Saturday, February 15, 2014

More Thoughts on Sharpening

I've been thinking about the process of sharpening. Thinking, dangerous thing to do, could fry the few remaining working brain cells and/or come up with something really dumb but what the hey. Sometimes I need to write about it to see if I'm on the right track or off chasing rabbits.

Sharpening is kinda like religion or tribalism, your method is the only true way or you are a seeker trying this month's way to enlightenment....knowing truth must be in the way of the latest guru. Been there, tried most of the ways, found they all work, some easier, some faster, some a PITA, but bottom line if you scrape enough metal off both sides of the iron you will get a sharp edge.

Here comes the kicker, What's sharp? Is it a near perfect meeting of two planes at what angle? Can it be too sharp? What about sharp enough? Cut to the chase, here's what has been bugging me: I think we spend too much time and attention looking for the perfect edge, for irons that are sharper than sharp. As has been said "Your chisel, plane iron, whatever, can't be too sharp". I think it can and I think we have lost the reason for stropping. It isn't to make the iron sharper but to dull it, to slightly "dub" the iron. Irons straight off the stones when using a jig on high number water stones or a machine like a Tormek are sharper than an iron that has been stropped. You can feel the difference in the first test cut of end grain. The un-stropped iron will make hair die just by approaching but at the first touch of wood the edge fractures where a stropped iron is not quite perfect, not as scary sharp but if sharpened at an appropriate angle will be "sharp enough" and will remain so for much longer than an un-stropped iron.

Fire away, tell me I'm full of stuff, tell me the reason I'm wrong. I got's to know.

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