Hand Tools Archive

Re: Probably closer to 86.25º

Sgian Dubh
"I don't have the experience that you do with teaching individuals, so I don't know what's practical and what's not at this point for beginners, and I'm sure once I write up all of this stuff, I'll be quoted as saying all sorts of things that the report doesn't actually say, or linked to making recommendations that I never made."

Well, when it comes to teaching, if that's ever likely for you, and specifically teaching sharpening to beginners, my advice is use the KISS principle. That is, don't get too technical: all this stuff you've been outlining in this hand tool forum would probably blow the mind of beginners, bore them to hell and back, and more than likely put them off the idea of ever continuing developing woodworking skills.

So, teaching freehand sharpening, my method because I can't stand all that pointless farting about with prissy guides and all the rest of the nonsense that goes with it, consists of a basic combination oilstone, some 3 in 1 oil, a rag, a blunt chisel (or plane iron), and a demonstration of how to hold the blunt tool as it's whisked up and down the stone, followed by a bit of flipping of the sharpened tool on the palm of the hand, and back to work.

If a combination oilstone isn't to hand, any other stone type will do, e.g., Japanese water stone, ceramic, diamond, and I'll even tolerate demonstrating the technique using abrasive paper on a flat surface (another, in my biased and cynical opinion, overly precious and pointlessly complex sharpening method involving too many ever finer grades of abrasive paper).

Once the learner(s) have got the basics, you can move on to discussing and demonstrating methods for creating a more refined edge, e.g., moving on to finer stones, and a bit of leather and fine abrasive to finish off to get a really sharp edge.

As I strongly suspect you are aware, I'm not into making an essential and basic skill (sharpening) into a complex, mysterious and unnecessarily difficult process. As I said earlier, I'm a Sharp'n'Go man: I generally sharpen as much as I need for a particular job, and no more, but I can and do sharpen to a higher standard if the task in front of me demands it.

As a final aside, in this response I've deliberately not mentioned the regrinding process - I've said enough already. Slainte.

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