Sharpening, however, I feel should be one of the first skill sets a woodworker learns. I am still learning to sharpen, and every time I learn something new I see a world of possibilities open. Sharp tools are easier to control, can take more precise cuts and are generally safer to work with. Tools like plane irons, chisels, saws and carving tools are easy to sharpen once the basic concepts are understood. As with any skill, perfect practice makes perfect execution and the right set of stones (sharpening stones that is) will aid in that practice.
When sharpening odd shaped tools it helps to have a stone that is both easy to maneuver and is the right shape for the job. This 4000 grit slipstone is a waterstone and is excellent for putting a sharp edge on gouges and other rounded tools. Both sides can be used to sharpen as one is convex and one is concave. It gets soaked in water for about a half an hour prior to sharpening and uses a little water on the surface during sharpening. Sandpaper or honing film on a dowel can be used to polish the cutting surface if you don't have a range of slipstones. I also use the ceramic files I discussed in a previous blog entry. I'll be doing a short instructional video on using this slipstone as well as some other shaped stones. This particular stone is a replacement for another one just like it that met its fate when it jumped off a shelf onto my concrete workshop floor. A tragic end, it was so young...
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