Hey - are youse blokes on holiday or something? Locked away with your dust
masks,,, err plague masks in place? Suddenly lots of comment on this so-nearly
> I've never developed the ability to achieve a good edge while honing hand-
And he’ll get no more crispy cool cider from this corner of the porch until I’ve
taken him over to this bench with the 6 inch grinder and the pair of stones, one
fine, one a touch coarser, and set about him. Educating him, that is.
First off, you put a hollow grind on your blade, with a 6” grinder. I happen to
use 8” but this is for training, right. Take the bevel to the edge, being
careful not to burn it. You may, whilst learning, go close but not ’to’ the
edge. A hand grinder makes it less likely that you will burn it, but it’s well
capable of doing so, so practice on an old blade a few times if you’re unsure.
Their is a sweet spot that Scott G lives in where the grit is whisking off metal
with minimal friction. Too little pressure, and you’re rubbing and burning, too
much and you’re increasing the friction and burning.
So you now have a bevel which is very much not flat.
Move over to the stones.
Look at your bevel - ig you took it to a wire edge, go to the smooth stone, if
there is a tiny line of light from where you came very close, you may wish to
start with a coarser stone. Once you have done this a couple of times you will
just ‘know’ where to start.
Take the blade in a comfortable grip and place the bevel on to the stone. I use
a delicate touch with my left hand to rock it up and down on the bevel. Do the
smae. You will feel when it touches the stone at both top and bottom of the
hollow ground bevel. It gives a click and you will feel the pivot point move
from front to back of the bevel.
When you the blade bottomed on both edges of the bevel, lift the back side a bit
and take a couple of strokes. You won’t burn it on an oilstone or water stone,
so you can bear down ‘enough’ - you are, after all, trying to rip off bits from
a very hard material. 3 or 4 should do it. If you were beginning on the
coarser stone with more to remove, then check and repeat. If you had the bevel
to the edge, then 3 or 4 on a smooth stone will do it. (not the 8000 grit yuppy
waterstones, but a normal, smooth carborundum stone)
Hold down the back of the blafe onto the stone and wipe over to remove the wire
If you are sharpening a best blade for final work, the procedure is the same,
bit you are then allowed to use your yuppy stone and strop both faces of the
For everyday, go to work, such as Mick was describing, the above sharpening
process is very quick - you don’t give a damn about the angles much. Just
recognise that point where the bevel edges are both registered, and lift a bit.
When you’ve done this few times you don’t feel that register because you have
removed so much of the primary bevel material, so it’s back to the grinder for a
hollow tune up. After you’ve done this enough your hands will ‘know’ the right
angle to maintain, and you can do the olf guys thing of cutting back a primary
flat bevel on the coarse stone, then do the same ‘lift a bit’ to get the
secondary bevel and re sharpen until the face you’re sharpening is so wide you
need to take back the main bevel again.
There are, of course variations, but the notion of the hollow grind giving you
the initial ‘feel’ to allow a couple of swipes by hand to restore a sharp edge
is a revelation.
You will accomplish more woodwork, with a sharp edge, than all the tomfoolery
with jigs and precise angles, because it is the work of about a minute or less
to give yourself a newly sharp blade. so you do it more often.
That obsidian edge that is sharp to a single atom width. Imagine if atoms were
car tyres. that one edge is suported by two behind it. imagine how small the
contact point is between that leading atom and the two that support it. easy
for it to break away. Now the edge is duller. Repeat.
Now consider what we do. Regardless of the fancy expensive steel of the blade
and all the marketing hype, as soon as it is used it is dulled. but that first
stroke is pure bliss.
You’re watching the lads in ten acre field mowing with scythes. One comes near,
with the slow and steady sway of the 3 foot blade laying down the hay into a
band parallel to that of his marras’ he stops to sharpen the scythe, taking his
scythe stone from the wet pocket container at his belt and runs it over the
paper thin blade, Out and back, out and back.
You ask him “how often do you need to sharpen it?” and get back the answer honed
by the experience of many years
“Well now, that depends on whether the field is dry or damp and how soft the
stems are. And when I want a break, I sharpen the scythe.” and he puts back
the stone, take a hold of the work polished snedd and settles back to the
curious waving gait of the mower.
Which suggests that you need to do plenty of lightweight sharpening to keep up
that blissful experience. As Scott said - It’s a zen experience, working with
the wood to discover how best to shape it or shave it to leave the best finish
and respect the way it grew. A minute now and agin to consider, and to re-
sharpen in a process that doesn’t need full attention to read numbers and sight
up jigs is one of those zen moments. You stay connected with the job.
There - a bit philosophical, as it’s being a Sunday and all. Makes me want to
go in the workshop and cut those oak slices for top and bottom of a wee box
that’s a making.