Woodworking Crafts: Reader Group Test – Sharp Edge

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Sharp Edge Precision Sharpening System

Sharp Edge is sold as a precision sharpening tool system, designed and made in Britain. The kit consists of the jig, plus a blade spacer and backingoff tool for burr removal and four interchangeable diamond plates 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 grits plus three self-adhesive strips of 3M foils 9, 5, 3 microns. These foils are stuck to the reverse of each diamond plate. The plates are held on by rare earth magnets. WD40 is the recommended lubricant, the jig being able to take plane or chisel blades from 3-85mm wide. The plates are moved sideways in order to create the honing action.

We asked the testers a range of questions, some of which were graded, others needed more articulated answers rather than just scoring. We asked what was their experience using the product and if they had any problems using it.

Ray Herbert: I currently sharpen my edge tools with an oilstone, but the diamond plates and 3M ultra-fine sheets were easy to use. I would have preferred paper instructions as well. Setting up took a bit of time before I could use it, but I got there. I would recommend it for DIY.

Alan Turley: Prior to receiving the product it was suggested that one should view the YouTube video clip of the product. This I did a few times, so I knew exactly what to do, but I have read the instructions and they seem very clear to me, even down to the advice to use WD40 to lubricate – it also cleans the diamond hones as well. I normally have difficulty sharpening my small 6mm chisel because it twists in the honing guide and does not lie flat on the stone. So I tried it first and was pleased, it was so easy to sharpen. I found that the diamond plates themselves were of a good quality. The grit range was excellent – 200-1,500 – and they sharpened my chisel and plane blades very well. I was intrigued by the three self-adhesive ultra-fine strips and was somewhat overzealous polishing the back face of my chisels trying to get a mirror finish, so much so that they are now pretty much blackened and worn out. I did a search on the internet and found a woodworking site selling these 3M sheets – 9, 5 and 3 micron – at £2.70 each for about an A4-size sheet. So this makes the whole thing very reasonable. I do not see this tool as being used instead of, or replacing anything, serious, nail damage or the like will have to be fixed before this little ‘gem’ comes into action, and for that reason I see this as the ‘icing on the cake’.

Alan Deloughry: I currently use a grinder and wet stone and grit paper on glass. I found the diamond plates and 3M ultra-fine sheets achieved sharp, accurately honed edges. Having received the Sharp Edge Precision Tool Sharpening System to evaluate I thought my prayers had been answered. Sharpening is something I just can’t master. I only sharpen my tools when it’s absolutely necessary and that’s it. Having my own man cave and a place for everything, I don’t tend to keep the packing and would have possibly thrown away my instructions before I realised that I needed them. It would be interesting to know if these are available on the web. I would definitely recommend that the Precision Tool Sharpening System is secured to a workbench or, as I did, to an offcut of wood with some anti-slip material positioned on the reverse side. The Precision Tool Sharpening System is cleaner and less cumbersome than oil or waterstone sharpening and would be ideal for carrying and using away from the workshop. I tested the Precision Tool Sharpening System while sitting at the kitchen table and received no complaints from the other half. I easily sharpened 13 chisels in less than 30 minutes and was impressed with the results.

Bruce Quinney: I use a Jet wetstone grinder at the moment, but the diamond plates and 3M ultra-fine sheets performed very well, fast and simple-to-change grades. It’s much easier and faster to setup and do a micro bevel using these than on the grinder. I do have some concerns about the life expectancy of the plates and potential for tools getting magnetised, but I will be continuing to use it for final sharpening from now on. You still need another method for doing full grinds but for that final edge, it’s great.

Brian Conchie: I have found very useful web-based instructions, which would be very helpful to a new user; perhaps some information on this could be included within the instructions. Prior to this I have always sharpened by hand using an oilstone and a very old and basic angle roller guide. You quickly learn the amount of pressure to apply to obtain the best results and I made a note of the jig settings for ease of repeatability. The backing-off tool holder is a clever idea and the strips are very effective to polish the back of the blade. After some practice to get familiar with the setup I placed a mark on the angle on the hone support, so that future setup is quick and consistent with the previous sharpen. The backing-off tool works well and you only need a few strokes to remove any burr and clean the blade back. I found that at the start of using it the slide mechanism was a little stiffer than I had expected, but very soon after starting to use it the original ‘newness’ had worn, of which I attribute this more to the user getting familiar with the product rather than the product being too tight. The unit performs well, it is very portable, although I did use mine screwed to a scrap piece of plywood.

Editor’s comment

This is the first time I have tried this sharpening device which, to an extent, emulates the aluminium extrusion type made by Trend. Several things are apparent: it needs to be screwed to a board, mine has a strip of wood to clamp in a vice; it needs lubricant to move easily, as well as aid the cutting action and you do need to press down on the pads so they don’t slip out of place. The Sharp Edge is intended for honing not for grinding, so that work needs to be carried out first. However, I found I got sharp edges very easily and the backing tool got rid of the burrs. I’m not overly fussed about using 3M papers, as I want edges that cut rather than being able to see myself in the mirror finish. Overall a remarkably good bit of kit though.

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