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I was skeptical when I first heard about the sandpaper method. How could it produce a decent edge on my chisels and plane blades?

 I'm now sold on the method, but will not claim it is the "best" method, that will be up to your evaluation. However, it is a method you should consider, along with water stones, ceramic stones, oil stones, and diamond stones.



Step 1: Why sandpaper?

Few subjects in woodworking are as contentious as the best method for sharpening tools.

One excellent method  using water stones is already published in Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Tool-Tip-How-to-Sharpen-a-Chisel/

So why consider another method, and why would you consider using a piece of crude sandpaper on your precious woodworking chisels and plane iron?

Here is the main reason: cost. Cost of good water stones is $100 and up each (you should have several of various grits). And sandpaper? Less than $2 per sheet. This is not a fair comparison, however. A water stone will last years; you will have to buy many pieces of sandpaper and replace as they wear out. But bottom line is that the sandpaper method is a lot cheaper.
Second reason: Simplicity. The sandpaper method is pretty easy.
Third reason: For most of us the sandpaper method, if done carefully, will produce the sharpest cutting edges we have ever experienced.
<p>Another way to secure wet or dry paper to granite or plate glass is to spray the surface with water and just lay the sandpaper on the slab. Surface tension will hold the paper from moving, you can spray more water to keep the paper from clogging and changing grits is easy; just peel the paper off &amp; replace with the next finer grit.</p>
Thank you.<br>Now I need to get to work sharpening.<br><br>Bill
<p>This is one very good way to sharpen your chisels/plane blades etc, but you forgot to mention one very important thing, safety and common sense. I have used this method for ages, except instead of using MDF for the final polish, I use a leather strop. When using this method the blades become extremely sharp. So, please, don't test the sharpness with your finger as it WILL cut. Great instructable. Nice one! </p>
<p>Why do you need to polish the tip?</p>
<p>The &quot;polish&quot; is just an additional step, using honing compound which has really fine abrasive. I rarely use this step now. If you finish with the really fine grit wet/dry sandpaper that should be all you need. The fine grit sandpaper is available at car parts stores.</p>
<p>A very big thank you , for sharing your wisdom with us.</p>
<p>I tried freehanding the sharpening of my chisels and plane irons, but couldn't get them sharp enough. So I decided to try this method and it worked really well.</p><p>For a base I went to a nearby countertop manufacturer and they let me have a nice flat castoff piece from their dumpster. It's about 8&quot; wide and 4' long and rather heavy so it doesnt move while sharpening. I like it that long because I can get all the grits of sandpaper I want on it.</p><p>I found 600 grit sandpaper at a lumberyard, but had to go to an auto parts store for anything finer than that. They didn't have 1200 so I just got 1000 and 2000. I lined up those 3 sandpaper pieces side by side on the marble. I tried just taping them down with painter's tape and that worked OK but ultimately wasn't sticky enough. I'll try regular masking tape next time.</p><p>Other than that I pretty much just followed your instructions and got a nice primary and secondary bevel. I would add that if you go with one of the cheaper honing guides (as I did) you should read the instructions to know how far out the chisel should stick to get the correct angle for the primary bevel. Then just pull it back about a 1/16th inch to do the secondary bevel.</p><p>Thanks!</p>
Oh, just went to your Facebook site and found you are in Seattle, or nearby. How did you get that photo with Russell Wilson?<br><br>I live in Olympia. If you go down I-5 this far I could show you my humble shop.<br>Bill Wells
<p>Half-way through his rookie year, Wilson came to Microsoft to promote Nokia's phones and he signed autographs for the few of us who were fans at the time. I got him to sign the back of my Wilson jersey and he was kind enough to pose for pictures too. It was probably one of the first times he saw someone wearing his jersey. Now everyone has one! :)</p><p>Don't get down to Olympia much, unfortunately.</p>
