I used to set up an angled piece of wood next to my sharpening stone and eyeball the iron on the stone at that angle. I had one cut at 25deg. and another at 30deg. After a lot of practice this provided, more often than not, a nice solid bevel on which I could easily sharpen the iron every time. The issue was that all of my edges were at slightly different angles and sometimes the different angles reacted differently in various species of wood which sometimes changed between sharpenings/honings. In truth, this wasn't really a problem, but I knew I could make it better. The way I looked at it was this, I could watch the game on a black and white 1954 Packard Bell tabletop TV and struggle to see the players, or, I could watch the game on a new 50" HD LCD wall mounted television and easily see the individual hairs on the players faces. Just because the old ways work just fine, doesn't mean there's not room for improvement.
During the last year or so, I have been experimenting with a sharpening option that I originally thought was bunk. After I tried it one time, I started singing another tune (which wasn't pleasant for anyone within earshot). If anything, this process removes some of the inaccuracies inherent in trying to hold the iron at a perfect angle while setting the bevel, while balancing on one foot, while whistling Beethoven's Fifth. This process is repeatable, relatively accurate, provides a strong edge, and most importantly...it's quick. The process I am referring to has been around for an extremely long time, and upon some further research is used by some very well known woodworkers, whom in order to avoid starting any controversy shall remain nameless. The sharpening technique I am referring to puts a convex bevel on the tool in question. This convex bevel helps clear chips in the same way a flat bevel does, but it works like a microbevel providing an increase in edge durability (due to a higher edge angle than the primary bevel) and making honing and sharpening extremely quick.
|Three Of Many, Many Bevel Types|
|Side Profile Of an Iron Bevel|
Being Drawn Back Across A Sharpening Stone