WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 77


Sharpening is often called a gateway skill. While essential, in my opinion, the good news is that sharpening does not need to be very difficult, even if it never fully becomes fun!

In this article I want to offer some advice based on my experience as a woodworker, teacher and writer and as one who has studied sharpening rather closely. Advice that I hope cuts to the core of why woodworkers fail to become good sharpeners; or, to state the point more positively, advice that I hope will save you a pile of frustration and guide you to becoming a better sharpener and a better woodworker.

The professional woodworkers I know, at least those who use hand tools regularly and well, take sharpening for granted. There are lots of reasons for that. Obviously, they sharpen a lot and they’ve been doing it for a long time. Their methods are simple, straightforward and fast. They typically reflect the traditional techniques they were taught, methods that emphasized not wasting time on non-revenue generating tasks. Many amateurs I’ve encountered over the years follow their lead. Unfortunately, many others tend to make sharpening more complicated and stressful than it needs to be.