Woodworking Projects

Sharpening Fundamentals with Bob Van Dyke

Article Image

If you’re not able to get your hand tools sharp, you’re not going to have much success (or fun) with them. Early in my woodworking journey, I thought that everyone was too obsessed with sharpening. This coincided with my belief that everyone was just exaggerating about their success with hand tools. It turns out hand tools are awesome, but only if they’re sharp.

Over a decade ago, we made a video series on sharpening with Bob Van Dyke. It’s a little dated looking, but the information is great and kept popping up on my radar. When I discussed the series with Bob, he mentioned that the information is still valid, but a lot has happened since 2008 and he’d like to update it.

We did just that, deciding to really focus on the fundamentals. In this video workshop, Bob covers the basics of all of the popular sharpening mediums, bevel angles, micro-bevels, hollow grinding, and his personal methods for sharpening chisels, handplanes, and carving gouges.

—Ben Strano

Videos in the Series

  • video still of various sharpening systems

    Sharpening systems explained

    October 25, 2021

    From oil stones to sandpaper systems, Bob Van Dyke gives an overview of many of the sharpening systems popular today—including the pros and cons of each.

  • Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.

  • Bob Van Dyke demonstrating how to flatten a sharpening stone

    How to flatten sharpening stones

    October 25, 2021

    Without truly flat stones, you'll never be able to get truly sharp. In this video, Bob Van Dyke demonstrates this sharpening fundamental.

  • Sharp blades start with a flat back

    October 25, 2021

    You'll never experience the upside of a super-sharp blade if you don't put in the time on the backside.

  • What’s in a bevel angle?

    October 25, 2021

    What's the difference between between flat grinds and hollow grinds? Why does everyone sharpen bevels at 30º. What is a micro-bevel? Bob answers it all.

  • How to sharpen a blade using a honing guide

    October 25, 2021

    Bob Van Dyke gives an overview of various honing guides, and demonstrates why he uses one when sharpening his plane irons and chisels.

  • Hollow grinding tips and techniques

    October 25, 2021

    Bob Van Dyke heads to the grinder to demonstrate how he adds a hollow grind to his blades and how he keeps from burning the blade in the process.

  • Relieving the corners of a plane blade

    October 25, 2021

    Bob Van Dyke sharpens his plane blades with a subtle camber on the edges of the blade, allowing him more control with his handplanes.

  • Sharpening a plane blade

    October 25, 2021

    Bob Van Dyke demonstrates how he sharpens his plane blades and gets back to work without skipping a beat.

  • Sharpening gouges and other curved blades

    October 25, 2021

    Bob demonstrates a cool tool that helps him get curved blades sharp without much fuss.