- Originally published Jun 23, 2018.
Today was about sharp. There’s a saying in the woodworking world:
Sharp solves most problems.
Sharp tools make things possible that can’t be done any other way. One of the parts of the craft of woodworking that was in danger of being lost for a long time was sharpening steel.
I’ve worked hard for a long time to get good at it. I kept trying different systems until I was reasonably happy with the results and how long it took me to get there. I use a combination of diamond stones and Japanese water stones. Here I’m getting the edge of a plane iron ready for final honing. I’m using a DMT Coarse Dia-Sharp diamond stone. It’s not a stone, it’s made of steel, it’s informally called a stone out of tradition.
Here’s a little video showing me sharpening a plane iron. This is just a few seconds. I spent a couple of hours sharpening tools today.
Many, if not most, people have not used an insanely sharp tool. They are a total joy to use. Here’s that plane iron ready to go to work. Sharp is shiny.
What can sharp do that modern stuff can’t? Well, it can do this. There is no finish on this yet. I don’t sand wood, that kills the iridescence. The more formal name for it is chatoyancy, in case you happen to want to know. 😎 Light bounces from the exposed cells of the wood in different directions and causes a beautiful glow.
Here’s another angle to show the chatoyancy a little more, just because I like it.
Here’s the magic tool that did that. It’s an ECE Primus Reform Smooth Plane that I got in the 1980s. It’s still the best modern commercial tool I have.
The sole of this plane is Lignum Vitae, the second hardest wood in the world. The hardest is not much harder so this is very hard wood and a great sole for a plane. It’s also beautiful.
That was it for today. The next step is to make the top. Stay tuned.