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sharpening chisels and hand planes

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  • sharpening chisels and hand planes

    I have a set of sharpening stones from coarse to fine.
    I am cognizant of the need for sharpening at the correct angle, I have a holder to do that...

    my questions:

    I know they sell a stone sharpening oil but it seems hard to locate and can be expensive. I wonder what other types of oil are acceptable to use?
    I know you don't want motor oil so don't even go there, but I wonder about lite oils such as air tool oil or vegetable oils?

    When can just plain water be ok to use?

    I do notice when I see demonstrations the oil stays visible/ on the stone and you sharpen through it. On my stones the oil sometimes just gets sucked up into the that a problem?

    Is there anyway to clean the stone after you use it? or do you only replace the stone when it's no longer true and flat?

    Any tips will be appreciated.

    Marty aka cactus man in Arizona

  • #2
    Need to know a few things about your stones. What type are they? IE Japanese Water, Arkansas oil stones, diamond impregnated, the cheap gray ones? You say you have course to fine, can you define that a bit better, like grit size maybe.
    You can clean dirty oil stones by gently boiling them in water and spic & span. Put a rag in the bottom of the pan to keep the stone off the direct heat put the stones in before you start to boil and let the pot cool naturally, if you drop the stones into boiling water you may crack them with the thermal shock, same goes for cooling in cold water.
    I have also heard that the dish washer works wonders but make sure the rinse agent is empty.
    I use Japanese water stones myself so my experience with oil stones is limited to what I read before I decided on what system to go with.
    Straight kerosene might be a bit light for honing oil, you may want to mix it 50/50 with mineral oil. Not sure what you think is expensive but LV sells a pint of honing oil for $9. A pint would go a long, long way


    • #3
      I ran out of honing oil one time and used some air tool oil, stayed with it because it works great. Make sure you have oil stones and not water stones, water stones are just that, use water on them. I clean my oil stones with mineral spirits and set them in the sun to dry out. To reflatten used stones get a piece of glass and lay a sheet of sandpaper on it grit up. Lubricate with oil or water depending on stone type and work the stone in a circular motion with even pressure. This will flatten them to new condition. You may need to use a few different grits of paper on them depending on how bad of shape they are in and finish with a fine grit.
      info for all: --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."


      • #4
        uh-oh! I'm really not sure if the stones I have are water or oil type!
        I'll rummage through my catalogs to see if I can determine what I have.
        I suspect that one set of stones require oil.

        As far as the actual grit...all the information I have is coarse, medium, and fine.

        Yes, I also have one of the grey stones with a medium on one side and coarse on the other. I believe they are harbor freight on sale stones.

        I have seen some diamond type stones ...or whatever their official names are. I also know those can be used with water.

        I recall on the DYI network on the tool and technique show they had a segment on sharpening stones. The fellow demonstrating them used water on the diamond stone and oil on the others.



        • #5
          Marty, if they work the way you have been using them, then just keep going the same way. LOL Sharpening stones will get clogged up with dirt and metal fragments so you should clean them to keep them working right. Mineral spirits/paint thinner will do a great job of cleaning them for you.
          info for all: --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."


          • #6
            Maybe I'm abusing my stone.....
            I have an old Arkansas oil stone from my Dad that he's had since .... Probably got it in the 40's after the war. He's never used honing oil on it. It's always been household oil or vegetable. Whatever's handy. It still works great, and it's actually pretty clean. It's sharpened a whole lot of things!!!
            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.


            • #7
              Mineral oil is ok but vegetable oil will go rancid and may start growing things in your stone, a light machine oil is fine too. The key is light oil, not too thin like wd40 and not too thick like motor oil, somewhere in between is what you want


              • #8
                Which is better?

                What is the advantage of one type of stone over the other?
                Yoroshiku onegai shimasu


                • #9
                  Sharpening stones are like automobiles, everyone has their favorite type and all have their differences.

                  Japanese Water stones are delicate and wear very fast. However, because their surface dissolves into a paste, they can be found in grits to 1000 or even 2000. This is the smoothness to really polish the edge of a plane iron or fine chisel. (or a Samauri Hiragana or Katagana if that's your bent)

                  Oil stones (Arkansas stones or Washita stones are commonly considered the best) can put a fine usable edge on irons and chisels, and will last longer before requiring flattening. Rather than denoted by "grit", they are usually categorized as soft, medium and hard, (or white, mottled, and black) with the hard (black) being the finest stone. They are becoming harder to find in any size, but work well with "oil" or water. They need to be cleaned, (see previous posts) and the best method is to let them soak in the lubricant when not in use to fully saturate the stone.

                  Carborundum stones are usually coarser but are great for getting a very dull, chipped, or pitted edge to the correct angle. They are also a lot cheaper. If you don't want to chance burning the temper out of a blade with a motorized wheel, they will get the correct bevel relatively quickly. Soaking them will greatly reduce the lubricant needed.

                  Diamond sharpeners are metal with a coating of industrial diamond. They vary in price. The cheaper ones (as found in Lowe's and HD) are perforated metal on a plastic back. The grit ( coarse - about 80g, medium, about 150g, and fine, about 750 grit ) on the cheaper ones is not consistent (especially on the edges) and they are not flat. Most say "Do Not Use Petroleum Based Lubricant" as it dissolves the plastic. They also are not flat and cannot be flattened. They do work well with water as an alternative for the carborundum stones, and for small items, are usually flat enough to get a usable edge. I have no experience with the higher priced ones from makers like Veritas, etc.

                  The "scary sharp" system (search the internet) uses a flat surface (plate glass, marble, table saw top, etc) on which common wet-dry sandpaper is "glued" (just wet the back or use spray adhesive) and water or oil is used as a lubricant. Going to 1000 or 2000 grit (found in automotive stores) will give a very sharp, polished edge. Its cheap in the short run, but the cost of wet/dry paper is going up, so may not be cheaper if you use chisels or planes very much. You must be very careful not to let any grit or other debris get under the paper when "gluing" it down.

                  THe above is based on internet research (Japanese Waterstones) and personal experience (the rest) For my chisels and plane irons, I use both the scary sharp and some arkansas stones I purchased years ago for finishing. I had to flatten the arkansas stones because they were not truly flat when purchased. I do have a medium and fine cheap diamond set, which I use to get things close. My carborundum stones I use mainly for machetes, bush axes, and other coarse cutting tools. For my chopping axes, I finish them with the arkansas stones. My "bench" stones, used during a project using chisels and planes, are my arkansas stones (I just seem to get a better edge with them). I also use a felt buffing wheel with "tripoli" compound as the final step when I purchase a new chisel or iron (none come from the store as sharp or flat as is needed). For knives, I use the arkansas stones (getting close with the diamond first if they are in bad shape)

                  For lubricant, air tool oil is great, but I have also used 5w-30 motor oil cut 50% with diesel fuel, and have not had any problems with WD40. The bottom line is you want something that will float away the metal ground off with being so thick that it doesn't let the edge get to the grit. The finer the stone, the thinner (in viscosity) the lubricant needs to be. A note of caution on using water on "oil" stones. If you don't wash the stone after use (dishsoap and an abrasive pad works great with a thorough rinsing), the ground metal will form rust on the surface, which is much harder to clean off (ie, mineral spirits won't do it). You may need an acid based cleaner to get this off if you have a stone with this condition.

                  I haven't used the ceramic sharpeners so can't comment about them.

                  My $.02. There's probably as many opposing opinions as there are readers of this forum. My suggestion is: Try what you can afford 'til you find what works for you.
                  Practicing at practical wood working