|Sample, Un-Stropped Chisel Cuts|
Well, after fiddling around with the belt sander set up, experimenting on my carpenter work flat chisels, the picture above shows two sample cuts from a couple of gouges. These cuts are right off of the belt sander and not too bad of quality. Basswood is the wood and the cut is across the grain.
I've seen some comments about this series of blogposts I'm doing and most of them are positive. My goal in all of this is to change the cutting angle of my gouges so they suit my particular style of carving better -- everything is evolving! Since reading through Leonard Lee's book on sharpening yet again it seemed to me that he really felt the belt sander is an underused tool for sharpening and rates it highly. From Lee Valley I picked up their 120 grit Blue Zirconia sharpening belt and give that two thumbs up. I also got their 15 micro silicon carbide and have some mixed emotions about that but will get into that later in this blog.
The first issue I addressed was the one about getting the rotation of the belt to go the other way. Makes sense that you wouldn't want your edge slammed against the tool rest while you're trying to hone it. Here's a LINK to that blog if you need it. I came up with what I think is a pretty effective way to maintain the needed angles on the chisels. For my carving work I'm using 20 degrees. Just to clarify, for my bench chisels and planes I use hand held guides and stones only. I'm not a fan of hollow grinding. Saying that though, the first bunch of experiments I did with this set up was on the Stanley butt chisels I bought back in the early 70's and used during my carpenter years.
Okay, let's get started. The picture below shows how easy it is to swap out the belts on my set up. There is plenty of clearance on the side to get your hands into, the only slight hassle is pulling up on the tension knob but really not bad of a chore.
|Plenty of Clearance for Belt Changes|
I improved the tool rest, I think! It's an aid which will allow you to sharpen a tool that's wider than the belt. It's simply a fence that hooks over the tool rest. To make things easier to move during cutting, the guide and the tool rest have been waxed. By holding the tool against it you can now move it from side to side to grind the entire edge. For tools less than an inch wide clamp the tool rest so it's stationary.
|Detail of Rest --- Viewed from Back|
In practice there are a couple of things to consider. First of all be prepared that the tool you're grinding will want to pull away from the rest so hold it securely. The belt moves pretty quickly and things will heat up so just "kiss" the tool to it and then pull back. The amount of sparks you get will be a good indication of how heavy or light your cut is -- you want to work slowly and make multiple, light passes cooling the tool in some water as needed.
|Actual Cut in Progress|
Like I said, I'm using some carpentry chisels to get a feel for this process and they were in dire need of some reshaping. Funny how nails and ceramic tile screw up their edges! I'm one to use a sharpie on the edge to check the progress of my sharpening. Here is one of them after a few passes:
|1 1/2" Butt Chisel|
|25 Degrees and ........|
|Angle Iron NOT Touching Belt|
|Carpentry Chisels Re-ground, Honed, & Ready for Final Hand Work|
|Initial Re-grind with 120 Grit|