When a class begins, on the first hour of the first day, we walk through the processes of sharpening different tools. Inevitably, from the first questions asked, we must work through the modern-day myths and mysteries surrounding sharpening to restore sanity to an otherwise quick and simple task. Japanese stones versus oilstones and diamond powder and paste, hollow grinding and micro-bevels and so much more have become part of a confusing mass of information overload. Even with the best intensions, it’s become problematic for new woodworkers to really understand what they really need to get the edge and they end up going down one rabbit trail after another buying this kit and that gizmo only to find they’ve wasted much time and money. Thankfully we can present what really happens at the bench and no one feels anything but a sense of being set free. I know, it might seem a bit exaggerated, but most people seeking genuine insight have become confused over basic issues just like this and that’s why we spend time dismantling and unpacking things to get to what at the end of the day is only a simple abrasive issue.
We are starting this season with a two-day introduction to woodworking with out Discovering Woodworking workshop that starts this coming Friday and we always start every class with crisp, newly sharpened edge tools. Why? Well, first off I discovered that it’s important to know what truth is to begin with, then, when a lie stands in truth’s stead, everyone will know what a truth is. When the chisel hits the wood for the first time it will be sharpened to around 15,000-grit and the wood will peel away like a hot knife through butter. They will from that time on know what the difference is between sharp and sharp. So planes and chisels are ready to go. Oh, they will also know what chisels and planes will work for all of their needs for about the next 50 years without compromise too. We’ll displace the scared-to-sharpen syndrome with a new confidence in about five minutes and show how not to rely on any mechanical grinder apart from perhaps a once-a-year need to grind out a nicked chisel or plane iron. It’s always freeing knowing you are gaining control.
The next nine-day Foundational Course this winter season follows quickly on the heels of this one with ten days of new filming in between. The snowdrops are already here and they will stay long enough for everyone to enjoy them before the Welsh national flower, the daffodil, skirting the highways and byways in mass swathes of golden yellow, replaces them beneath the shadows of a snow capped mountain range of Snowdonia. Sounds a bit like a vacation brochure? Well, it’s so much more and I am as excited today as I was in 1988 when I taught my very first workshop!