Skip to main content

Thoughts after a Sharpening Session w/ Water Stones

Fallers, or choppers, as they are known locally, work in pairs. An outsider is impressed by the number of tools a set of choppers carry around with them in a Redwood operation-two axes, two eight-foot saws, one twelve-foot saw, two dozen plates, one dozen shims, ten wedges, two sledges, one pair of gun stocks, one plumb bob, twelve springboards, six pieces of staging.

H.I. Bower, from a speech presented at the Pacific Logging Conference, 1936


It took me almost 2 hours to sharpen all the plane blades that are on the cutting board, I made a pact with myself never to let the blades get in that bad of shape again. There were more blades that needed sharpening, but that meant going out to the garage to dig out the low speed grinder from the furniture and other stuff left behind by the previous owners that still need to go to Good Will. Another day will be set aside for grinding more edged tools. All I ready needed were the 2 blades for the No. 4 planes, likewise for the No. 3 and 1 for the No. 7.


Several years ago I purchased a set of 4 water stones after getting tired of using Wet/Dry sandpaper fixed to a piece of plate glass. I am still ambivalent about the water stones: there is the soaking before using, the almost constant flushing away of the swarf and then flattening the stones on a very regular basis. Granted that 8000 grit stone makes metal very, very shiny, there are times when I miss the ease of using the "Scary Sharp" system of sand paper. After using DMT diamond stones at work, I often think I should have picked up a set, they don't have to be soaked, they cut quickly so you can do the final honing on some 2000 grit sandpaper or extra hard oil stone. I can't say enough about the wonderful Lee Valley MK II Honing Guide, the best guide I have ever used. I enjoy the fact that you can repeat the angle that you need every time.

To be honest, I think the best sharpening system I have ever seen is the one that James Krenov used in his The Fine Art of Cabinet Making. A simple hand cranked grinding wheel with a shop built tool rest is used to establish the bevel and then the blade is honed on an oil stone. How simple and elegant, a part of a handmade life.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

The New Workshop: New Roof, Snow, Rain, Sub-zero Temperatures

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!

Author Unknown


Cold weather and snow delayed me in getting down the corrugate tin roofing on the new workshop. January 3rd proved to be a day of snow flurries and sunshine which at least allowed me to install the roofing. Then it snowed six inches.


The temperature fell to -5 degrees Fahrenheit and it kept snowing...


...until there was 22 inches of snow on the ground. And the temperature fell some more to register -14 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer.



Yesterday, the temps warmed up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind gusting up to 50 mph and we lost power for about two hours.

This morning we woke up to rain and warmer weather. I am very glad that I got the new workshop "dried in" before all this snow fell.



The high reached 40 degrees today with rain and snow flurries, there is a good six inches of slush underneath all the snow. No wind to speak of today, though…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…