Sharpening Station

Sharpening is one of those things that you know you should do often, but always gets put off.  It is often said 90% of your problems with hand tools can be fixed by proper sharpening.  I am getting better at free hand sharpening, and getting less lazy over time.  It is hard to always have some dedicated space to sharpening though.  I read an article in Fine Woodworking Magazine where someone suggested using a basic tool box plus custom top as a sharpening station.  It is portable to follow you around the shop, and has all the right stuff where you need it.  Instead of buying something I decided to stash bust and build one.

I have a ton of 3/4″ plywood around from my temporary kitchen counter tops, and some left over spares from the cabinet installation.  I turned them into a 16×16 open fronted box, along with a few drawers.

Given that the case and drawers would be short I didn’t want to use my normal method of attachment.  This typically involves building the drawer to just below the inside width of the box, and using pine as runners.  It is quick and easy, but the drawers fall out if you pull too far.  Instead I went with metal slides, and got to use my new drawer install tools.

I picked up a slide install tool and drawer guides from rockler.  They help a lot, but are a little awkward to use.  I wish I had do more research before buying.  I think kreg might have a better system.

Instead of using some kind of gripy surface to hold all the various plates and stones in place I went with a small vise.

On the left is a small work surface with bench dog clamps to help hold sharpening plates.  It is offset to the left to prevent drawer interference.  On the right is a small granite surface plate I had.  I added a protective cover to it eventually (seen in later photos).  Now I can use whatever method of hand sharpening best fits the situation of the tool.

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I built 3 sets of drawers to start with because it was all I thought I would need.  Then I found enough stuff to add a 4th drawer.  Once that was built and installed I found enough for a 5th.  I probably have too much sharpening junk.

The project ended up stretching out over a month as I worked on other things and came back with more ideas.  In that time I used a few different pieces of plywood for the front face of the drawers, so they don’t match well.  I did cook up a cool side caddy for honing fluids though.

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In all I think I am going to like it.  It rolls nicely, tucks away under one of my other benches that didn’t have a use for that space, holds a lot of stuff in the drawers, and even has space on the bottom shelf for my work sharp tool box and saw sharpening clamp.  The only thing it might need is weight in the bottom to help with stability.  Now I have no excuse not to sharpen early and often.

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Sharpening Plates

There is a sharpening system known as scary sharp.  It typically involves adhering sand paper down to glass plates.  Start at a high grit, and sharpen your tool down through the grits.  It is perfectly valid, and can give you a great edge.  The only issue is the cost of sandpaper adds up.

If you only have a few tools to sharpen, it works great.  Sometimes you want to clean up a really rough ebay tool, and don’t want to use a nice diamond stone on a rusty hulk.  Flattening water stones is rough work, and best done with disposable sand paper.  They can help flatten issues on cast iron tables.  Basically lots of good uses.

I have some decent diamond stones, but still wanted some glass plates to do occasional sharpening and clean up with sand paper.  I went to a local glass company and told them I wanted 1/4″ 4×10″ float glass for this purpose.  I ended up paying 50 bucks for 9 plates.  The edges are a little rough, but not sharp.  Just not pretty.  They even put nice little square foam pads as feet.

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I am tickled pink at how nice and affordable these were.  I don’t plan on using them a lot, but at the price I got how could I not go for a pile?  This is probably a stash beyond life expectancy!  I would urge woodworkers and tool users that need to sharpen flat objects to go to their local glass shop and see what they can do.  A little super 77 spray adhesive to stick the paper down, and a sharpie, and you are in business.

Saw Sharpening Vise

My Summer Saw Stravaganza! began with a lovely saw bench pair, and will continue with this saw vice.  It is used to clamp a saw very near its teeth during sharpening.  The design is similar to a number of others out there, but with dimensions that matched the scraps I had around.

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The long pieces will contact the saw.  I wanted them proud of the side plates to allow for more clearance for sharpening files, and depth for big saws.  To align them during clamping I used my rabbet plane to make a shallow alignment recess.

Once both halves were glued up I took a rough plane and did some shaping.  The bottom cleat was relieved at the top so I could get a taller saw in, and to make sure it pivots at the bottom.  The top got a lot of rounding and relief to help the files have clearance.  Lastly, the inside of the top jaws was sloped to make sure that the clamp engages at the very top, right below where the teeth will be.

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I love hand tools for doing stuff like this.  This is a rough jig and doesn’t require everything to look perfect.  I can grab a plane and shave a little here and a little there.  To help support saw teeth close to the handle I had to cut a number of notches out of the one side.  It was mostly setup for by biggest rip saw, but should help accommodate all my saws.

I am happy with the results.  This could operate as is, but I have seen people nail a strip of leather across the bottom to help act as a hinge.  I used really light leather, so it doesn’t help much, but it should improve alignment while clamping.  Before the leather went on I hit it with a coating of boiled linseed oil.  Up next I will take some of my saws and attempt to refurbish them.

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Small Blade Sharpening Jig

I recently picked up a Stanley no 45 plane.  It has a lot of different blades associated with it.  They can make beads, coves, fancy edges, and all sorts of shapes.  The trick is that you have to sharpen each one by hand.  There really isn’t much in the way of jigs to do the sharpening for you.  That having been said, I did have an idea of how to help.  A clamp that holds the small blades firmly, and indicates the angle used for sharpening.  Finished product first!

DSC_0163There is a long half the drops down into my vice, and a mobile half the opens up and lets me position the blade to be sharpened.  I cut the top edges to 35 and 40 degrees.  They help provide a loose guide while sharpening.  It still comes down to your skill on sharpening, but it should keep me from getting too out of whack.


The build

I started with two pieces of oak and cut their ends to the proper angle.  In reality, I cut the wrong angles because I used the numbers on the miter saw.  Oops, I needed 90 degrees minus that number.  The correct angles show up in later photos.

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Next I drilled an offset hole for a 1/4″-20 bolt and threaded handle.  My hope was that It would be enough to hold a single blade with out rotating too badly once clamped.

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If at first you don’t succeed destroy all evidence you ever tried.  I guess by posting this I am not following that rule.  I grabbed a piece of scrap oak, glued it to the inside of the clamp opposite where the blade will be, and shaved it down to the blade thickness.  Low and behold the extra little part helps keep the clamp aligned and gripped firmly across the face of the blade.  I played with it a bit and am happy with the results.  Marking the angles will help me set the primary bevel and micro-bevel without confusion.  Boiled linseed oil should keep the wood protected.