‘The Last Word on Sharpening,’ by Christopher Schwarz

I still remember the first time I achieved a truly sharp edge on my smoothing plane iron. Suddenly, I was able to make whisper thin shavings and achieve a shimmering surface…without a surreptitious dip into Christopher Schwarz’s cabinet to borrow his No. 4. And my dovetails started looking a lot better on the inside, too (not that that truly matters, but still!) – instead of gnawing through the waste, my chisels could actually cut through it. Eureka!

Sharpening is, without doubt, the gateway skill to a long and successful relationship with your hand tools. And now you too can learn this essential skill from Chris with his new DVD, “The Last Word on Sharpening.

It’s a straightforward approach to sharpening that cuts through the confusion of all the many sharpening systems and boils things down to the essentials – no matter what system you choose. His main message? Grind, hone and get back to work. (It is, after all, more fun to make the tools dull than to make them sharp, no?)

First, Chris helps you understand what “sharp” really means in terms of edge tools, then he tells you how to compare sharpening systems “apples to apples.” so you can make an informed choice. It’s on then to the life cycle of an edge, so you can better understand when it’s time to just touch up the edge, and when you need to grind.

Then it’s on to how to properly grind, and Chris shows you how whether you use an electric grinding wheel, a hand-powered grinder, sandpaper or a plate grinder – and he talks about the pros and cons of each, before teaching you how to grind both straight and curved edges.

Next, of course, it’s honing. Then polishing. (Why polish? And what’s the difference between honing and polishing? If you don’t know, you will!) Chris discusses various stones (both waterstones and oilstones), and explains why he makes the polishing choices he does, before showing you how he goes about it.

There’s also a section on dealing with new tools (you did know that few tools are ready to use right out of the box, of course), and a concluding discussion on angles for edge tools (25°? 30°? 35°? What difference does the angle make, and why?).

Watch “The Last Word on Sharpening” a time or two, and you’ll be ready to spend more time making your tools dull – by putting them to good work. (And it’s on special offer right now – purchase before Aug. 31st to save $.)

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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