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What do the books “Measure Twice, Cut Once,” “Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets,” “Table Saw Magic,” “The New Cottage Home” and “The Toolbox Book” have in common? If you knew Jim Tolpin wrote these books, you score big.

Take a look at your bookcase. If you’re a woodworking enthusiast, chances are there is at least one book on the rack written by Tolpin. He’s written 17 or so books in total and his subjects are as vast and varied as his lifelong experience.

In town for the day, Tolpin recently stopped by to visit with Popular Woodworking. He gave us an update on the Port Townsend School of Woodworking , if you’re looking for a class on building Gypsy Wagons, look no further , and what he’s doing in woodworking today. Never one to miss an opportunity to talk woodworking, Editor Christopher Schwarz sat down with Tolpin to record a segment for Wood Talk Online.

The interview is scheduled for this evening’s edition (Wednesday, April 1). I know it’s April Fool’s day, but this is no joke. If you’re interested in what causes a guy to give away his tools, you’ll want to give a listen to Wood Talk Online tonight.

Also included in the WTO program is another Chris Schwarz shop tip. It certainly is worth paying attention to these tips. So far we’ve picked up tips on how to sharpen on the pull stroke in episode 50), on rust erasers in episode 51 and on jojoba oil in episode 52 (it’s not just a hair product). All episodes available here. This week’s tip could save you money , something we all like.

If you’re trying to catch up, here are the previous tips.

Sharpen on the Pull Stroke Only
File this one under “unsolved mysteries.” I’ve sharpened hundreds (perhaps thousands) of tools, and the biggest challenge is removing the coarse scratches left behind by previous grits. For some reason, I can bring up a polish and remove those scratches much faster if I move the tool only in one direction as I sharpen it.

I find I get more control of a tool when I sharpen on the pull stroke so here’s what I do: Put the tool down on the stone, pull it toward me, lift the tool and return it back to where I started. Pull again.

If you don’t believe me, try it. I’ve shared this little mystery with other sharpening geeks and they report the same thing. Now all we need is some pointy head to tell us “why” this happens.

Why I Love Rust Erasers
If you like tools, then I bet you hate rust. And that’s one of the reasons to buy a couple inexpensive “SandFlex Hand Blocks” made by Klingspor abrasives. These blocks of rubberized abrasive can remove the bloom of rust from all your tools. They come in coarse, medium and fine grits. I have all three grits, but I think you can get away with the coarse and medium.

In addition to removing rust, these things are great at removing pitch from tools, too. Whenever I have a build-up of pitch on my handplane’s chipbreaker or on my jointer knives, a few swipes with a hand block and I’m back down to gleaming bare metal. That means shavings eject cleanly and my edges last longer.

And the Hand Blocks last for years and years.

Keep Rust at Bay With Jojoba Oil
Because I already have enough nasty solvents in my shop, I prefer using a non-toxic oil to protect my tools from rust. Camelia oil from Japan is a popular choice. But there’s another good one made here in the Southwest United States.

Jojoba oil is a non-drying oil made from the jojoba bush found in southern Arizona and California. You can use it as a body moisturizer, hair tonic, make-up remover or as a rust protectant. Just wipe on a thin coat with a rag when you put your tools away. The oil doesn’t interfere with gluing or finishing, and you can find it locally at health food stores , even Trader Joe’s carries it.

The stuff has worked well for me, and because I have small children, I’m glad it’s non-toxic. Heck you can even drink the stuff. Though I don’t recommend that , apparently it does the same thing to your insides that Olestra does.

You’ll want to listen in as Marc Spagnuolo and Matt Vanderlist explore these and other woodworking topics on Wood Talk Online at 8:00PM EST.

– Glen D. Huey

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  • Kevin Kuehl

    I’ve found the same thing in regards to sharpening only on the pull stroke, except with plane blades for my 8000 stone plus nagura. I haven’t found a difference (under a mangnifying loupe) between pull-only and push-pull. For my chisels, I couldn’t figure out how to do push-pull without creating little gouges in my stones, so I stopped almost immediately.


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