sharpening with abrasive paper

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)
  • Author
  • #138805
    Joris Kempen

    since couple of months got interested in woodworking. read lot’s and also people doing lot’s with machinery. This was not my way to go, not the room for it and not interested in lot’s of machines. Paul Sellers really got my interest. I have his woodworking 1 & 2 book and been watching lot’s of videos.
    Was able to make some spatulas and wooden hammer/saw for my kid. Really cool stuf. But now my new bought chisels and spokeshave have become unworkable unsharp.

    My diamond plates are being ordered but in the meanwhile i wanted to try it with abrasive paper as seen in this video:

    Got a piece of glass, abrasive paper (240,400,600 hardware store budget paper, all they are selling and not even 600+ grit) and the Aldi chisel set.

    i tried paul’s method but got some remarks/questions:
    = my chisel is also only slightly hollow and i tried to get the 6mm paul is talking about on the backside of the chisel, but after hard hard work on the 240 grit all i get is a 1-2mm max of how i clean up the surface. Wrong technique? Not enough force? not enough time or bad abrasive paper?

    – i just continued on the 400 and 600 and hoped to get it sharp (i just making the strop right now, the leather is glued to the wood and drying overnight). But after 600 and done both sides (backside + bevel of the Aldi chisel) it doesnt really feel sharp. I can easily press my finger/thumb on it without directly cutting my self. If i would do some more pressure i would probably cut myself.
    IS it just because i only got to 600? Do the 1200+ and stropping make such big difference?

    I really hope it’s just the paper and it will be much sharper with the EZE diamont plates. All though Paul even get’s such good results with the abrasive paper, or is that just his experience.

    Richard Senior

    Fine india oilstones are only around 320 grit and you are finer than that with your papers. 400-600 should produce an edge that’s sharp enough for work, if not razor sharp.

    Are you getting a burr across the full width of the back of the blade when you hone the bevel? Only 1-2mm of polish on the back suggests you might need to do some more flattening but you are probably better waiting for the plates. If you are getting a burr, you are getting an edge.

    Have you tried the chisel on a piece of wood? Will it pare fine shavings? It might not slice through paper like a razor just yet but it ahould cut something like pine or spruce with ease.


    Sharp is sharp no matter the method. I would drop down to 120-150 grit and get a bit more flat on the back then work up your grits from there. On the bevel side, you need to work the 240 grit until you feel the just start to roll over onto the back. Now you have an edge. Pull the chisel back toward you on the flat side a couple of strokes to remove the burr on the highest grit that you finished the back flat side and then work your higher grits on the bevel again. Keep doing this until you feel a burr starting with each grit. It should come a little faster each higher grit you go.I usually go to 800 but many like to go higher. Whatever you choose then go to your strop and finish . Sharpening takes some practice to get good at it.Whatever method you choose, stick with it until you get good at it. Jumping around to different methods just makes it harder to master sharpening. Sometimes if you spend a bit of time with one method and it doesn’t seem to be working for you, try another way. That is why there are so many different methods.Not all ways work for all people.

    Joris Kempen

    Thanks for the good tips!
    Starters Rereading in paul’s book to really understand the method and terms like burr.
    Also noticed that paper is just ripping to soon. So i ordered the 3 eze lap plates and all other stuff to create a sharpening station!
    Will be update you when i’m working on that!

    Mic van Reijen


    Sounds like you’re working with substandard sandpaper. I went the same route as you did starting out on woodworking (also only recently), and got slightly hollow chisels at Gamma (local hardware store) of the cheap “OK!” brand. I stuck some 180 grit waterproof sandpaper on a piece of glass, poured water ovder it, and in 10 minutes or less I had the 5 or 6 mm needed. I then went on to the 400 and 800 and finally used some polish paste (if that’s the English word for fit) on an old newspaper. Same when sharpening the bevel. It slices through paper like a razor!

    The sandpaper is from a another hardware store and is a bit more expensive than the Gamma stuff, but it’s worth it. You’ll notice it’ll give more resistance when you use it than the cheap stuff, it’s sharper and actually scraping off steel for you.

    Hope this helps while you’re waiting for your plates (and would love to hear your experience with plates, it’s next on my wish list).



    Rob Drown

    I think sharpening is the key to working with hand tools. If you get it sharp, whatever tool will work wonderfully.

    I use a tormec and water stones. A good friend uses 3m metal polishing films. Used properly any system works. Use what you like understand and can afford. The principals are the same. The film works really well for flattening a plane bottom. The tormec puts a hollow grind on everything.


