Is It Really That Easy?

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been deep into preparing for my upcoming classes at Weekend With Wood, but over the last couple of days I’ve had reason to watch again Ron Herman’s latest contribution to on sharpening. Wow. Is it really that easy?

I’ve always been a product-oriented woodworker; the idea of a completed project is what keeps me woodworking. I could give a damn about whether you bevel-grind or not, if you switch between rip blades and cross-cut blades, or how you get your tools sharp. I don’t care if every chisel in your shop is honed to exactly 25°, 30° or somewhere in-between – all that matters is that your chisels are sharp because that’s how you get work done.

As I recorded and edited Ron’s article, “Get It Sharp!,” I watched as he demonstrated and explained four different methods to get to sharp, and how each affects your woodworking budget. I kept track in my mind of what it costs for each of the methods, and how much time it took to get back to work.

And The Winner Is …

As you may have guessed, the most expensive methods were not necessarily the ones that got you up and running any faster than a few of the less expensive methods. Given the fact that time-savings between methods were not significant, it’s my opinion that what it costs to achieve sharp should be more heavily weighted.

Ron’s use sandpaper and a honing guide is not new to woodworking. But doing the job using a stock piece of melamine made me scratch my head. You don’t need a super-flat, $100 block of granite? You don’t need a piece of plate glass upon which to work? C’mon? Is it really that easy? You bet it is.

— Glen D. Huey


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One thought on “Is It Really That Easy?

  1. Not much more than melamine and way flatter is a 12″ granite tile. In the $5 range. For price to performance, tile beats melamine.

    If there is one with a broken off corner you could get it even cheaper.

    The stone will hold up when you need to scrape adhesive off or use a solvent and never warps. If you drop it, it won’t make shards like glass.

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