Reader Reactions: Oilstones, Track Saws, Fractal Burning

Reader Reactions: Oilstones, Track Saws, Fractal Burning

In response to last issue’s Q&A on flattening oilstones, we received a couple of responses from readers mentioning alternative methods they have used personally. – Editor

“A number of years ago, a couple of oilstones came to me from my father’s workshop when he passed away. They had been used for many years and were badly in need of flattening. I simply went to the driveway and, moving the stones in a figure-eight pattern on the concrete surface, flattened them in a few short minutes.  This removed the soiled stone and left the surfaces almost like new.  Some fresh lightweight oil, and I was back to sharpening again.” – Gordon Patnude

“I have just completed reading your article on using an oilstone or stone for sharpening. Years ago, I purchased a book on knife sharpening and the information enclosed suggested never using oil or even water while sharpening. They had attached photos magnified several hundred times showing the floating grit created when using oil or water made for an uneven sharpening on the device sharpened. This may seem rather strange with items commonly referred to as oilstones but, using the advice from this book, I have for years utilized this system when sharpening knives and such by hand. I had hoped to name this book to give you some reference but apparently long ago had given it to one of my four sons. I do own a Tormek grinder and have only tried using it without water once or twice without any noticeable difference in quality of the sharpening or differential in wear of the stone but didn’t expect to notice a wear difference. While most people will not spend a great deal of time learning to put a more sharp edge on a tool or a knife, I have been pleased with the help it provided to me over the past number of years. Thanks for the many interesting articles!”  – Dale Guibert

One reader helped Rob understand the background behind the “catbird seat” expression he used in his editorial. – Editor

“Included here is a very good link explaining what the catbird seat is: I was on an Audubon Society walk a couple of years ago when the leader heard a catbird. (You hear many birds before you see them). She then scanned the tops of the tallest trees, and there she found the catbird.” – Fred Howley

And, we heard some additional Feedback on track saws – this reader falls into the camp of “too expensive for me.” – Editor

“Hey, give us hobby guys a break about not owning a track saw. With the price of the track saw and needed accessories to use it maybe at best 10-12 times a year, the math wasn’t hard for me.  To cut a 4×8 Plywood longwise, extra track runs up the price and extra track is even needed, I
believe, to cut across 4 feet. For a long time, I used my existing saw and an 8-foot long aluminum angle piece  ($15) clamped down solid to guide
my Skilsaw. Most of my long cuts are 4 feet or less, and now I use my 50-inch Emerson All-In-One clamp ($41.00).  I just mark where I want to cut, put a premeasured block of wood which I keep handy to account for the distance between the guide and my saw blade, lay it against the line, and place the clamp on the other side. If my volume of commissioned projects was enough to warrant $565 + for a Festool track saw, I would really love to have one, but for 4 foot and shorter cuts, I doubt if my setup time takes any longer and I think the accuracy of the cut is a wash.
Thanks for your magazine, weekly emails and ideas.” – Ben Dady

Several readers also expressed concern about the safety of the process employed by the subject of last issue’s Today’s Woodworker article. – Editor

“While the subject article is interesting and illustrates some of the magnificent artistic effects fractal burning can produce, I found it appalling that there was so little emphasis on the extreme danger of using this process, particularly with DIY equipment. Here in Washington state, there have been at least two electrocution fatalities associated with using this process. It is also my understanding that some of the nationally recognized woodturning organizations have banned the use of the process for embellishing turned objects.

“I, personally, have witnessed the use of this process, which indeed is fascinating and is capable of producing spectacular results. However, handling extremely high voltage equipment by persons not trained in the use of such equipment, without the use of certified high-voltage protective equipment, is a fatality waiting to happen. I have seen some of the YouTube videos of this process by people using home brew DIY equipment and have been appalled at the cavalier attitude toward the dangers of the extremely high voltages used in this process. Many of them treat these high voltages as being no more dangerous than dealing with the 120/240 VAC residential service in their homes. Mr. Blomquist is very fortunate not to be on the list of fatalities. He cites the voltage of his DIY equipment as 2000VAC — I would not be surprised if it is between two and five times that much, especially since he noted that he used multiple transformers to increase the voltage!” – Paul M. Stoops

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