Two companies have introduced new tools to make sharpening of wide plane irons and similar hand tools easier. One offers a wider whetstone platform for hand sharpening with diamond surfaces, and the other expands the features of a popular mechanized sharpening system.
The simpler of the two systems is probably the most versatile. The Dia-Sharp diamond sharpener from DMT ( see demo ) now comes in a 4-inch wide plate that is 10 inches long. Covered with a continuous diamond grit over a steel whetstone plate, these sharpening stones are used much in the same way you would use conventional water-lubricated whetstones (DMT recommends against oil as a lubricant).
We tried the fine and extra fine grit Dia-Sharp plates and found they worked very well in a variety of situations. Wide tools such as drawknives and extra-wide plane irons sharpen easily on these stones. But, because of the continuous diamond surface they are also great for small point and carving tools that might be more difficult to sharpen on diamond stones without a continuous diamond-studded surface.
Work Sharp WS3000 wide blade attachment
The Work Sharp WS3000 ( see video ) created a revolution in hand-tool sharpening when it was introduced. It offered economical precision machine sharpening of hand tools without the mess or fuss of liquid coolant. The system uses a machine with abrasive discs mounted on tempered glass wheels. A precision tool rest also serves as a heat sink to avoid overheating while sharpening.
The system has been very popular, but it has its limits. Chief of these was inability to accommodate flat blade tools larger than two inches wide. The new wide blade attachment expands that capability to 3 inches. The attachment has a metal table that mounts on top of the machine and a blade holder with wheels that rides on the table.
An alignment fixture makes it easy to set up the blade to be sharpened in the honing guide, and the table top can be used as a heat sink if too much heat develops in the sharpening process.
One size doesn't fit all
Both of these sharpening solutions have their place in a woodworking shop that uses hand tools. The extra wide DMT Dia-Sharp really excels for wide blades such as drawknives. The WS3000 wide blade attachment makes a great tool even more versatile. For more information about the DMT Dia-Sharp, visit www.dmtsharp.com. For more information about the Work Sharp WS3000 system, visit www.worksharptools.com.
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