Wow, seems like you really made a good system! My neighbor gave me a &quot;scrap&quot; of granite countertop, but it is huge and I haven't found a place to install it in my really small shop.<br>I think the cheap honing guides are fine. But I also made one of my own, see photo.<br>Yes, I have problems with taping the sandpaper also. Maybe try a spray adhesive, it should be easy to scrape off the marble later.<br>I am now experimenting with methods to sharpen wood turning tools, a different challenge because most are not flat. Tomorrow I go to a local auto painting supply store looking for what I can find.<br><br>Keep in touch if you need anything or have any ideas.<br><br>Glad I could help.<br>Bill
<p>The idea of creating MDF sharpening `stones' interests me, since I don't really have the space for a permanent sharpening station, but when you wet the paper on the MDF does this not cause it to deform due to swelling etc? Do you have a method of sealing it that prevents this? Thanks again for these clearly written instructions.</p>
<p>Thanks for looking.</p><p>I do not wet the paper on the MDF, I just use the sandpaper dry.</p><p>I now use a &quot;honed marble&quot; tile bought at Lowes or Home Depot in their flooring dept. They are the right size, perfectly flat, and cheap. So if you want to use water, this would work for you.</p><p>To hold the tile from moving, I use the non-skid shelf liner available at the dollar stores.</p>
<p>Thanks for your comments!</p><p>The glass bathroom shelf is a good idea, it is the right shape and is thick. I now use a &quot;honed marble&quot; tile bought at Lowes or Home Depot in their flooring dept. They are also the right size, perfectly flat, and cheap.</p><p>To hold the tile from moving, I use the non-skid shelf liner available at the dollar stores.</p><p>I'm on the other side of the country from you, but welding is one skill I still have to learn. Now learning to use a lathe.</p>
<p>This is a well-written and thorough Instructable. Another of the many options for a lapping plate is to use a piece of glass. I sharpen this way using a piece that was originally meant to be a glass bathroom shelf. It's the right size (about 5&quot;x16&quot;), light, small, and I got it for less than $20. The other benefit of the glass is that it's easy to clean when the spray adhesive that I use starts to get gross, and the underside is frosted, which gives it a little grip on the table surface. I have also thought about sticking a cork or rubber backing on it to give it additional traction. The other option I can think of would be routing a recess in the face of a board to hold the glass and then putting a cleat on the underside of the board to sit against the edge of my workbench as I sharpen away from myself. </p>
i found a place near me that makes marble countertops. their dumpster is full of smallish peices of lapped stone, and I use aerosol glue to stick the paper onto them for this. Glass works too.
Thanks for the comment.<br><br>I thought about visiting a countertop shop to ask for scraps, may still.<br>My wife wants new countertops for the kitchen, this is my opportunity!
This looks neat. I'm only fourteen and with little money, so I'll be sure to try this, <br>
I love your icon, the prism and spectrum. I have a couple of prisms. made a stand for one of them so that I can rotate it as needed. <br> <br>Yes, you can sharpen with stones costing hundreds, or with good sandpaper costing a few bucks. There is nothing wrong with the sandpaper method, but the big woodworking companies can't make much money with it. <br> <br>Be careful; most of my scars came from working with tools when I was your age. <br> <br>
Thank you Bill, this was really instructive and it will definitely improve the lifespan of my tools! :3
Thank you for your comment, hope this sharpening method is a benefit to you.. <br> <br>You must have seen some of the 90 Instructables by Rimar2000, a close neighbor of yours in La Plata.
This is good and very practical. Thank you.
This instructable is very useful, Bill.<br> <br> When I use my lathe, the tools lasts well sharpened only one or two minutes, despite they are HSS. So I glued a fine sandpaper disk at the base of <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Mejoras-a-mi-KISS-lathe-my-KISS-lathe-upgrades/" rel="nofollow">upper cone of the variator</a>, and now I can sharp the tool quickly without stop the motor, in 4 or 5 seconds. Maybe my procedure is not the ideal, but it is good enough for my needs. It is easy to replace the sandpaper disc when it wears out.<br>

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Bio: I'm a retired mechanical engineer, woodworker, boater, and inventor. Now I'm getting into wood turning, and have found that all my wood projects ... More »
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