Assuming I'm sharpening a dull, used tool... I'm likely going to need all 3 of those things depending on the tool. Coarse grit sandpaper to flatten it and knock off any rust, a grinder to form the bevel, and a stone to sharpen and polish the bevel (course and fine grit stones). I then finish with a strop for a super sharp and polished finish (this is really optional tho, I did fine without it for some time). I use this system mostly on my hand planes and chisels, but works for pretty much anything - knives, scrapers, etc.
I have wetstones for the middle step and I am far from in love with the process. They're messy and I need to soak them for 15 minutes before using them, however I never know I need them until I grab the tool and realize it needs a quick tune-up, and they wear pretty fast too. I'm going to invest in some diamond stones for that middle step next.
I was using several water stones which I found were never messy when mounted properly.
However, I switched from european style carving tools to Pacific Northwest Fisrt Nations carving tools.
I'm guessing 5-7 years ago.
Crooked knives and various adzes and planer knives. They all have sweeps = curved, not straight, edges.
I use all sorts of rods and pipes with 3M fine automotive wet&dry finishing sandpapers (600, 8000, 1000, 1200 and 1500 grits)
for sharpening. In fact, for the adzes you see in my avatar, I use tennis balls for mandrels.
I was taught freehand sharpening. From my knees, not from my elbows.
Never looked at any other system.
It all depends upon the condition that the tool is in and what the tool is used for. I do not use a grinder for much other than lawnmower blades and tools that are in very rough shape., which I seldom see.
Various old whetstones, some dry, some with honing oil. Some are old "Arkansas" whetstones.
A "Crock Stick" sharpener uses two ceramic rods shaped in a "V". The rods insert into holes in the wood storage base. Easy, fast, works great.
Q and A:
Q: Why do you have so many different ways to sharpen things?
A: Historical reasons. I acquired the various sharpeners over decades. Most of the time, I bought the sharpener when I got the tool that needed it. I bought the Grizzly wet grinder when I got HSS turning tools and needed a way to sharpen the rounded edges.
Q: Why sharpen your hand plane blades and chisels on diamond stones when you have a Grizzly wet grinder?
A: Good question. I bought the diamond stones before the Grizzly wet grinder, and I still need the diamond stones to flatten the backs of those tools. Furthermore, I have not yet decided whether I want to put a hollow grind on my hand plane blades and chisels. It would save a lot of time to use the Grizzly. There is no reason not to switch, other than pride, wanting a flat grind, and perhaps a sense of tradition.
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