Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
zirconia and ceramic...

David Weaver
are only useful if you're willing to use high speed and low pressure or go slow.

Trust me on this one. I've prepared hundreds of irons and probably flattened more than 100 planes.

Tough al-ox paper is what's needed, this is only for prep - not upkeep. I've tried zirconia (blue, purple), ceramic (pink) and various al-ox, and silicon carbide.

Crude aluminum oxide paper in two grits is the most practical. When the 80 grit is worn in a little bit, a skip to 1000 grit stone on the back of a tool is fine. Cost per foot is about 50 cents on 4"x10 yard roll PSA and the abrasive is designed to stick fast.

(I have also filed, scraped, used loose silicon carbide, loose alumina and loose diamond)

Advice for high speed or powered grinding doesn't work for hand grinding. Expanding away from that to what I advocate will free someone up to work quickly and start making or adjusting more tools, and the lap doubles with ability to tune miters (if one would want), flatten tools, etc.

On the belt grinder above about 3000 sfpm, the higher tech abrasives start to make sense, but not under heavy hand work. Ceramic belts are almost magical at 5000 feet a minute, but they need speed, and then they need certain pressure to be fractured properly.

220 grit will prep most reasonable shape tools quickly, 80 grit will start others.

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