Sometimes I think I've gotten pretty good at sharpening, but sometimes I feel like I'm just OK. While I'm sticking with my system of three diamond stones and a strop, I am open to suggestions and read a fair amount about it.
Steve Branam of the Close Grain blog did a two-part blog in June called "Two Stones and a Strop". In these posts he presents a method of sharpening based on writings of Charles Hayward from "The Woodworker". As part of the method, Branam introduces a simple angled block of wood to help hold the chisel or plane iron at the proper angle.
Up until I read that, I've used either a clear plastic 30-60-90 drafting triangle or a bevel gauge to guide my angle. I knew that had limitations. I would place the iron on the bevel gauge's blade (which is set at 30°) and try to keep that angle as I move from the bevel gauge to the sharpening stone, but it's anybody's guess how much I've moved in the process.
|My former angle setting method|
|Iron set in bevel gauge|
|Holy crap! I'm probably sharpening 2-5° too high an angle!|
I really liked Steve Branam's idea of the angled wooden block, so I made one at 30°.
|Branam's angle jig sitting on diamond stone|
|Proper angle. Ready, set, sharpen.|
|Action shot - I've got the block (and iron) angled here|
|Scratch pattern not even close to the edge|
As long as I'm on sharpening, I have a beef with the Veritas honing guide that I use for 5/8" and smaller chisels. It's virtually impossible to clamp the chisel down tight enough that it won't move, and it's equally difficult to set the chisel so the edge is sharpened at 90°.
|Veritas honing guide sans rubber pad|
|I removed this rubber pad today|
|Hoping the edges of this guide are square to its width|
|Aligning blade with square|
Well, through it all I got my chisels and plane irons sharpened. Got decent end grain pine shavings.
|Proof is in the shaving|