Saturday, 30 October 2010

The 'Secret' of Sharpening...

I occasionally get asked when I'm demonstrating at shows how I manage to get my tools so sharp - "What's the secret" they ask.  "Move a bit closer and I'll tell you" - so they approach thinking I'm going to divulge some arcane mystery.  "Patience, Persistence and Practice - like everything else in life".  They usually go away looking a bit disappointed.

Anyhow I've had 3 course days this week and they all came to learn specifically how to obtain and maintain those razor sharp edges.

First up was Dennis on Wednesday who brought a load of tools for power lathe turning.
I think a lot of people like him end up abandoning their hobby because they can't get a decent edge. I don't know how he was even cutting anything with some of the gouges and his skew was a bit rusty.  We gave them a ride on the grinder, honed the skew and I got him to try them out on the lathe.  He started smiling and said how nice it was to use properly sharpened tools.  Still managed to make some massive digs with the skew though.

Maurice came the day after with an assortment of reasonably blunt implements.  Amongst other things, such as how to get a mirror polish on an axe blade, I showed him that a spindle gouge needs a finger-nail grind and not straight across...
He was impressed with the WorkSharp after regrinding a load of knackered chisels quickly and easily. I think he might buy one.

Jahit came today with a range of quite sharp tools and learned to take them up a notch using some of my own unorthodox methods and techniques.  He made an Ash handle to fit to one of his properly sharpened axes.

As I've got older I've got more patient and spend more time on getting those perfect edges on my tools.  It makes me more happy and confident in my work.  Sharpness is almost a spiritual state of mind.


Keith said...

Good post, thank you.

JRC said...

... Sharpness is almost a spiritual state of mind.

That one went straight into my memorable quotations file. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time sharpening things. In the end, the time spent sharpening is made up in cutting. Sharp tools are also much safer than dull ones. Good post.

JRC said...

...Sharpness is almost a spiritual state of mind.

Spot on. That went straight into my memorable quotations file. I seem to spend a lot of time sharpening. But the time spent is made up in ease of working. Good post.

It is also worth mentioning that a sharp tool is much safer than a dull one. Dull tools slip. Slips cause injuries.