Hand Tools doings #20: Sharpening - from frustration to pretty close to elation

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 04-26-2008 05:44 AM 1452 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: Sharpening frustrations Part 20 of Hand Tools doings series Part 21: Plane refurbishing job »

Still working on sharpening my tools on the way to making a dovetail project. I must say if you told me even two short years ago that I would be proud to post the following pictures – I would have rolled my eyes. Now, however, the scene changes to being able to finally post those pictures.

So here are my first real shavings with a blade that I sharpened.

The first picture is edge shavings


Here is a pile of face grain shavings.


My chisels are getting better also!



Sharper chisel——better dovetail


I still have a ways to go but I think I’m getting there.

I really appreciate all the help and tips you all have been giving me. I can see myself doing that dovetail project pretty soon.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

10 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4011 days

#1 posted 04-26-2008 06:12 AM

Sharp tools can make all the difference Betsy.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3806 days

#2 posted 04-26-2008 12:02 PM

Awesome. I love sharpening.

-- Eric at

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3897 days

#3 posted 04-26-2008 12:27 PM

I don’t love sharpening, but I love sharp tools.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#4 posted 04-26-2008 01:21 PM

I agree with rikkor, somewhat. Sharpening is like mowing the grass. It is not something I love doing but looking at the end result makes the process worthwhile. But it is an epiphany of sorts when you begin using sharp tools. All sorts of new possibilities open up for you.

Have fun.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GMoney's profile


158 posts in 3826 days

#5 posted 04-26-2008 01:53 PM

Nice job Betsy! The tools look very sharp now and it will be a pleasure to make your dovetails with them. I agree too that your dovetails look great now!

-- Greg, CT

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 3736 days

#6 posted 04-26-2008 02:02 PM

I really fall short when it comes to keeping my tools sharp as they should be. I kinda sharpen then only when I have to. Bad me. And there are many times when I have to.

-- JJohn

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3791 days

#7 posted 04-26-2008 02:22 PM

wow those look really sharp. it does make everything so much easier to. my chisels are so bad that they won’t hold an edge for more that a couple of minutes. its good to see that you’ve got the hang of sharpening and are now producing some really nice and sharp tools. that will help you out a lot along the way. keep up the great work.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3806 days

#8 posted 04-26-2008 02:46 PM

For me it’s relaxing. Something about the sound of the chisels going back and forth across the stones, I dunno, it’s kind of like a zen moment or something. A messy zen moment.

-- Eric at

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3918 days

#9 posted 04-26-2008 05:11 PM

Thanks guys. I’m certainly on my way.

Eric—- I think you are right about the zen thing. But I think, for me anyway, that applies to all the hand tool stuff. It’s so quite and relaxing. Not that I plan on giving up my power tools, but the power zen is not as relaxing as the hand tool zen.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 3794 days

#10 posted 04-26-2008 06:48 PM

That’s what I’m talkin’ about – nice razor sharp tools and shavings you hate to throw away. I save my shavings and bring them camping with me to sacrifice them to the woodworking gods. The gods hav smiled upon me for the most part so far…..

-- --Chuck

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