I’ve never been particularly adept at sharpening my edge tools (chisels, plane irons, etc.). It’s not that I couldn’t get them sharp enough to work, it’s just that I’ve always experienced inconsistent results. One time, I’d get a blade so sharp, it simply glided through hard oak and maple. The next time I sharpened that blade, I’d be lucky if it didn’t tear its way through soft pine. Freehand sharpening always seemed like something that would take decades to get right (an opinion no doubt influenced by the fact that the best tool sharpener I know has made nearly 95 trips around the sun). The trick seems to be locking your wrists and fingers as you pass the tool over the stone, to keep the honing bevel at the same angle during every pass. Fail this, and you end up with a rounded bevel face and an edge that’s none too sharp. Yes, hollow grinding helps, as the tip and heel of the bevel are easier to keep flat on the stone. But unless the tool has a wide bevel, like a big chisel or heavy plane iron, even hollow grinding is no guarantee.
In case you’re taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, you’re in luck! The February print issue of Woodworker’s Journal is on its way and should arrive while you’re enjoying the holiday respite. We’ll help fill that free time with some fresh woodworking goodness! Here’s the inside scoop on what we think is a great new issue.
Four Solid Projects: Ian Kirby presents a stylish Dinette Set that should fit neatly into a smaller kitchen or breakfast nook. He’s keeping the lumber budget affordable here, using longleaf pine instead of more costly hardwood alternatives. Butt joints, glue and screws will keep this project straightforward to build, as well. Or, you can work off some of those holiday calories building Frank Grant’s Sharpening Cart—a clever unit for sharpening all of your turning tools. It features a three-drawer cabinet, metal worksurface and two tip-out racks for keeping those gouges and chisels within easy reach. And, Kenneth Minnaert builds a handsome Weekend Tambour Gift Box from contrasting wood scraps. It presents itself as well as any gift you’ll hide inside it! All three projects include measured drawings and step-by-steps to help you along.