Hand Tools Archive


david weaver
Holding the chisels for pictures is a challenge. three free-handed chisels with a diversion on one (so more than three pictures).

These are all ashley iles O1 chisels.

First is my trusty washita, followed about somewhere around 5-10 seconds of light stropping on bovine leather that's oiled. This leather is nothing special, it's been on the same strop for years. When it gets dirty or contaminated, i card scrape the surface until I see nothing sparkling.

The washita leaves a lot of uniform scratches (i sharpen on a diagonal) and releases the wire edge very easily. What's left at the actual edge (which is what matters) is a very uniform crisp edge. The scratches look significant, but they are not that deep, which is evidenced by the next comment.

The very tip of the edge reflects light, which is how you can tell it's been stropped, but the reflection is very thin and generally unbroken:


Off of a freshly ground edge, this is a 30 second process total, maybe less. that includes honing a small single bevel, working the back briskly for a few seconds, then thinning the bevel by a couple of alternating strokes with light pressure and the 5-10 seconds of stropping. No stone maintenance except the addition of Wd40 - a few drops.

The second is an edge with a 1200 grit diamond hone. After brisk stropping, it didn't want to release the wire edge on leather. This is a pain, and it makes the edge feel more dull than it is. you can see the foil with the naked eye. Doesn't shave arm hair.


After a brisk session of harsh stropping on my pant leg (not preferable for many reasons), the foil is gone. Marginal hair shaving:


And then the royal treatment, a true barber linen and then a couple of strokes back on the bovine leather:


It now shaves easily, but the edge is not as crisp as the washita. This edge will fail less consistently than the washita because it is not uniformly crisp or uniformly thick. It is a workable edge, but there are several complications:
1) the foil leaves a ragged edge when torn off
2) if you used something that worked well with it, like a linen, it would contaminate the linen ("it" being the bits of foil). This would have no effect on normal work, pared surfaces and smoothed surfaces would easily show the effect of the damage from the little pieces of foil in the linen. They leave deep scratches.
3) it's just not really that sharp. I'm sure it would take a thousandth plane shaving on a plane blade, but it wouldn't go as low as a finished edge. That said, any beginner who says they're not able to shave arm hair is well short of this.

And finally, honing on the shapton (japanese market) cream (1.2 microns). A good stone, but once it's dry, it loads a little, and the next time you hone on it, the edge isn't that great. It needs to be slurried and that chances contamination, which may be the reason the scratches aren't perfectly uniform. Looks better than the washita and is marginally sharper. It will fail less uniformly than the washita, though. i don't know why this is. Both shave hair equally well, better than the diamond edge.

I stropped the shapton edge lightly to be fair in comparison to the washita, and this edge was first honed below this final bevel with the 1200 eze lap. Takes about twice as long as the washita, maybe slightly less, but that doesn't count screwing around with the stone. I've only honed two tools on this stone. It's remarkable how much it wore just doing that. The washita can easily be kept flat just with regular use.


The background for these edges is a sheet of paper attached with a magnet, but it is not at the same angle, so it shows up dark. The stropping was less on the shapton, but I wanted to make sure no particles were dangling. If I'd have stropped it a little more, I'd probably get the white line.

It looks like a polish to the naked eye, but so does the washita. The diamond edge looks matte.

Some natural stone edges next time. following the washita with a black or translucent arkansas stone will match the shapton in skilled hands, but the edge is less transient and the maintenance far less. I never slurry arkansas stones (at least not for tools), which is why that statement holds true. If you do slurry an arkansas stone, it can cut quite aggressively and still leave a pretty good edge, but not one like I'll show this weekend.

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