very craftsman who works with Japanese tools dreams of owning high-quality blades forged bv a great blacksmith. It's important to remember that these high-quality tools need high-quality sharpening to perform at their best. Even lower-quality tools will perform well if they are sharpened correctly. In this article, I'll explain how to sharpen plane blades and chisels. I will talk mainly about Japanese tools, but Japanese and Western blades are sharpened basically the same way. Once you understand how Japanese tools are sharpened you will also understand how to sharpen Western tools. Let's begin with the sharpening stones themselves.
Sharpening Stones—There are two kinds of sharpening stones—
natural and man-made. Natural stones are cut from quarries in Japan and other parts of the world. Man-made stones are manufactured from either crushed natural stone or svnthetic abrasives. Both natural stones and w man-made stones arc available as either water stones or oilstones. Japanese tools are traditionally sharpened with water stones.
/When I was a young apprentice in Japan, in the 1940s, there weren't any good man-made * sharpening stones for woodworking. Natural stones were available, but there were many levels of quality. It was difficult to tell, just by looking, whether a stone was a lemon or a peach. As an apprentice, I could rely on the knowledge of my master and other craftsmen before purchasing a stone. Most Westerners, unfortunately, do not have this opportunity. making it risky to buy a natural stone. Quality varies considerably, and there's rcallv no scientific
Author Toshio Odate sharpens a plane blade on the floor of his shop in traditional Japanese fashion The tools and techniques for sharpening Japanese blades apply to Western tools as wen.
way to judge a natural stone until you use it.
Fortunately there is an excellent selection of quality man-made water stones on the market today, and these are the stones I recommend. King- and Suehiro-hrand waters tones are wide In available in a range ol grits from coarse 200X to 400X "green stones" for restoring a worn or damaged edge, to \ei v fine 8000X finishing stones. I also use an Arashiyama brand 800GX finishing stone. It's made from crushed natural stone and is a little softei than the other brands.
I like to use as many grits as possible when I sharpen mv tools, but vou can usual I\ get awa\ with a set ol four water stones. A set could be 400X. 600X. 1000X and 6000X or 400X. 800X. I200X and 8000X
Japanese Blades—Japanese tools and Western tools are sharpened in basically the same way, but the methods to produce the blades are quite different, fhe Japanese plane blade is laminated with a ver\
Plane blades and chisels have thin, hard steel welded to soft steel
Hold the plane blade in your right hand with the index finger extended. Place the first three or four fingers of your left hand in the space between the right thumb and index finger. Place the left thumb under the blade. The palm of your hand should not be touching the blade. Keep the bevel steady as you rub back and forth on the stone. ▼ ►
Follow this sharpening procedure for a blade that is badly damaged, worn or chipped. If your blade is just dull, and the ura—the flat area at the cutting edge on the back side of the blade—remains (see Fig. I), you can skip Steps 1 through 3 and go directly to Step 4.
1. Carefullv flatten the back ot the blade with f»
carborundum powder and water on a flat steel lapping plate, (called ttraoshi orkatiabott) as explained on page 29.
2. When the back is flat, restore the bevel angle and remove any chips by honing the bevel on a coarse 200X to 400X "green stone." Hold plane blades as shown in the photo at top right. Hold chisels as shown in the photo at right. When the bevel angle is right and the chips are gone, wash the blade.
3. Hone the bevel on a oOOX or 800X stone until the onlv burr that remains is small and even. Wash the blade well.
4. Hone the bevel on a 100DX to 1200X stone. When the bevel is flat, wash the blade well.
5. Hone the bevel on a 6000X stone until it is completely polished and flat.
6. Rub the flat back of the blade on the 6000X stone to remove the burr and straighten out the edge. Hold the blade as shown in the photos (at right) and press the bevel evenly. Rub 20 to 30 times with the back completely flat on the stone. Alternate between bevel and back until no burr remains and the cutting edge is straight.
7. For a sharper edge, repeat Steps 5 and 6 on an 8000X finishing stone.
A Hold chisels at an angle to
_ the length of the stone to keep the bevel from rocking. Apply pressure with the index and second finger of your left hand.
Was this article helpful?
There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.