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L. & I. J. White


Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Sharpening with a Hard Felt Wheel by James D. Thompson

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There has probably been as much discussion of sharpening methods on the OldTools list as there has been of almost any other subject.  I strongly disagree with those methods which require a large investment in time and/or money.

I have developed a sharpening method that is quick, easy, and cheap.  I really believe that if you try this method you will never go back to the old ways.  I use a grinding wheel on a bench grinder, a diamond plate, and a hard felt wheel.  The picture story follows.

With the grinder off, and the tool resting on the tool rest, look at the side of the grinding wheel and locate the position that you want to grind the bevel at.  If you are not experienced at grinding tools you should mark a square line on the back of the chisel to guide you.  I use a friable grinding wheel for my edge tools.  These are usually white, but I have seen pink ones.

Grasp the tool between your thumb and forefinger as shown above. The forefinger rests against the bottom of the tool rest. Once you begin grinding, never remove your finger from the tool.  Move the tool from side to side as necessary for a nice bevel all the way across the edge.

Even when you cool the tool away from the grinder do not remove the finger from its position on the tool. This is how you go back to the wheel and maintain the angle you started with.

When you have obtained the bevel you want, it is time to hone the edge.

The backs on all my tools were flattened long ago, so I did not get into doing that here. I will put up another tutorial on flattening the backs of edge tools.  When the tool has been sharpened this much, you can feel a definite wire edge on the flat side.

Now it is time to go to the felt wheel. While the wheel is turning I apply some compound to the surface. Just a little. Green compound works just fine. Then I polish the cutting edge.

CAUTION! The wheel must turn away from you! If you try this with the wheel turning the normal way, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.

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D. R. Barton

L. & I. J. White


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