I don’t have a sharpening stone big enough for my wider plane blades, so decided to make a couple using sandpaper as the sharpening medium.
A trip to the big green box hardware store yielded a couple of black tiles, 200 x 100mm. They were 80c each. I also got some spray glue ($8.50) and I had some wet & dry sandpaper already ($5). Total cost for the project is under $20, less if you already have spray glue, which comes in handy for lots of workshop projects.
Firstly, assemble your supplies. Here they are on my portable bench, as I didn’t really want to risk excess glue on my main workbench.
Give the tile a thin coat of the spray glue, then give it a couple of minutes to get tacky.
Put your sandpaper on the tile, lining up the square edges of the paper as accurately as you can.
Turn it over and rub it on the bench lightly to make sure it’s smooth
Use a utility knife to trim the excess paper off and turn it back over. Give it half an hour to dry properly and it’s ready to go.
You can make these up in any grit you want, I made an 80 and a 1200 as you can see in the first picture. Something like an 80, 240, 300, 600, 1200 and 2000 grit set would be great to have, and would only cost you a little more to make.
In use, leave these dry, and use a stiff brush to clean them off occasionally while sharpening. They don’t need water or oil to work and last better without a lubricant. Remember to only pull the blade towards you when sharpening, otherwise you could snag the paper and tear it. When the paper is totally worn out, peel it off, clean off the old glue and repeat the process.
To test them out I hard a go at sharpening a 1 inch chisel with a good chip in the edge. Here it is before I started work on it
And here’s the same edge after about 5 minutes on each stone. I didn’t take the chip fully out this time, I will grind it out then resharpen this later, but you can see that it’s a much better edge than before I started. I was able to shave pine end grain with this chisel once done, where before I couldn’t even get it to touch the surface.