Monday, April 02, 2007

Wet stones and good blades

I had thought that shaving the back of your arm with a plane blade was an urban myth, perpetuated by the Old Woodworkers to make us new guys feel perpetually inadequate.

However, in search of sharpness, I bought some high carbon plane blades from Hock Tools and a set of Ice Bear Waterstones from Axminster. (Nice fast delivery on both counts)

So I spent the time flattening the back of the blade, then honing the front till I found the burr, then removing the burr.

And there you go. It lifted a few hairs from the back of my arm, not quite up to Gillette's standard, but sharper than anything I've managed previously.

I am converted. My old wet and dry paper collection will now be reserved for flattening the wetstones. I've already ordered a course 220 grit wetstone to do the back of the cheaper blades, which have far move visible machine marks.


Vic. said...

Hey Dave, how's it going ?
I see your doing some more sharpening... what happen to your "scary sharp" method ?
Did it take to long..? it seemed to me (after checking out your Scary Sharp link) that it might be quite time consuming.

I didn't understand the curve with string & pen thing... could you elaborate ?


Rational Root said...

I've added detail to that post. Does that explain it a little better ?

Also, scary sharp was proving slow. I think the water stones cut faster - maybe I should have bought more expensive wet and dry paper. 8-)

Vic. said...

"I see!" Said the blind man to his deaf wife as he was reaching for his hammer.... ;-)

Very good idea. I saw something similar on the web somewhere but, he didn't use the pen and string to bend the battan... just 3 clamps... one on each end and one in the middle.

Keith said...

Hi Dave:

Glad to see you are a proponent of waterstones. Seems like many folks are afraid to go this route.

Keith (

Rational Root said...

I would recommend trying something mechanical to flatten the back of the chisels initially... Rexon do a flat waterstone grinder.

It's a whole lot of trouble to set it up for a sharpening, but flattening the back first time round takes way too long by hand.