Hand Tools

What the curators say vs. what they do
Response To:
Re: The experience factor ()

David Weaver
Williamsburg has curators. The curators sometimes give discussion about the areas (or maybe a lot? I haven't been there in a long time).

If the shop does one thing and the curator says another in a presentation, there will be two different answers.

I have trouble believing that an apprentice wouldn't get really good at sharpening really quickly under the criticism and guidance of a shop master using the tools. There is no similar situation now (who is really doing that much day in and day out work with hand tools and can afford an apprentice who is career minded?), and it sounds like the various schools around have teachers sharpening or keeping up shared tools. One of the comments on my videos (or somewhere else - I can't keep them straight now) was the time savings for the chisel sharpening method if the tools can be refreshed that quickly and hold up well.

We have to be realistic about the various "woodworking classes", they're vacation destinations. The point of the classes is to sell classes, not to make gainfully employed woodworkers. If a student can't handle sharpening, the person operating the class can either tell them it's not for them, or perhaps sell 8 more $750+ week long classes to that person in the future. Or dumb down the sharpening methods (and all methods) so that they yield instant success but become too cumbersome to really do more than once or twice.

All of the strong makers that I've ever seen have a desire to get the sense for themselves, but if they'd have worked with a good shop master, they are all smart enough that they could've been taught sharpening very quickly.

I think we have to be careful about one man shops and what they would've meant for apprentices where shops were basically small production. The economic drive would've been different and the shop master would've needed to cede some of the work (including dimensioning precisely and sharpening some or all of the tools) to someone else. We have a current climate of some specialists - I'd bet George wouldn't find a lot of beginners' edges suitable, but if he had a shop with 8 workers in it and a work volume that demanded everyone stay subscribed, then getting the workers to sharpen tools appropriately would suddenly make a lot more sense and if they could do it as well as the master (which shouldn't take that long - couple of months across the board for all of the tools in the shop?), there wouldn't be a great reason for the shop master to do it.

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