GATEWAY SKILL NUMERO UNO

I’m always shocked when I find that someone will pay five hundred dollars for a plane, chisels or turning tools then balk at paying a hundred dollars for a good honing stone.  Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who are of the opinion that more expensive tools don’t require sharpening.  Oh my…

Gramps was insistent.  First came sweeping.  Then came sharpening.  Sharpening fifty years ago meant sharpening every tool that had a cutting edge.  While throw-away tools were available, no self-respecting joiner would use them (or simply put, throw money away on them).  Plane irons, chisels, auger bits, scrapers, drawknives, spokeshaves – all had to be maintained at the highest level of sharpness and durability achievable.  Each tool had its own specific (and many times peculiar) cutting edge geometry.  “You can’t do good work with dull tools” rings in my ears to this day.  Lesson number two was the first, and very likely the most important, Gateway Skill.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at what constitues the sharpening process and various methods for grinding, honing and polishing.  I think that the information will be very helpful as many people seem to think that sharpening is some black art, when in fact it is an easily understood and highly repeatable process (simply requiring the engagement of both hemispheres of the brain). 

So information is on the way, some raw, some refined.  I’ll be throwing it out there and the rest will be up to you.

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