We had a new intake of students from around the globe today, Sierra Leone, some from the USA , east and west, Netherlands and Spain. Oh yes, and the UK. They will be here for nine days and I am always surprised how easily people from different continents can totally connect in just a matter of minutes when wood and woodworking are the catalyst uniting them. Of course it is true of other crafts too. Working with your hands seems to open up the whole atmosphere in ways machines don’t or can’t and that’s true with those in IT occupations too. It doesn’t take too long to break the ice in class and to then leave the world behind and outside. Gathering around the bench and in the first hour we discuss different options for sharpening ranging from using guides to the different abrasive types, angles, shapes of bevels and so on. After an hour they are ready to do it themselves and from here on that’s exactly what happens.
First we allocate benches according to the height of the person and the benches we have corresponding to that height. We keep our workshops here to a maximum of ten but usually stop registering at eight. We keep two extra spaces for scholarships and emergencies when couples want to come together. Our lowest bench height is 38” so if people are shorter and need a lower bench we provide a platform. Otherwise we jack benches up to suit and have some extra tall ones.
There is an issue surrounding sharpening at workbench normal height, hence this post. We have a couple of sharpening stations in the shop and these are set at the 38” height. The works fine for taller people as they need the lower height to gain overhead pressure as they sharpen. On the other hand shorter people need extra height. I have taken to keeping a 1 1/2” x by 3” section of wood 18” long under the bench. When I need the height adjustment I kick the stick into position which is bout 18” from the face of the bench and parallel to it. Placing my heels on the stick elevates me to the ideal height for sharpening, which is the only task I need a bench adjustment to work with. It works, feels safe, try it. See if it works for you.