Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sharpening Bench

I've posted about my sharpening bench before but because it is so important to efficient work I'm adding a update. Of all the tools and appliances in the shop the sharpening bench is second only to the main work bench and is located just off the left end of the main bench, just a step or two away.

The sharpening bench was the first work bench I built. At the time I hadn't a clue, I had started reading Fine Woodworking and knew I needed a wood working bench but couldn't afford a ready made. I don't know if you have seen very many Russian airplanes, if not you may not understand the reference, The bench is like a Russian airplane, if you didn't look too hard it looked somewhat like a wood working bench. I made it out of SYP because that was all I could find, not knowing that CS would many years later make a SYP bench fashionable. Bottom line over the years it has worked well in several different shop roles, the last being as a sharpening bench.

I've tried many configurations for the sharpening bench, just the primary stones on top of the bench, both oil and water stones on either end, even at one time having a Tormek on the bench. What I've settled on is just the primary use stones along with the primary strop, horse butt leather with green stuff, on the bench and all other stones stored in cabinets above the bench.

In the stone pond are my goto stones a med India and a Translucent Arkansas oil stone, Sometimes I will change from the Translucent to a Hard Black Arkansas. The Translucent has a better "feel" than the Hard Black, it has a little "tooth" where the Hard Black is slicker than snot. Scratch pattern and speed between the two are about the same. Go figure. Right now there are a couple of Spyderco stones sitting between the Arkansas stones because yesterday I had to sharpen one of the few A2 irons in the shop. The Spyderco's will return to the oil stone cabinet soon. On the far right you may be able to see a diamond lapping plate, I used it the other day to lap and re-fresh some oil stones Ralph at the accidental woodworker blog was kind enough to send me. The lapping plate will also return to its place in the oil stone storage cabinet above the bench.

The oil stone storage cabinet also stores misc junk and several (way too many) honing guides.

In a separate cabinet to the right are my water stones, man made stones on the bottom shelf and natural Japanese water stones on the top shelf.

It has taken time to get to this point, the old story of kissing frogs, but for now unless I get another bright idea to try this is my basic sharpening set up.

If interested click 'em to big 'em.



  1. If I hadn't read with my own eyes, that you wrote you like to sharpen, I would think that you need to get into a 12 step program. "...hi, my name is Ken and I am OCD about sharpening...."

  2. Ralph,

    Guilty as charged :-). While I enjoy sharpening there is no love of initial prep of the back, shear drudgery.

    I've learned to keep several beater chisels around for late night "let's sharpen something because I'm bored" to save steel on my good chisels.

    One of the main things I've learned after much sharpening and testing is type of stone makes no never mind to the level of sharpness, the big differences are in speed, mess, and fiddleness but stone type and/or stropping can help in edge longevity. It's all in the scratch pattern.

    For my set of needs and wants oil stones hit most of the sweet spots, others will find diamond and/or water stones work better. Other than feel of the stone Spyderco stones can come close to the best of oil and water. I will go back and forth but usually end up using oil stones for day to day sharpening.


  3. Wow, and I thought I had a problem accumulating tools :-) You have quite the impressive waterstones collections there...

    Im similar, I have tried much of everything, but I did not collect as many specimens as you did :-)

    Hang on to the Spiderco, some steel just laugh at oil and watersones but are no match for Ceramics... Go figure, similarly I like diamonds, but not for everything. I like subconsciously (IE after a few beers :-) to match the Scratch patterns to the job at hand. Less is more...

    Bob, back from the city watching the Tall ships

  4. Bob,

    What is embarrassing and I didn't show it is the top shelves of the oil stone cabinet have even more stones mostly old water stones. It is a sickness, a sickness I say.

    I figured with just one life to live I wanted to at least try most everything. I've come pretty close.