Hand Tools Archive
Warren in Lancaster, PA
The most important aspect of the art of sharpening is discernment. That is to say having a feel for how well the tool is cutting at all times. A worker who is not observant will never know how good their sharpening technique is, what subtle adjustments to technique will improve it, or what steps are a waste of time. You cannot learn this stuff by sitting in an armchair and speculating.
Discernment also helps us learn what techniques are abusive to the tool and shorten its useful life. And it tells us when it is time to sharpen the tool. Using the tool beyond this time results in poor tool performance and more work to bring the tool to a high state of utility. And quite frankly, a tool that is repeatedly abused by neglecting sharpening is very difficult to bring to high function. You want the tool to be in a tight range of sharpness for dependability and repeatability.
Working in this manner requires high concentration, but the rewards are speed and efficiency and quality work.