Micro-bevel: only for speed and with guides - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-28-2012, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Micro-bevel: only for speed and with guides

So this has come up in mentions in other threads but not so directly to my knowledge... if it has feel free to redirect me---

Is a micro-bevel not purely for time saving (less material removed) and only realistic when using an angle guide?

My reasoning: I've heard that the micro-bevel is backed up by more blade, but would it not be backed up by more blade actually if that higher angle (say 30 degrees) were extended all the way behind it? If advocates are simply saying that 30 degrees is backed up more than a primary 25, then for what reason other than to save time would you not put 30 degree on the whole bevel?

And in regards to the guide: If you cannot keep the blade at precisely the same angle through the successive grits than don't you risk rounding the tip rather than adding a truly straight micro-bevel? (perhaps you just add it at the last grit?)

Also with a micro-bevel, when you re-hone the blade after some use, are you just re-honing the micro-bevel? How do you determine that precise angle with nothing for reference (like a toe and heel one would have with free-hand hollow grind or the larger flat of a single bevel)? If you use a guide, don't you still risk not loading the blade precisely in the same position, and in turn not the same micro bevel angle. I've seen suggestion for stops to set the guide, but why go through all this?

Perhaps its simply preference, but these complications seem less if you simply free-hand a single bevel (or for that matter even guide a single bevel). A hollow grind makes it so you are removing only the toe and heel which would help the time issue. I suppose once toe and heel are connected you are required to take off more material each sharpening and perhaps that is it?

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post #2 of 5 Old 01-28-2012, 08:41 PM
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Check out Rob Cosman on youtube...he shows a way to do it simply and explains it better than I can.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-28-2012, 08:57 PM
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Some good questions and I am not going to complicate the question by giving you the answer.

All I know is, that what I do gives me the results I am looking for and they are better than any of my more experienced friends can get.

So, I am not going to complicate the matter and overthink it until I see some body do it a lot better than I can then I will rethink my stratergy. How sharp do you want? I can get mine pretty sharp, that will do me.

Now, carving knives are a bit different for me as I am getting there but suspect not quite. Then carving gouges have me further down the pole, but i am still learning and looking for more professional results.

Once you have got your micro bevel done and you are happy and then use it for a while, you only have to redo the micro bevel. that is the beauty of the micro bevel in that you only have to worry about a small portion of the chisel or blade.

I just go back to my last and final polishing grit. if it is a water Stone then it is my 6000 grit. if I was using W&D paper it might be 1500 and then 2000 and if I feel real fancy and want to show off to a friend I might go to 2500. but that is overkill, and i doubt you will feel the difference on the wood.

Now with the micro bevel you have two choices set it up in the jig so that the Micro bevel is balanced on a perfectly flat surface like glass, MDF or Marble.

Then go to your preferred medium and you will find that you only have to give it about a dozen or so rubs, draging it backwoods so it does not dig into your stone or paper.

You can offcourse ignore the jig and do it by hand, many do, but you have to balance yourself and avoid a rocking motion, your elbows by your side helps.



Eventually, the micro bevel will get smaller and then you will have to go back to your stones or W&D and redo the primary Bevel and then a new Micro Bevel. But you will not have to go back to the grinding wheel again.

Going back to the stones might only be necessary, once a year or so, unless you mess up the Micro bevel. heck, it's all practice anyway.

Last edited by STAR; 01-28-2012 at 09:02 PM.
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-30-2012, 07:51 PM
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In addition to Rob Cossman, required reading for sharpening includes Leonard Lee, David Charlesworth on bench planes, Christopher Schwarz on chisels just to name a few. One writer took a four week course years ago and 1/2 of it was on sharpening. There is an excellent book from Popular Woodworking and 1/2 of THAT is on sharpening. There is a lot to this subject and plenty of room for differing opinions.

That said, almost everybody agrees that a micro bevel is a good idea for chisels and handplane irons. There are lots of theories about why you sharpen a secondary bevel but Christopher Schwarz states that polishing the entire bevel is just a waste of time: you can put a mirror edge on the much smaller secondary bevel much more quickly.
Angle of bevel is just a function of how far your chisel or plane iron sticks out of the sharpening jig. For a 30 degree bevel on your chisel, set your jig so that 1 1/4" projects out. For a 25 degree bevel, 1 5/8" and for a 20 degree bevel, 2 1/8". After you have set the jig and honed the primary bevel, shift the chisel back 1/4" to hone the secondary bevel, preferably on an 8000 grit or higher waterstone. Take the chisel out of the jig and push the "face" (the non beveled side which should already be flattened and polished) across that 8000 grit waterstone to remove the wire edge, flatten your waterstone and you are done.

David Charlesworth sharpens his plane irons with three bevels but he says that once he has that done, he can put a fresh edge on that iron in four minutes and that includes washing his hands afterwards. The principle of getting a specific angle of bevel is the same, but he uses a prop to establish the correct angle and the scribes that information on the iron. The picture shows how I am able to line up the jack plane iron I am working on to get the primary bevel of 23 degrees. The other two angles are 33 and 35 degrees.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-31-2012, 03:28 PM
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Thank you hand Tool GUy. You have explained it much better than I could.

I think, we are all on the same page, it is then really about consistently doing what we know is right so it becomes habit forming.

Once we take short cuts, especially in the learning stage, bad habits and inconsistencies creep in which lead to self doubt and then changes to a well defined system.

The results are then dissapointing.


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