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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been using scary sharp on my plane irons and chisels, and first went out and bought a granite slab, sharpening jig, and varieties of wet/dry paper from 220 to some thousand grit.

Using the jig took forever, and I even farmed out some of the first plane irons I had from Grandpa to a local sharpening service, as they were knicked up and I just couldn't cut through fast enough.

Since then, I've switched to freehand with a convex method I saw on some blog, and using WD40 to wet the paper after getting the idea from someone here. Now I can sharpen ebay finds and get knicks out quickly, but I'm mildly confused about why people go so high in grit on scary sharp... I'm finding the WD40 on 220 followed by an uncharged leather strop to be great, stick-to-your-finger-nail sharp.

So I realize that "what works for you is" good enough but I can't help but wonder what I'm missing as the benefit to the higher grits... I could see it maybe being easier to push the plane, but I'm already planing on a piece of countertop clamped in my jawhorse against a planing stop consisting of scrap clamped to the edge with crappy quick clamps... and it works. (some day the pile of SYP on my floor will be a proper bench, but not yet)

Anyhow: you fellows with stones higher than 220 grit or who do the paper higher than that... what benefit do you see in going up higher, apart from a pretty mirror finish?
 

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Master firewood maker
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i would think that, the smoother (more polished) the blade's edge is, the smoother the resulting surface would be, because the edge is more uniform.

also, my understanding is that the more polished edge lasts longer between sharpenings ... ?

when i started sharpening my blades, i tried sharpening them freehand, and my results were not good. i'm 100% sure that is NOT because hand sharpening is a bad method, but because i have not learned how to do it well.

then i started using a honing guide, and my blades were MUCH sharper.

i just use dry sandpaper, and go through 220-500-800-1500-3000. it is only a few swipes each on 800, 1500, and 3000 (probably an extra minute or 2) to get a mirror polish.
 

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A sharper blade cuts easier. On softer wood you may not notice, but on harder woods or wood with wild grain, the sharper the better.

A sharper blade on wild grain should have less tearout. Sarge240 has a bench build thread in the General Woodworking forum. He is using Doug Fir and had a lot of tearout issues.

I sent him a couple of planes which are sharpened to 2400 grit and he is getting much less tearout.

I know some folks sharpen to higher grit. As you said it depends on what works for each of us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That makes sense... I've been using the planes in lieu of a powered jointer or planer so many of them are set for coarse cuts, and I have actually been a little disappointed with my smoother plane's performance... I'll have to take him up the grits and see if that makes the difference.
 

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From time to time, my carving tools need a tuneup on a 4K water stone then the leather strop with chrome green.
Otherwise, I use 1500 grit W&D paper (dry) and chrome green for all the crooked knives and spokeshaves. This seems entirely adequate for carving in both softwoods (cedar/pine/spruce) and light hardwood such as birch.

If and when you develop a very fine, polished edge, I do agree that it should cut well. However, I'm thinking that such an edge is much more vulnerable to crumpling. Next, some woodworkers believe that the wood surface must be progressively shredded with sandpaper.

While the metal may appear polished, one peep through a 20X loupe and all you see is a scratched surface that you can't resolve with your buck-naked eyeballs.
 
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