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I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation on a sharpening system? I've always used stones in the past, but seem to be losing my touch. I've seen some of the "systems" at Woodcraft, but some seem very expensive. Are they worth it? Would've mind spending a few bucks, but 6 or 8 hundred is out of the question. Mostly chisels, planes and knives.

Blue
 

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I have been carving wood for a decade or so. Really good tools need a tune-up (honing) about every 30 minutes of steady use. I sharpen tools for other people. I can and have changed gouges into different edges. All the same to me. I have a Stanley/Bailey #5 and some spokeshaves that can do 500 yards in birch before a tune-up.It is a black day when I ever have to start with anything coarser that 800 grit. How about you?

I'm guessing that you're doing free-hand sharpening. Yes? If so, welcome to the club.
When you make a fine "pull stroke", are your elbows locked to your sides? Do you stop and lift?
Maybe rolling your arms up in a little sweep that rounds off the edges? Have you a means to keep the same bevel angle through the entire process? Do you know the needed bevel angle for that edge to do the job?

I've looked at the various machines and tried not to puke at the prices. At the same time, I wonder how bad an edge must be to need to use such things. It can all be done by hand.
Paint the bevel with black felt marker and watch where and when the metal comes off.
I've learned to hold a very rigid posture. I have "angle cards" for positioning ( terrible at angle estimation.)
 

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John
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I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation on a sharpening system? I've always used stones in the past, but seem to be losing my touch. I've seen some of the "systems" at Woodcraft, but some seem very expensive. Are they worth it? Would've mind spending a few bucks, but 6 or 8 hundred is out of the question. Mostly chisels, planes and knives.

Blue
I've never been able to master a decent, reliable sharpening technique. Try as I might, I almost always ended up with at least two (on a good day) noticeably different bevels on the blade.
A couple of years ago I invested a couple of hundred bucks in a Worksharp and I finally have some serviceable blades. :smile:
 

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Old Methane Gas Cloud
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If you ask 10 woodworkers what is the best sharpening system, you'll get about 37 different answers.

So here is my $3 worth.

There are three parts to sharpening; flattening, shaping and keen edge.

Flattening the back can be done with wet or dry sand paper, 3M 77 spray adhesive, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner and any perfectly flat surface. (Granite and glass are the best flat surfaces.) You will only do this once for any tool. You will want to go as fine as 8000 grit.

Shaping is usually done on a wheel. You usually get a hollow grind as the desired angle for the bevel. The slower the wheel the better and a wet grind is best. (Wet = $$$)

Finally, the keen edge is done with water stones. Starting with 1200 grit and going as high as 8000 grit. Yes, after using my Tormek I go through 4 grits of water stones.

When all is said and done, you're looking at about $800-$900.

If your bevel is reasonably close to the desired angle, then you probably can get by with a flat surface, sand paper and one of those wheel jigs to hold the tool at the correct bevel angle.

With a chisel, just a couple degrees of bevel angle can make all the difference in the world in chisel performance. During use, the frequency of the chisel being honed contributes directly to the life of the keen edge. When the hone will no longer restore the keen edge, a pass across the water stones will restore the keen edge.
 

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A worksharp is really great for plane irons and chisels, and will probably work great on knives (never tried that, personally). It's one of the better bargains in powered sharpening. You kight find a used wet wheel at a good price. I noticed the used Tormek are bringing less (the older models) and they are fantastic...though a new one is still priced like platinum. But for sharpening on the cheap, I still think the "scary sharp" is about as good as it gets...and it's great for chisels and plane irons. I have tried knives on scary sharp and could never get it to work, though others seem to have a lot of success with it.
 

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I'm loving my diamond stones, and the technique Paul Sellers is advocating works well for me. He doesn't even try to get a flat bevel, just a controlled curve. As far as I'm concerned it's quick, it's easy, and it's reliable. It may or may not work for anyone else.
 

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There are large variety of methods, hence no surprise to see a variety of different replies.

I happen to use the Worksharp 3000 with the toolbar accessory and Tormek jigs for most of my turning tools, and flat chisels.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f6/using-tormek-gigs-work-sharp-3000-a-39581/

For my hand plane blades I use a Veritas honing guide and abrasives.
http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=51868&cat=1,43072,43078&ap=1

For plane restorations the blades are normally dull or previously butchered so I start with diamond plates then move onto dry abrasive paper for the higher grits.

I use the same Veritas jig for my skew chisel, just needs a separate jig to set the angle.
http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=53974&cat=1,43072,43078&ap=1
 

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The one single thing which is common to all the above posts:
Everybody found a sharpening system (eventually) and used it and learned it.
They puddled around and stuck with it.
Clearly, there are many ways to get it done and they all work very well.

I have 9 crooked carving knives. Maybe $200+? And, I use them a lot.
I get "carving sharp" edges for less than $5. Believe me, it took time
and effort to figure out how to do it. I can hone after 1500 grit and then it's "play-time!"

I think that a real advantage of a power system is that they lend themselves
to sharpening all kinds of edges.
 

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master sawdust maker
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I see the plumes of colorful smoke exiting the cracks in the seal of Pandora's box as it is slowly being opened!!:gun_bandana:
 
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