Sometimes a small advance in technology makes an enormous difference in everything. The Chestnut Tools Universal Sharpener – just $18.50 from Lee Valley Tools – will absolutely change the way you sharpen tools.
It looks like a folding pocketknife, but instead of a blade the sharpener has a piece of sub-micron carbide about 1⁄8″ wide and 7⁄8″ long. The carbide has sharp corners, unlike a carbide burnisher. And it’s the combination of the incredibly fine carbide and its shape that makes it a game-changer when sharpening.
For starters, it makes short work of marking knives, pocket knives, scissors and a variety of tools that are difficult to sharpen. The carbide works like a scraper. You tilt the tool slightly, rub it with gentle pressure on the steel and it shaves steel away as if it were wood.
Full instructions are included with the tool, which show you how to create a burr with the tool and remove it from the back with a slightly different stroke. It’s like a miniature grinder and can even straighten out a dubbed-over bevel on an incannel gouge (tricky stuff, indeed).
I love it for sharpening card scrapers and use it instead of a file. Clamp the sharpener upright in your vise and you’ll create a perfect square edge on your scraper. Of all the steps in sharpening a scraper, getting a square edge with sharp corners is the most difficult. Stone the scraper a bit and you are ready to turn a burr with your regular burnisher (the corners of the Universal Sharpener are too sharp to turn a burr).
All I can say is this: Get one. You’ll thank me. PWM
Blog: See the Universal Sharpener in use on a card scraper. (to come)