How To Sharpen Tools?

Sharpening tools will make their activities at home, garden, and workshop more active and take less time. When will a traditional sharpener be useful and when to use a grinder? Here is an overview of the most popular ways to improve the quality of cutting tools.


Sharpening as a way to renovate tools

Tools for cutting and cutting are found in every home, workshop, or garage; We become familiar with their advantages from an early age – from scissors for cutting paper decorations. The more extensive the toolbox set, the more specialized equipment it contains, including the ones equipped with blades. If besides, they are often used, over time, their fundamental properties become a memory, and operating them causes more problems than it brings benefits. This applies equally to a set of planers for wood as well as a set of kitchen knives. Fortunately, we can give the blades their former quality relatively easily and in many ways. Thanks to sharpening – especially if it is carried out successively and with proper sensitivity – our favorite knives, chisels, drills, and axes have served us for years,


Double-layer whetstone Condor 50 x 25 x 200 mm

She hit the scythe on stone – and what happened next?

The original cutting tools used in prehistoric times were stones, then replaced by the first large-scale raw material – flint, which in turn gave way to bronze, iron, and finally steel tools. Steel scythes for cutting grass and cereals were widely used until the middle of the last century, as was their prototype, i.e., the sickle.

Do you know that…?

Care for the scythe’s blade consisted not only in the use of a whetstone but also patting with a hammer – a round face on one side of the blade and a sharp edge on the other. Why? The steel used to make the scythe was of poor quality, and it was improved by hardening by crumple – inefficient patting of the knife resulted in warping and waving a perfectly straight edge.


Fiskars knife and ax sharpener

Currently, steel for cutting tools is used of incomparably better quality than that used for equipping sickle and scythe blades – including chromium-molybdenum and vanadium-chromium steel. Ceramics fired in a high-temperature range are also used to make knives. Despite the qualitative pitch, the edges used dull over time and require sharpening. The abovementioned whetstone, which was once sandstone, is still widely used, especially in homes, to renovate the blunt edges of knives, chisels, scissors, and pruning shears, as well as axes.


What whetstone should you use to sharpen the edges?

Natural and synthetic materials, as well as metal alloys, are used to make whetstones. These are, among others:

– sandstone,

– silicon,

– ceramics,

– corundum,

– steel,

– sintered carbides,

– synthetic diamond dust.

Whetstone gradation, which is in the range of 80-8000, is a property that allows you to choose the right graininess for the degree of wear of the sharpened edge:

– initially, a tool with a gradation of about 600 is used to care for the quality of a blunted blade,

– high gradations are used to polish it and give the edge a smooth edge.

Expert tip:

We handle the blade differently, which has a damaged edge due to high wear. Initially, we must level this with a grinder, file, or grinding stone with the smallest possible graininess.

Natural stones (sandstones) or their synthetic equivalents are used to sharpen various types of knives – Japanese and Belgian should be mentioned here. Their abrasive efficiency requires the use of polishing paste, specialized oil, a mixture of oil and kerosene, or water. Oil and kerosene are also used for silicon carbide and corundum stone. Unlike dry sharpening, the blade does not heat up, and the abrasive lining is not clogged with metal chips.

Do you know that…?

One way to store Japanese stone is to keep it in the water all the time. In the aquatic environment, sludge develops on its surface, which has soothing properties, so its removal is not needed. However, it is worth protecting the water against the development of algae in advance.


Chain sharpener

When choosing a whetstone appropriate for a given tool, pay attention to the variety of their shapes, from round (intended for scissors), through triangular (chisel), oval (pruning shears), to flat and at the same time rectangular, which are placed on the surface of the worktop instead of holding in hand.

Sharpeners are another type of manual application that, in addition to the abrasive surface, have a handle formed in such a way that the guard protects against injury from the hand that holds it. The sharpeners also have a diverse shape (round bar, flat bar) that resembles metal tools with grooves for the same purpose, i.e., files.

What tools should sharpen files?

Like whetstones and sharpeners, files differ in shape, selected for a specific tool whose edges we will be processing. The most popular files are:

– flat,

– round,

– triangular,

– sword-shaped,

– half-round.

Let’s pay attention to the granularity of this type of tool, which is within the range determined by two, unlike the files:

– the conifer, without a handle or visible incisions, is used to smooth the internal surfaces of holes made of plastic, wood, and metal,

– rasper – used for the same materials, but their pre-sawing, its graininess, i.e., the number of cuts per 1 cm², can reach barely 4.5.

Due to the extremely durable material of the files, they are used to sharpen the metal edges of many hand tools, mechanical devices, and various accessories. Examples here are woodworking tools:

– hand saw,

– chisel,

– spiral bits,

– flat bits,

– tables,

– axes.


Oregon file guide

Those with a long cutting edge, after the first use of the file, are additionally sharpened with a fine-grained whetstone. For drills and hand saws, we only use data – flat and round.

A flat file will also help us to shorten and facilitate garden work. Some of the tools used in the green areas of our plots and properties, although not used for cutting, have a sharp edge – including hoes, spades, and shovels. If we adjust and sharpen them after the season or during it, gardening will cost us less effort.

When to sharpen tools with a grinder?

The use of an electric grinder will contribute to the effective sharpening of the edges of tools such as knives if we properly ensure that the metallic blade does not heat up to high temperatures. Why?

Condor drill sharpener 3.5-10 mm

Except for HSS high-speed steel, all other types of steel used to make blades, although extremely hard, are equally resistant to overheating as a result of which they lose their properties. It is worth remembering before you start sharpening with a grinder and prepare in advance the liquid in which the blade will be cooled, and the sharpening itself will not consist in firmly pressing the edge of the blade against the abrasive disc. Supports will also be useful, thanks to which we will avoid metal and rough contact at different angles.

Other sharpeners and home ways to sharpen knives and scissors

Tool manufacturers also offer sharpeners, the use of which makes it much easier to restore the edges of the right quality. Thanks to the use of this type of accessories, we do not need to manually maintain the angle of inclination relative to the abrasive material for different blades. This is because the gaps in which we place the leaves have been adequately profiled, and they allow sharpening one accessory with a double abrasive edge, for example, a knife and an ax.

Do you know that…?

The angle of inclination of the blade relative to the abrasive should be different depending on the purpose of specialized knives. The thinnest edges have filleting knives, requiring 15ᵒ preservation, the thickest – hunting knives, as well as for cutting and chopping – the correct angle of inclination of their blade relative to the abrasive material is twice as large. Some sharpening sets allow their construction to maintain a constant edge during manual sharpening.

MacAllister bench grinder

Even if we do not have any of the tools described above at home, we can temporarily take care of the quality of the edges of our knives and scissors. For the former, it will be helpful, for example, to use the rough surface of the bottom of the ceramic cup that can be used as an abrasive.

We have more options when it comes to sharpening the scissors, for which we can use such various accessories as a baking foil folded several times, a glass bottle or a thick needle – we cut the foil many times, improving the quality of the scissors, and we try to reduce the neck of the bottle and the needle – although our efforts in this direction will not be successful (scissors are too insufficient for this), the edges will be sharpened in this way.

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