Taking Care of Your Toolkit

Good tools need proper care and maintenance if they are to give years of reliable service. Chisels and planes are only as good as their cutting edges. Grindstones and oilstones are the basic tools used to keep a sharp edge which is essential. An oilstone box is a useful item you can make yourself to keep the edges in satisfactory condition.

There are two forms of stone – the flat stone, used for sharpening chisels or plane irons, and the wheel, also used for sharpening and for grinding badly blunted edges.

Types of stone

Grindstones are either of quarried natural sandstone, particles of sand or grit, naturally cemented together, or composition, abrasive wheels, which are hand-made stones.

Sandstones are slow-grinding substances, in which the stone may wear unevenly. They permit grinding to a good edge with little risk of burning the cutting edge of the tool, which should be lubricated with water during grinding.

The advantage of composition abrasive wheels is that, because of the fast-cutting qualities and speed at which they can be used, the grinding process is much quicker. They can also be manufactured in various grades-such as soft, medium and hard and in different degrees of coarseness and fineness.

Many grindstones consist of two wheels – a fine wheel and a coarse wheel, so that badly damaged or pitted edges can first be brought to a reasonable stage on the coarse stone and finished on the fine wheel.

The grindstone should be of a sufficient width to avoid hollow grinding of the blade edge. The grinding friction wears away worn or gapped cutting edges when the tool is held against a rotating wheel. Power grindstones are now widely used, though the older hand-turned wheels are very effective.

Where hollow or shaped-edged tools have to be ground, specially shaped stones or wheels are used, as, for example, when grinding a gouge. Tools which are ground on the convex side can, however, be ground on a flat grinding wheel.

When grinding a plane iron use a honing gauge; the iron should be ground to an angle of 25° to 30°.

Blunted or broken screwdriver tips can be reground on a grindstone.


Oilstones, used for honing, producing a fine edge to the cutting tool, are used after grinding. These are divided into natural oilstones, artificial oilstones and slip stones.

Natural stones are quarried and are usually obtainable in hard and soft grains. Water should be used for lubrication on coarse-grained (soft) natural oilstones and oil, of a non-drying nature, such as neats-foot oil, on the finer grades.

Artificial oilstones are manufactured by cementing together particles of carborundum and are available in fine, medium, coarse and combination grades. The combination stone consists of two grades of stone laminated together. One side is made up with a coarse grade for quickly wearing down very dull or badly nicked edges; the other consists of a fine grade for producing a keen cutting edge.

The slow-cutting natural stones produce a finer cutting edge than the fast-cutting artificial stones.

Oil is used as a medium on all artificial stones. Oils with non-drying properties should be used in sharpening, to prevent clogging of the stone, by floating off the particles of steel. Oil also prevents overheating caused by friction.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Taking Care of Your Toolkit


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