanese chisel in a 'precise' way, to pair end-grain with hand pressure or very gentle mallet taps, to cleave the waste after sawing/drilling in joinery with a straight cut, Japanese chisels are allowed to behave in the way as they should... Their higher HRC, and greater carbon/alloy content can give them greater edge retention, and reduce the sharpening interval. This is totally true.

Japanese chisels aren't meant be coddled -- they're meant to be hit with a steel hammer, and even have a steel hoop on the end of the handle so the wood doesn't split after being hammered over and over again. This is in contrast to Western chisels, which are usually meant to be hit with a mallet (and don't have any special reinforcement of the handle). There are Japanese paring chisels that are meant only to be pushed by hand, and those ones do not have a hoop. But they're not nearly as common as the kind that are meant to be hammered.

Traditional Japanese woodworking involves chopping mortises with chisels, which involves hitting a chisel with a hammer. For those not familiar with woodworking terms, a mortise is basically a hole in wood. Here's a video of a guy making one (go to the 0:30 mark to see the cutting):

That said, Japanese woodworking usually involves softwoods, which (generally) aren't as hard on tools as hardwoods.
 

Steampunk

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It's not the hammering that's the issue if it's applied in a clean, controlled, linear fashion (That's what I mean by 'gentle'; not the material the mallet/hammer is made of.). It's the lateral, or prying forces on the apex (Often to release chips), which in exotic hard woods especially can do a real number on the edge of any chisel... You can reinforce the edge to an extent with convex grinding or steep edges, but this reduces the pairing keenness and causes them to steer more in certain cuts, and still cannot save chisels that are subjected to extreme lateral forces. Lateral forces towards the bevel side aren't great, but ones from the backside are extremely hard on the edge in particular.

The failure mode for plane blades is typically abrasive wear if the right edge geometry is used for the wood in question, but the failure mode for chisels is more often than not micro or macro chipping, even with as much care taken to geometry as possible. It's an inherently abusive task, of a tool that is asked to maintain a straight-razor sort of edge. Good technique, good geometry, and good heat treat can all help... However, sometimes it just comes down to the tool taking a beating, and being able to be reground often.

There are some crappy western chisels (Marples, since Irwin bought them, especially.) which are downright crumbly due to their poor HT, and I'd take a well made Japanese chisel over some of those in terms of toughness with the right geometry... However, my experience with Japanese woodworking tools has mirrored Japanese kitchen knives. If you have good cutting technique, their added edge retention starts to come into its own. With poor cutting technique, the edge damage equals or exceeds that of western tools in the same time-frame, and still needs to be repaired. A basic western tool has a fair amount of room to be repaired, and grinds quickly with basic tools. It's the difference between a Victorinox Chef and a Sakai Gyuto.

- Steampunk
 

zizirex

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It is kinda right, that western woodworking is slightly better for general use. the Japanese Kanna mostly uses for finishing a wood surface since the traditional Japanese woodworking finish is not achieve using sandpaper. Most of the wood that they are working in is not really hard and not that exotic (ebony is the most common exotic thing they are working). I see that newer generation Kanna has that newer generation steel like HAP40 etc. As for the western plane, they use it for a rough job (Jointer plane, Jack Plane, Smoothing plane for pre finisher) A2, PMV 11 does a better job for these kinda tasks. they are better at resisting chip when you hit soft metal and hard stuff.
 

inferno

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Hi, I have begun working on some woodworking tools. I recently picked up some old hand planes and a set of Stanley sweetheart 750 series chisels. I also have a japanese chisel i purchased from JNS but haven't used it yet. what would be the best progression for sharpening, especially on the chisels? How high up on the grit scale do I want to go? After sharpening the chisel bevel, do I want to lay the back of the chisel flat on the stone even though there is no Ura like there is on the japanese chisel?

The sweetheart chisels are described as "high carbon chrome steel". I have the following: Aiiwatani Koppa, Numata Torato, Ohira Suita, Uchigomori, Nakayama naturals; Atoma 140; Naniwa/Chosera 400, 800, 2000, 8000 synths.

thanks for any help!

Damon

for tools like chisels i would probably go for teh harder typ of stones on the market. synths 100%
naniwa pro, shapton pro, glass. i feel its even more important these stones stay flat than for knives. and you are usually also on the clock. so the faster the better.

if you need a mirror polish get a tormek type machine (could be a cheap copy) with a spinning leather roll, which you impregante with any polishing compound you want, i think green chromium oxide is the best you can get but i guess anything will work. even silver polish from the supermarket.

with synths and then a "spinning strop" you can keep up productivity.

i used to do this several times a day when i worked as a cabinet maker/interior carpenter. this is much faster than any natural stones :) like 100 times. and it will give better results. dont be a fool.
 

Desert Rat

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I will just drop this here. Fast forward to 7:15 to get right to the sharpening.

Lots of ways to sharp and most of them work.
 
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