Monday, January 7, 2013

I was Wrong!

No, this isn't about shavehorses, let's be serious.
As I have been working on the manuscript for the book, I've been coming across all sorts of interesting things. I finally have the perfect excuse to jump down the rabbit hole on lots of topics and follow some long held assumptions to their logical end.
As I have been working through the sharpening details, I've found that I've been doing something wrong, or at least didn't know the right way, for years.

I've used diamond stones, paddles and hones for a long time. They are durable, cut fast and stay nice and flat. But I've never trusted them to finish the job, that is, remove the burr and leave a sharp edge.
What I recently learned is that I've been using them wrong.
Unlike waterstones, which have particles that break down in use and then serve to polish the edge to a higher degree, diamonds are more like sandpaper. Like sandpaper, diamonds can only take so much pressure before you are simply wasting pressure and scratching the surface up with the trapped shavings (called swarf).  I found out long ago that a light touch is the key to sanding, letting the tiny edges take the cut that they were meant to and clearing the swarf often. Since I've applied the same idea to diamonds, my results are far beyond my expectations.

I don't know what it is about diamonds that made me want to bear down on them, perhaps it was the knowledge that they are so hard, or perhaps I just miss seeing the clear black marks that the steel makes on my waterstones that let's me know that they are working. Whatever it is, it took a leap of faith to use them lightly. As Greg Pennington says, use them like you are sharpening a feather.

I've been sharpening my drawknives with a new technique (teaser) that uses diamonds and the results are much improved. I still finish with a few strokes of the strop, but the burr is basically already gone.
See, admitting you are wrong isn't so hard...


Glen Rundell said...

Aww crap. That means I'm wrong too. Ahh well you live and learn Pete! Keep keep up the good work mate,
Cheers Glen

Anonymous said...

H*ll if you are only wrong once your way ahead of me.

mitchwilson said...

I don't get it, Pete. In your last posting, you said that you were right.

Peter Galbert said...

Nope, I'm wrong most of the time, but I try to stick around long enough to get over it, not that I always do!

Robert said...

Speak for yourself :) I would say that you found a better way and you were not necessarily wrong.
Thank you for sharing this because your sharpening post made me think of sanding.
I guess today is two for Tuesday.
Have a great one and good luck with your book.

Unknown said...

Now you just need to learn to say "Sorry". :) I still have trouble with that one.

I also learned that when flattening your water stones with a diamond plate that if you press too hard then the swarf from the stone will cut loose your diamonds from the steel plate. I don't know if the steel swarf will do this but seems possible.

thekiltedwoodworker said...

Thanks for the advice on the diamond stones! I'll start paying attention to how much pressure I'm using next time and see if I need to let up a bit on it.

Oh! Does this mean we can start using our diamond stones in place of sandpaper?

Harry said...

I've been teased since Jan. 30 2012;)

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matsukaze said...

A drop of dish soap helps a bunch to lubricate and suspend steel particles too! Nice post.