Sharpening Matters

We know it does, of course, but there are times then when I watch people struggling in their work because they either don’t realise there is a need to regularly sharpen up on the job, or that sharpening is a regimen you must adopt as part of the workflow, or you don’t know what sharp is or, and this is the big one, you just refuse to sharpen when you should. In any and all of these cases, without an ethic toward keen edges, the work unquestioningly suffers.p1560442

So, Phil and I put this together yesterday as I was about to sharpen up at the end of the workday. It’s nice on the next day to pick up edge tools ready for use. I often go through my everyday chisels planes and saws to have them ready. In this video I sharpened 7 chisels, two planes, a knife and three back saws. I didn’t take too long to work through coarse, medium and fine stones and then stropping 30 times on the strop for each of them. Here is the 30 second video time-lapsed.

11 Comments

  1. Nick on 23 September 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Before you all head off to the pub to celebrate Friday could you look at the link, I don’t think it’s working.



    • Nick on 23 September 2016 at 5:32 pm

      My mistake I thought it was supposed to go to youtube not the facebook…. The facebook is blocked on my work network. Carry on to the pub.



  2. Joe on 23 September 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Wait! You sharpen your saws everyday? I sharpen chisles /plane iron as they need them but I was told saws hold an edge longer and a weekend woodworker can go 2-3 months before it needs sharpened again

    I have some work to do when i get home!



    • Paul Sellers on 23 September 2016 at 8:53 pm

      No, no! Once a week, once a month. Not every day. Where did that come from?



      • Joe on 24 September 2016 at 12:39 am

        Oh! Silly me.

        I guess I understood you wrong. Reading the post again I see you wrote “everyday chisels, planes, saws” and I think I interpreted that as “ever day I do this process”

        I guess you meant that you do this to the tools you use every day.



  3. Ansgar on 24 September 2016 at 10:54 am

    Can you give a rough estimate how long the process took you in real time?
    The main reason that I am reluctant to re-sharpen my tools often enough is that my time estimates are still based on how long it took me to achieve the initial edge sharpness, flatten the sole oft the plane etc. when I first restored my eBay finds.



    • James on 24 September 2016 at 11:22 am

      Backs of chisels and plane irons only need flattening and polishing once, and the sole of the plane as needed probably every five years.
      I reckon on 2-3 minutes per chisel or iron. Paul does it much quicker I reckon, but I’m still training my body to get the movements down to a tee.



    • Paul Sellers on 24 September 2016 at 12:42 pm

      The 7 chisels, two #4 planes, 10″, 12″ and 14# back saws and the knife took just over 30 comfortable minutes. I topped one of the saws too.



  4. Scott Smith on 28 September 2016 at 12:10 pm

    That vise you used to sharpen your saw would make a great project on Master Classes. I know you showed how to sharpen with the piece of wood with a slit cut through clamped in the vise but to have a permanent appliance like that would be great. I could be wrong but it didn’t look too complicated. Just an idea.



    • Paul Sellers on 28 September 2016 at 12:36 pm

      The one I used is wonderfully made using a knuckle joint which would be a good training project, you are right. Though a flap hinge would work fine this one is a refined piece of woodwork and metalwork too. I just love it. I will look at the possibility of a video too.



  5. charlie w on 24 September 2017 at 11:53 pm

    For me my workflow is as follows:-
    For my shouder plane I prefer a soft steel for the blade (veritas shoulder plane grade a1 steel) what happens when the blade goes dull is the tip curves over forcing me to sharpen, thus not tearing out trying to use a blunt plane but being a1 grade easy to sharpen.

    For my small general plane I use a mid rang blade, keeps its edge for longer but slightly harder to sharpen.

    I use a set of shapton wetstones.

    then for