Thursday, February 16, 2017

Workshop Maintenance

I've spent some evenings and weekends working on a toddler bed frame for some friends recently (post to follow, sooner or later), and reached a point where I need to wait for someone else to finish their part.  This past weekend I built an English layout square, mostly for practice:  it's got legs somewhere around 22" long, which is bigger than is really useful in my tiny shop.  I hope to post an article about that either tomorrow or Monday.

But once that was done, I looked around and realized I'd been neglecting my tools recently.  Oh, I do a quick touchup with a strop while I'm working, but a few of my planes weren't cutting well anymore.  Last night I started working on getting everything back into top shape.  A lot of people seem to dislike sharpening, which I can understand:  it's a lot of time and effort that could otherwise be spent working on wood.  I still enjoy it, though, because every time I sharpen my tools, I get a better edge than I did the time before.

Last night I went over the cutters for my #3, #4, #5, and one of my block planes.  The block plane is low angle, and was a particular triumph, since it never cut right to begin with.  I finally got out some coarse sandpaper and and a honing jig, and re-ground the bevel.  Finally, it works well enough to get a good cut across end grain.

Next up are chisels:   none of them are as sharp as they could be, and a few of them I've never actually sharpened, since I haven't needed something that width.  Once those are done, I may tackle my dovetail saw:  it's gotten dull enough that I don't really use it, which means it's time to fix it up.


  1. Maintaining tools and the workshop generally is actually quite a task. But once it is done it feels really good.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the toddler bed frame.

    1. Doesn't it?

      I look forward to getting some photos up. I have a few process photos that I should try to get up this weekend.

  2. Glad to hear someone else sharpens this way - in batches. My biggest challenge is remembering which tools have been used enough to need it since it's often several weeks since the last time. I don't mind sharpening but would rather not spend time on an edge that's still good.

    1. I try not to, but I've had less shop time than I'd like recently, and maintenance has taken second place to productivity. I definitely hit a point where it had to be done, though.

      I generally try to keep up: touching up a chisel while I'm using it takes less than a minute, so it's not too onerous. I do go through once in a while and try to touch up everything, though, usually at the end of a project or just before starting a new one.

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