One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen so far when it comes to tools is to “Buy good tools, and know how to sharpen them.” I’ve reached the point where I can now gaze above the forest of junk, beyond the sea of low quality mass produced woodworking equipment. The companies name is fitting. Veritas. Truth.
When in college, while dirt poor, I use to get the Lee Valley catalogs and sit for hours on end neglecting homework thumbing through those beautiful catalogs. There is a special sort of beauty in something that not only is functional, but graceful as well. Now, I can actually begin to purchase some of these amazing products.
At one time I thought that a product must be of high enough quality to accomplish a given task otherwise it would not be purchased and hence the company would get no profit so another, better product would take its place. I now know how wrong I was.
I purchased a Lee Valley MKII sharpening system and have spent the last 5 hours of my day using it, enjoying it, and most of all marvelling in a quality tool. The blisters on my hands have taught me that my chisels, while sharp, are junk. That my plane, while sharp, is extra special junk. (The only reason I’m not still using it is the blisters really started to hurt)
Though the saddness and embarassment of trying to sharpen a $2 chisel on an $80 jig is evident, it is also awe-inspiring. I have never worked with japanese water stones, again, a thing of beauty. The old oil stones stamped with “Kennametal” that I have been using or the Norton stone even sounded harsh, cut slow, and were messy. This japanese stone is smooth, almost purrs, and cuts like it should be plugged in!
The jig itself is massive. I should have been able to guess at the size, but it is beefy! It sets up quick, and cuts beautifully. With any quality chisel I think that I would be able to put a mirror edge on it in under 2 minutes. But my chisels took a bit longer, but here is a picture…
The waterstone is set on a pad that would normally be used to line cupboards with, it held it like a rock. I’ve read that you can actually use a pad like that with a router… anyone comment on that?
So now I plan on purchasing the Lee Valley chisel set, and begin plane hunting on Ebay. The new Shop & Tools special issue of FWW lists a bunch, so that’s my goal!
-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI