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Keeping it Sharp

It's not just about keeping it sharp but knowing when you need to stop and sharpen up.

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The more time I spend around woodworking tools and especially hand woodworking tools the more aware I become about the need to keep things sharp. It's something that is often said as part of introductions and sayings like "There is nothing so dangerous as a blunt tool" or "A blunt tool is the second most dangerous thing in the workshop after this one" are often flippantly raised but it's not till you start to gain experience that you begin to understand what that means.

When I first started out I had no real idea about what sharp was. I just thought it might be my technique that needed tweaking or that it was just harder than it looked. I tried sharpening things when I could and practicing my technique on the stones that I had but the part that was missing was knowing when a tool was sharp. I remember trying to plane the flat side of a panel I was making for my Hi-Fi Stand. I was really struggling to get the plane to cut something sensible when the tutor came over and said "That probably needs sharpening" and offered to do it for me. What a difference! It's one of those lessons that stick with you. Now when I feel the plane missing or not cutting how I expect I will, more often than not, stop and sharpen up.

Making the sharpening easy is a key skill to learn.

This then applies to all your tools and keeping them sharp. Taking the time to stop and think how could this process or procedure be sharpened right now?

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