    As pointed out above, Your paper cannot be paper backed, find an automotive store if no big box stores around and buy the wet/dry paper with a cloth back. When i started i bought 150, 250, 400, 600, 1200, and 2000 which gave me close to mirror finish. I now have diamond plates, but it works well.

    Ontario, Canada

    Joris Kempen

    thanks for all the tips and sorry for a late reply. About a week ago our second baby boy Lux was born. So was kinda busy with that!

    , you are also from Netherlands i assume. I got the sandpaper from Gamma but indeed it’s rubbish. At which store did you buy decent sandpaper?

    In the meanwhile i got the eze-lap plates and now waiting till i have some more time.

    I really want to build the Paul Sellers bench, and all I got is an old oak table and a up top bench vise like this one:

    Is it possible to use this vise before i get a real woodworking vise? Or do i need to get some kind of workmate?

    Thanks all!

    Mic van Reijen


    You’re using a metal working vise, the beaks on these are too small for woodworking, they will dig into your project. There happens to be a quick release record for sale on marktplaats that needs tom TLC (, that’s more like it. Mind you, this one has two studs that you’ll need to recess into your table. Mine doesn’t have that so I can clamp it to a table for a makeshift workbench. Not many woodworking vices pass marktplaats but it’s worth to keep an eye out. I got an old Record 52 1/2 E from there not too long ago for 42 euro including shipping.

    As for the sandpaper, I got it from Van Beem around the corner here, any E-norm hardware store should have half decent sand paper. I use paperback waterproof and it works just fine. It’s about 1 euro per sheet.

    Excuse my English on technical terms, I’m guessing half the time – I’m as Dutch as they come 🙂


    ps As for your current workbench, it’s probably better than mine!

    My first workbench - limited to sunny days only

    Joris Kempen

    i hoped i could add some wood to the beaks of the metal working vice and get some tips to get started with this old oak table without to many adjustements.

    this is my table and not sure how i could easily add the Record Vise… any ideas?

    up close:

    i also notice that your vise is not parallel with your working space, isn’t that the true benefit of an attached woodworking vise to the bench?

    thanks on the tips for the sandpaper, let me check if i have some more hardware shops around here besides Gamma and Praxis!


    I think a lot of us have done the scary sharp method and it does work, but it gets expensive in a hurry.

    As far as your vise goes is ther anyway to add an apron to the front? and then line up the vise with the table top and make approbate cutout for the vise. You will have to add some bracing as well. You might be better off keeping that as your assembly table and build Paul’s bench for less than $100. It is a great bench. Just my $.02


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    Joris Kempen

    steve thanks for the tip and probably should not adjust the oak table. Would probably just cause more money and frustation than needed.

    but can a PS bench be built without a workmate? also still need to make the plate holder for sharpening. Everything seems kinda difficult without a proper bench and vise…


    I built my bench with very little. No vice just a table and clamps.
    Clamped a board down planed one end then moved the clamp. Took a little longer but i really like the end product. And i learned a whole bunch doing it. My first is 5.5 ft long and double sided.


    I have been using the system with abrasive paper (also known as “Scary Sharp” with great success. I use 3M papers that are water proof and spray water on a granite tile, then on the paper itself. I have a diamond lapping stone (actually steel, with embedded diamond dust, I guess) to re-establish bevels on badly worn plane and chisel blades; then I switch to sandpaper — 100, 220, 400, 800, 1000, 1500 — ending up with honing compound on a leather strop — gets things really sharp — I slipped and cut my finger with one of my chisels last spring; wrapped it with double bandages for several days and when I finally uncovered — healed –no sign of a scar now — that’s scalpel sharp.
    I did start this system with sandpaper from Harbor Freight — doesn’t work anywhere near as well as the 3m wet/dry papers. I also use a Veritas jig for both chisels and planes.


    Considering Paul’s Blog build of the work bench use little more than a couple saw horse, clamps and convenient tree, you don’t really need anything as nice as a workmate.

    As to that oak table, if you don’t really need it then keep it around as source of fine oak for after your skills grow and you can make a nice piece of reclaimed furniture from the table.

    On sharpening, something that helps the paper not tear is to skip the water. It is not an absolute need, mostly just keeps the dust down. If you have to pick and choose were to spend money on good stuff, the diamond hones were the right first choice.

    A word of warning on using a metal working vise, they are very good at crushing wood. Vises are very nice, but you can do very good work with nothing but a solid table and a selection of good clamps (which you need any way for glueup).

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.