Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sharpening Extravaganza !!

     It's been a while since I've added something to the blog but lots has been going on.  I'm somewhat in limbo regarding the TV lift cabinet I'm supposed to be doing.  This is the job through an interior designer and her client has accepted the bid but ..... no deposit check yet.  This one will require a lot of composition material which is made fresh once I order it with a 3-4 week turn around time.  I won't order it (or the $2100.00 lift mechanism) until I get the deposit.  In the meantime, here's what's been going on in the shop.
     The main thing I want to get accomplished before the end of summer is my sample for the pistol case that I want to take with me to the different cowboy and civil war re-enactment activities.  That work is going well but the curly maple is challenging to smooth.  I prefer the feel and appearance of a planed surface rather than a sanded one -- there is a difference.  Because of that I decided it's time to work over my planes.  As with most woodworkers, sharpening doesn't rate up there on the list of favorite things to do but once you're done it'll give you a great sense of satisfaction.  Interestingly enough, a friend of mine came over to the shop and while we were talking about wood in general he asked about joining pieces edge to edge so he could build a table.  Since I utilize a lot of hand tools I use a hand plane.  He mentioned that, although he's tried many times, he just couldn't quite seem to get the hang of it.  I suppose it boils down to practice, practice, and more practice and then having a properly sharpened and set up tool makes a huge difference.  During the 31 years of teaching, I always emphasized using hand tools because they are more affordable.  This way you can accomplish fine work without breaking the bank.  My sharpening technique has developed over the years and I've gone from using oil stones to water stones.  I remember every major vacation I'd be running the planes (about 40 or so) over the oil stones and never got the kind of edge I'm able to get with the water stones.

What I've done to contain the mess associated with sharpening and water stones especially, is to use a baking pan to contain it all.  This really keeps the mess in one, easy to clean area.  The system I use is the Veritas from Lee Valley.  This particular blade is for my smooth plane and I finally broke down and ordered their roller that helps to camber the blade.  I've attempted doing this by hand but this gives much more control.  Besides this blade, I cambered a spare blade for my jack plane, the straight for the jack, the blade for my #7 Jointer and, while I was at it, decided the rabbet plane needed it too.  Was the morning's labor worth it?

When I look at the shavings I was able to take on a piece of Canarywood and then the finish on it there's no doubt!  You can't really see how transparent the shavings are and can't feel the surface of the wood but just take my word for it -- it is well worth the effort and time.

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