Hand Tools Archive

Response To:
Re: Late to the party ()

David Weaver
..to my knowledge, nobody has followed the angles across the board. I spend a whole lot of time playing with sharpening, and far beyond tools- but with the desire to figure out how it's easy and makes things more pleasant.

When I was playing with this method, I already had a tip round over method for chisels and didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I was doing shallowing the bevel that the tip was installed to because it felt better in cutting. That has changed gradually over years, and I thought I had a 25 degree primary because I uses to set a rest there.

But when I measured the primary at Bill and Wiley's request, it was 19. The secondary bevel was hand honed. I guessed 25 degrees then knowing that, and it turned out to be about 23, and then I rounded the tip. If I was using only one stone, then the whole secondary and rounded tip were in one step, but the rounding is always "tiny".

So, given that all holds up and it does make cutting action easier (and why bother using a buffer if something else is better), it's my recommendation to use 20 for a primary bevel, a slightly steeper secondary (because you can easily do it freehand without having problems - just lay the bevel on a stone and lift it a tiny amount and raise a wire edge. You get the feel for an angle that varies only a fraction of a degree each time you do it not because you feel some angle, but because up or down from it feels not right.

So, then, you have a clean secondary bevel that's all the way to the edge and you can just buff that. The result holds up well and because the angles are dropped, it's slick through wood - more slick than just adding a tiny microbevel.

BUT, everyone who doesn't care about effort quite as much as found edge improvement just buffing what's there.

The two pre-buffing angles are there just to make it easy to do the job completely each time you sharpen, in 30 seconds or so, plus a little more every 3 or 4 times when you grind. The grinding refresh is quick, no threat to burning and all you have to do by hand is a small secondary with a medium stone - so you'll complete it each time. And then the buff, which almost completes itself.

Someone else (can't remember who now) asked what to do if you really like to hone right on the hollows, then I'd grind at 23 degrees, hone right on the hollows and then buff. IF it's 25, it doesn't matter, if it's 27, i'm sure it'll still work. The higher it is, the less you should have to do buffing but at some point, if the buffing isn't enough, the edge will crumble.

Dropping the angles and then buffing the tip makes the chisel take about as much effort as a flat bevel at 25 degrees in my tests. Except it holds up. a 25 degree bevel is really nice to use when it first starts cutting - it goes right through the wood. But it doesn't hold up.

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