It’s the seemingly small and insignificant that often make the biggest differences in life and especially is this so in all and any craftworking. I wasn’t sure about the significance of this but thought you might find it interesting. Though I have used and tried just about every chisel type there is out there, and from the highest-end down to the lowest, these Record blue-chip chisels were one of my earliest sets from their first introduction which I believe was in the late 60’s early 70’s of the last century. I used them daily until 2009 and replaced them with my Aldi chisels (£8 for a set of four) on my return to live in the UK. I never had any issues with them but I did run my more vintage Marples, Wards and Sorby’s alongside them throughout the same period.
You can see that even though I did not use a grinder to grind the bevels and such throughout the 40-year period of use, I still reduced the length by over an inch. Had I ever ground the chisels with an electric grinder, they would not be here today and likely would have been gone a long time ago. I suppose I say this because I can take five or six dulled chisel of any type or make from my few hours working them and restore the edges to surgically sharp levels in just 3 minutes. Using something like say a mechanical system or just an electric grinder of some other kind takes several times as long and the edges are in no way any sharper or better.
Someone commented recently on how their purchase of a particular grinder was something he wished he’d done years before. He went on to describe it as a “brilliant” step, and something “certainly worth the investment.” I realised that this was a long-term woodworker who never discovered the speed, accuracy, versatility and freedoms of using non-mechanical methods to get the edges he wanted; and there could be good reason for that, hence his comment. But I did ask myself, ‘how could this be?’ Well, we all have different needs. I don’t want to eschew the reality that some of us do need such equipment for different, justifiable reasons. We do. As an instance, when I had over a hundred edge tools to sharpen before a new class I did use mechanical methods. This was to start out with sharp tools only. After that, all of the students, over 6,500 of them over a 20- year period, all sharpened by hand methods only and all but the odd one or two of them achieved sharp edge consistently and successful. Whereas I do understand the frustration some people feel in starting out and not quite getting that pristine edge straight off, I have found that many if not most do not persevere to achieve what they hope for. I encourage everyone to keep striving for the freedom freehand sharpening brings and to never give up. And here is a video to help see what I mean. Five chisels to surgically sharp in under three minutes.