WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 81


#4 -- Manage your expectations

• Old, abused tools will be tough to restore and will likely never give the same results as new, quality tools.? Well cared for old tools can be real gems and save a lot of money. If you want to go the old tool route you will need to educate yourself and understand that there are few certainties. New tools are a more certain thing but with a higher price. Does your work run more to carpentry or do you expect to be doing fine dovetails in hardwood? Your needs will vary.

• Be very wary of the tool pushers who would have you believe that you must have the latest this or that. There is actually very little that is truly new.

#5 -- Master one Technique

• Make decisions and pick a system that’s effective, fast, convenient and works for you.

• Understand the pros and cons of your equipment.

• Sharpen often; stick with it. You will not master anything if you don’t do it.

• If you are just starting and/or don’t sharpen much, you should probably use a honing guide. But do not assume that a honing guide is necessary to become a good sharpener or that it will make you a better sharpener. Only time can do that. Generations of craftsmen did just fine without honing guides. Many still do. Of course, you have to learn to sharpen freehand anyway because for some tools, you have no choice.

• When faced with choices I recommend O1 steel over harder or tougher options unless, of course, a lot of your work will be in abrasive hardwoods. Ignore the promise of longer edge retention and sharpen more often. It’s good for you!

• Don’t forget to enjoy what you are doing! When you look at this as a positive part of woodworking, it will cease to be the chore you dread.