sharpening blades

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by cgutzmer, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    I have seen it in a few threads but never dedicated to its own. I want to ask for supplies for xmas (see other threads as needed) How do you sharpen your blades? specifically with a dremel and compound - types of wheels and compound. Other methods appreciated as well!
    Thanks for helping me with my list guys :)
  2. speedless

    speedless Member

    The left thing is a piece of slate (roof cover),the right is a sanding stone for fishing-hooks.
    I use the sandstone first,then the slate and to finish a old leatherbelt
    (Barber stile).All done by hand,with a little practice you will surprise yourself
    how sharp a blade can be.AARRRG
    I even sharpens new blades.
    The sandstone has a groove in it,very usefull for sanding paper egdes.

    Attached Files:

  3. blueeyedbear

    blueeyedbear Member

    I wouldn't even attempt to use a Dremel to sharpen a blade --- high speed will overheat the blade and ruin it. If you want to sharpen a lawn mower blade, a Dremel (with the appropriate attachment) would be fine, but lawn mower blades don't need to be very sharp.

    For an Exacto-type blade,

    1. Check Micromark. They make a gadget with a sharpening stone and a blade holder that that works quite well for #11 blades.

    2. For other Exacto blades, your pocket knife, kitchen knives, axes, #11 blades, etc., go to a hardware store and buy a sharpening stone (aka a whetstone). A medium/fine two sided stone is best for general use, plus an "Arkansaw" stone for finishing, followed by "stropping" on an old belt. Also get a small can of light oil --- its better than water for lubricating the stone. Then find someone to show you how to sharpen a blade on it (My grandfather taught me how) --- it isn't especially difficult, once you've practiced a bit. Curved blades are more difficult than straight-edges ones.

    If you only use #11 Exacto blades, like many of us, you can buy them in packages of 100 --- opening the box is easier than sharpening! :roll eyes:

    My people used to sharpen their blades by re-working the edges with a piece of rock or deer antler, but they used flint blades for making rawhide models!:twisted:

  4. Rick Thomson

    Rick Thomson Member

    I use an old ceramic bit from one of the lathes at work, the tip is worn out, but the four long straight edges on the rhomboid form will last for ever when used to sharpen just about any hand held knife or even axe.

    There is a commercial version out in Europe, and perhaps in the states as well. Try a google search under Swiss sharpener, it's hard metal not ceramic, but works very well.
  5. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Bob............ How did they get the raw hide to feed through the printer??!!........... mine keeps hanging up just after it starts to feed!:grin:

    Yeah.......... I get my blades on ebay............ sometimes you could get a deal, but not after Halloween, people go crazy and pay twice the original price. I think it's the You've Won Attitude.:grin:

  6. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member

    I only sharpen special blades that I have made mostly chisel blades in various widths. A pack of 100 #11 blades costs 12.50 at my local hobby shop and at 12 cents per blade I just toss them when they get dull. I have also noticed that the bulk blades hold an edge better and the sharp tip of the blade doe’s not break off as easily as the Exacto brand of blades.

    To sharpen I use an Arkansas stone that I purchased several years ago. As you can see it has 4 different grades of stone with the black stone being the finest and with the black stone and some patience you hone a blade to sharpness as good as any scalpel. Some modelers will also polish the edge with jewelers rouge to get the finest edge.

    Attached Files:

  7. hpept

    hpept Member

    Can someone post more details about the handling of the blade during the sharpening phase? I've tried several times but never obtained consistent results: sometimes i succeed, sometimes the blade gets duller then before sharpening. I guess it's the angle i maintain between blade and stone that doesn't match. Any hint?
  8. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Check out or buy Leonard Lee's book, "The Complete Guide to Sharpening", The Taunton Press, 1987. You'll never wonder about sharpening anything ever again.

    Contrary to some opinions the Dremel tool method works extremely well. It's just that you have to understand the technique behind it to make it work...,

  9. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    That technique is what I am after :) hint hint
  10. Ken Horne

    Ken Horne Member

    I use a couple of tools for sharpening.

    My most useful for scalpel blades is an old stone I bought at an antique store that was originally for sharpening straight razors. It's got a big chip out of one corner so I guess collectors were not too interested in it. I use it by wetting it a bit with water out of my brush cleaning jar, and stroking the blade towards me (sharp bit is the leading edge). I usually go something like seven strokes on one side, seven on the other, etc. Try very hard to maintain the same angle of attack. Sometimes I finish the job by polishing (honing) the blade with a leather strop I made. (Chunk of old belt leather glued to a stick) This motion is oppostite, I push the blade away from me (sharp bit is now trailing edge).

