I've been reading (researching) this post and am a NEW member. I'm used to doing millwork and stuff and have done a lot of things on shapers mainly, but also moulders and all manner of wood products manufacturing. I've worked with wood ever since I made a coaster car out of scraps of 2x4's and skinned my behind when it came apart on me halfway down the hill!
Long story short, I'm now pushing 70 and still playing with wood.
I know how much more pleasureable it is to use tools that are clean and Sharp! I need to know the recommended grits that I need to hone my tools to the fine edge that you fellows obviously know how to achieve and thanks in advance for heading me down the right path.
Wet/dry paper, i like the Rhynowet Redline brand, in grits ranging from 220 (to start on really rough edged) up to 2500 grit (final bit of mirror polish). Dont succumb to the urge to skip grits steps either, it doesnt work well. For a beat-up old chisel or whatnot your start at 220, then 320-400-800-1000-2000-2500. For something that still has a decent edge, you could very easily start at 400 or 800, and work up from there.
Youll also need a flat surface to attach the paper to. Some guys recommend a cutoff from a granite counter, but theres no guarantee that that will be flat. You might get lucky, and depending on how friendly your local stone-cutter is you might get it free, but personally id rather spend $20 and KNOW its flat:
Overkill? Massively, but worth it. Dead flat surface, damn near indestructible, plus it wont move around while youre sharpening on it. Countertop piece will work fine, mind you, but if youre like me and live right next to a Grizzly showroom, why not?
Chisels, plane blades and the like also benefit from having a precise and repeatable way to set the angle for sharpening. By hand might work for the old-timers, but i prefer jigs. I like the Veritas jig:
Pricey, but again makes the process so much better. There are cheaper jigs out there, but none (that i know of) that make setting the angle quite as quick and easy.
So, to surmise, to start sharpening youll need:
- Few different grits of wet/dry sandpaper
- Flat surface to stick the sandpaper to
- Way to set the edge angle
Really you could get yourself set up to sharpen with sandpaper for about $20. Even with all the fancy bits that make everything nicer but arent necessary, youll still come out cheaper than one of those fancy diamond plates