by William Ng
The ability to keep tools sharp is a most important woodworking skill – that’s why I have a dedicated sharpening station in each of my classrooms, readily available for my students. Many woodworkers think of sharpening as drudgery, right up there with sanding. So I sought to design a sharpening station that was fun, relaxing and inviting, and facilitates the sharpening process.
I chose sapele, white oak and maple for this project (though I’ve built a couple of these using beech). Sapele, which is in the mahogany family, is a great outdoor wood; I use it for the station’s top, knowing it will be in contact with water, and for the legs. White oak is also a good outdoor wood. It’s hard and rigid – perfect for the bridge that supports and holds the stones. Light-colored maple or beech (used for the base sides, front and back) adds a bit of Asian flavor, providing a pleasant contrast to the sapele. For the tub itself, I use a bus tray (available at restaurant supply stores). It’s tough and rugged enough to withstand any abuse without worry of it cracking. The proportions and design of the sharpening station are relative to the size of the bus tray.
I use rift-sawn wood for the legs, because of its straight grain on all sides. Arrange the legs for a pleasing grain pattern before marking out then cutting the mortises. The 3⁄8″-wide x 41⁄2″-long x 5⁄8″-deep mortises are located 3⁄8″ from the outside edge on the legs.
I like a 3⁄16″ reveal for the leg and panel joint, and I use a 1⁄8″ roundover on most of my furniture builds. When I round over the legs, I have a 1⁄16″ tolerance between the leg and panel.
I cut the tenons at the table saw, using a dado set.
After dry-fitting the base, mark and drill a 3⁄8″ hole in the left top edge of the back panel; it’s for inserting the 1⁄4″ tubing that connects to a water pump.
Now use PVA glue to glue up the base.
You’ll notice in the cutlist that the top’s front is narrower than the other three sides for ergonomic reasons.
When standing in front of the pond, I don’t want to reach forward to sharpen.
Web site: Visit William Ng’s web site (where he carries the ViaAqua Pump).
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
Article: Read our guide on the basics of sharpening a handplane blade.
In Our Store: For expert information on sharpening all types of tools, read Ron Hock’s “The Perfect Edge.”
To Buy: “Greene & Greene Joinery Details,” a video by William Ng.
From the November 2015 issue