Warning. Sharpening is a sensitive subject for many people. By reading beyond this point, you accept that you will almost certainly encounter the Dementors of the woodworking world; formally known as 'Sharpening Purists'

These creatures lurk woodworking forums, comment sections, blogs, you name it; in search of unsuspecting victims to inflict their 'uncompromising knowledge' on all things sharpening related. This knowledge doesn't have to be supported by any research and is often delivered in such a blunt manner that it comes across as insulting. Suffice to say, if you come across a woodworking dementor, don't even bother trying to argue your case.

Common phrases to look out for:

'You don't need a honing guide, just do it freehand'

'Oilstones are better than waterstones'

'You don't need a strop, use your hand!'

'Tormek? Hollow grinding? Are you mad?!'

'Why are you sharpening to 6,000 grit? How pointless!'

'I've been woodworking for a lot longer than you have, young boy!'

Instead of trying to defend my case against these people, I go by the rule that if it works for me then it must be right. I encourage you to do the same. Of course there is no harm in taking advice from other people, but try to take that advice from people who give it critically, not forcefully.

The skill of sharpening is something that has been passed down for generations; think of it as a giant game of Chinese whispers. If you question these 'sharpening purists' on where they got their knowledge from, the response is:

'My tutor told me to'

Thats it. All of their knowledge is predicated on what someone else told them to do. And they were trying to force that onto you next. What's to say their tutor was giving unsupported advice too?


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© 2019 by Matt Estlea.