The grinder station. At the top, clamps, hand screw clamps, hanging from a lumber, and long clamp rack. Spray cans, lubricants, etc., then two shelves with thin profile cuts of various moldings I make. Grind wheels, and to the left, bits, burrs and cutters for the Foredom rotary tool, hanging from a swing arm on the other side of the window, Another post. Then the grinders, from left to right. Hard felt buffing wheel, soft felt wheel, 60 grit aluminum oxide grind wheel, and a fine wire wheel.

Grinding an edge, using the forefinger of my right hand as a "fence" against the tool rest, for how to "place" the tool being ground. After much experimentation, I've come to the conclusion that a basic grinder, medium grit, is all you need. No wet grinders, or slow speed grinders, or diamond grit, horizontal wheels. Just a plain old grinder, but you need the secret ingredient; patience. The grind wheel needs to be clean, right forefinger clamped to the tool, and quick, light passes. After each pass, touch the just ground tip; it should be cool enough to touch; if not, you're not being patient. In spite of the lack of "jig", very accurate, and maybe more accurate, because I can vary the approach easily, which is more accommodating to the irregularities of most hand tools. I'm going for a slight, hollow grind, with the edge perpendicular to the sides of the tool. This is an antique cabinet chisel, but the same holds true for carving tools.

 Here, the hollow grind on the edge of the tool.

Here, the stones. I keep my various stones in water, distilled water, because it doesn't grow algae, in plastic tubs. Behind the tub, held in place by two spring clamps, is a Japanese water stone. Above that, the shelf for the tubs of stones, and to the left is the spray bottle, filled with distilled water for wetting the stones when in use. The spray bottle is handy for the glue pot as well.

Some slip stones in the tub, used for honing the inside of carving tools, and to the right, the special stone for flattening the water stones. I have also used wet sand paper laid on a flat surface, for flattening water stones. The Japanese water stones get hollowed very easily, but that is also why they sharpen so quickly.

 Here, I'm flattening the back on the just ground chisel, on an American water stone, of 100 and 220 grit, using the 220 side. Get the back flat.

Now, sharpening the bevel. I'm again using the right hand forefinger, between the stone and the tool, as a guide, or fence if you will, to control the angle. A slow, gentle back and forth, patience, with the two edges of that hollow resting on the face of the stone. Lap the back, again, then move to a finer grit stone. I usually start with the 220, then 800, followed by a 1200 stone. If you let the 1200 dry a little as you are working it, the slurry produced gets finer, and you will get a more polished edge. You can go beyond 1200, though an edge from 1200 cuts oak, walnut, and basswood very well. With a carving tool, the tool will need to be rotated through the back and forth so the whole edge is sharpened. This is where no jig can help, as the carving tool needs to be sharpened "freehand". Getting comfortable with the process on a cabinet chisel, will make it easy to do the more complex carving tool.

Now, a little lazy controversy. I hone my tools using a buffing wheel, a hard felt wheel for the bevel side, and on carving tools I'll use the soft wheel on the inside. (See first image) Here, I try very hard to be both patient and judicious, being very careful to lightly approach the edge. There is a fear of rounding the edge, so to speak. But I routinely touch up an edge on the buffing wheel as I'm carving. And it works. I use one of the green oxide polishing compounds, but any kind will do, just adjust for how aggressive the compound is.

It is possible to buy any number of tools and gadgets for producing that "miracle" edge on tools. Bevel gauges, jigs for holding the angle, special grinders, or you can do it the way it has been done since we started using tools; by hand and feel. If you learn hand and feel, you can sharpen a tool anywhere, and with whatever is at hand; concrete, sandpaper, your jeans, or the palm of your hand. Stropping a tool in the palm of your hand, either with some of the slurry from the stone, or not, works quite well.

There are nuances I'm avoiding, but for the good reason, that I want the tool to do some work, and I have little interest in going beyond getting the job done. I can shave micro thin slices, with or perpendicular from any wood I'm working; more?, nah, I'm too lazy.

Edit: Changed "stopping" to stropping, second paragraph above.