Buying tools for a workshop is, sadly, not enough. For a woodworker’s work to be effective and relaxing, you need to take care of your tools, maintain them, and, above all, sharpen.
After reading this article, you will know how to sharpen your chisels so that the surface of the wood you’re working on is smooth and shiny like a mirror.
STEEL TYPES AND SHARPENING
Steel is an alloy of iron, carbon and other elements and chemical compounds. The chemical Composition of the steel alloy directly affects its properties.
- CHROME – limits the corrosion process ;
- SILICONE AND VANADA – strengthen the steel structure ;
- MANGANESE – increases the hardness and brittleness of steel.
If steel contains this type of admixture in large quantities, it will be referred to as ALLOY STEEL (also called tool steel). However, if the Composition is dominated by carbon content, we are dealing with NON-ALLOY (carbon) STEEL, the characteristic feature of which is extraordinary hardness and lack of corrosion resistance, which creates a need for additional protection.
The hardness of steel is marked using the Rockwell scale and HRC values. In the case of chisels, it will range from 52 to 68 HRC. The harder the steel, the sharper the blade, but sharper blades also require much more care and attention. When properly sharpened, the chisel will retain its properties for longer. Sharpening carving chisel it’s effective work.
There are many whetstones and other means to sharpen steel on the market. In order to make your choice easier, below are some basic types, taking into account their advantages and disadvantages.
- OIL STONES (NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC)
These are whetstones with the longest tradition in craftsmanship. Arkansas stones for sharpening have been included in this group since the second half of the 20th century. Their main advantage, being also a disadvantage, is the very high hardness. On the one hand, thanks to it, the stone deteriorates very slowly and does not require frequent Regeneration, on the other, it grinds very slowly too, which requires a lot of patience from the user.
Oil stones, as the name suggests, require oil that preserves the chisel blade and does not expose it to corrosion, which is very likely when water is used. All oil stones can be used for both alloy and non-alloy steel. You can also sharpen HSS and stainless steels on Arkansas stones.
- WATER STONES (NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC)
They are sharpening tools very similar to the oil stones discussed above (in both cases, the abrasive is usually corundum, i.e. aluminium oxide or silicon carbide), but they differ in the binding material. In the case of natural and synthetic water stones, it is softer and finer, which causes faster abrasion and the need for more frequent Regeneration. However, using a whetstone of this type gives faster results. The purpose of synthetic and natural water stones is mainly non-alloy steel.
- DIAMOND WHETSTONES
They’re composed of diamond dust applied to a metal plate. Their characteristic feature is their extraordinary hardness. Despite this, they sharpen very quickly, do not require any Regeneration, do not lose shape and will serve you for a very long time. It is recommended to use them with water, but with smaller stones, dry sharpening is allowed. However, all the advantages listed here carry a big price, which may seem like a big disadvantage in of itself to many.
However, when one takes into account the fact that there’s no need to buy any Additional accessories for diamond whetstones, their price does not seem as steep any more. Remember that when using diamonds, considerably less pressure should be used. In order to maintain their properties for years, even over a decade, regularly clean the whetstone under running water.