    For my scissors I have a neet little rig that came with some Fiskars scissors I bought. The working bit is a ceramic rod that is drawn across the blade at the prescribed angle. I love it.

    I also recommend Leonard Lee's book, "The Complete Guide to Sharpening." Perhaps your library has a copy.

    Take care all

  11. paper warrior

    paper warrior Member

    scrape it against a rock.
  12. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member

  13. Brian_Va

    Brian_Va New Member

    I keep #11 blades alive for months with a very basic 2 sided stone of aluminum oxide. If it's really dull I recut a new edge push/pull the blade away from me one time per side until sharp. Then I flip the stone to the fine side with some motor oil and gently maintain the original angle repeating the push pull flipping the blade and off to the side process. Eventually I have a blade I can shave with (in about 5 minutes).
  14. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    No one stepped though sharpening with a dremel - if anyone does this please let me know your steps - it would be greatly appreciated! Type of wheel and type of compound on the wheel would be awesome to know :)
  15. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Sharpening Scalpel Blades

    Hi all,

    A method that works fine for me for sharpening my dull scalpel or X-acto blades is to use a very fine sand stone, which I have inherited after my father. It´s called a "pocket hone" and is kept in a wonderful little leather pocket casing which has an opening at one end, which lets the stone dry after use.
    During the sharpening process, I have found that it´s very important to keep the knife and blade at a constant angle all the way through the sharpening.
    I, like my father, use a bit of spit to wet the stone - tap water or thin oil will do just as well but spit 'adheres' to the blade and doesn´t dry up as quickly in the sand stone under a warm table lamp. I always try to find a spot on the stone which is as flat and smooth as possible.
    Afterwards, I rinse the edges in cold tap water and gently scrape off the newly sharpened edge on some hard cardboard, AWAY from the edge of the blade - the opposite direction of a cut, that is.

    This simple method gives me razor sharp scalpel blades almost every time, if I manage to keep the angle constant all the way through on both sides. If the blade isn´t sharp enough, I repeat the process but not so deeply.

    In addition, I always use the new, smart retractable Swann & Morton handles, to protect the sharp blade from becoming dull too soon again (instead of placing it in a desk drawer or together with other knives, pens, etc).
    My X-acto knives has a transparent top cap, which does the same job.
    I put all my modelling knives in a clean drinking glass, with the blade up (of course). Before this 'protection policy' of mine, I quite often accidentaly got some nasty deep cuts in my (and the rest of the family´s) fingers and blood stains on the model sheets.
    That´s all history now.

    All the best,
    Bengt :smile:
  16. paper warrior

    paper warrior Member

    I use that bit that looks like a cylindrical orange rock.
  17. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    I'll post on the subject but I've run out of time for anything lately...,

  18. blueeyedbear

    blueeyedbear Member

    Sharp Exacto blades


    I said this in an earlier post, but sharpening exacto blades with a Dremel is a good way to ruin the blade. High temper steel blades are very sensitive to heat. As the hot blade cools, it loses its temper (this process is called "annealing" and is used in steel working to reduce the brittleness of the metal).

    If you want SHARP blades, use a fine sharpening stone and a leather strop (this can be a scrap of leather glued to a scrap of flat wood). Go to a barber and get him to show you how he sharpens a straight razor. Quit looking for a faster way to do it and you blades will be sharper and last longer between sharpenings. [And if you see your barber sharpening his razor with a Dremel --- run like mad]:rofl:

  19. paper warrior

    paper warrior Member

    sharpen it with a dremel with the bit and blade submerged in ice water.
  20. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    There are several people on here that have mentioned doing it and have had great success. If you were trying to sharpen a butterknife to razor sharp it would heat up a ton. Could it be possible that just honing the edge wouldnt heat it up enough to lose temper? I think it could be. Have you ever tried it? If you have done it and this happened let me know - how long did you run the dremel along the blade? I also consider I am sharpening maybe 1/2 of blade at most instead of several inches - it could make a difference for how much that blade heats up. As for using a stone and leather strap - I agree its a great way to do it but I dont have either of those things but I do have a dremel. Also whats wrong with looking for a quicker way? Innovation is a wonderous thing cars, computers, planes etc etc etc If we stuck to the old way our models would be drawn on papyrus with charcoal :p I like to learn new techniques (oh and I would never hone my buck knife with a dremel I would see if my dad could dig out his whetstone)

    No way am I sticking part of a plugged in dremel underwater - sure as heck thats when my kid would bump into me and I would plunge it into the water and ZAP! ;)

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