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One of the country’s best tool sharpeners will be touring the country this fall to give seminars on his hand-sharpening techniques.

Harrelson Stanley, the owner of and the importer of the most excellent Shapton sharpening stones, will make 45 stops this fall at Woodcraft stores and woodworking schools to give hands-on demonstrations and lessons on his technique.
Harrelson wrote about his sharpening technique in our June 2006 issue and he has produced a DVD that explores the topic further. But as with most things in hand work, nothing beats personal one-on-one instruction. Harrelson is an enthusiastic teacher and extremely knowledgeable about Japanese and Western woodworking. Plus, he’s a very good salesman (though the Shapton stones practically sell themselves.)

The sharpening technique, which he calls “side-sharpening” requires no jigs and is mostly about body mechanics and how one holds the tool while working. Here’s a small sample in Harrelson’s own words:

“To get it right you need to perfect some body mechanics , just like perfecting your golf swing. Once  perfected, you’ll be able to use the side-sharpening technique to master freehand sharpening without years of practice.

“First, I hold the blade in my right hand in a loose grip at the tips of my fingers, with the tips spread around the blade , as if I’m imitating a spider. My left hand is laid flat on the back of the plane blade, parallel to the edge. I position my body to the left of parallel with the stone, with my head positioned directly over the blade.
“I’m using my left hand in a pushing motion across the stone almost like using a hand saw, swinging my arm, not my body. I keep my left arm rigid from the tips of my fingers all the way up to my elbow. My right hand is used only to support the blade; the left arm is doing all the work.”

Intrigued? Then check the dates on his website and drop in and see Harrelson.

– Christopher Schwarz

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  • Michael Rogen

    I read your article and was intrigued enough by it that I purchased his DVD on the same subject (he has another DVD on sharpening as well), and I was not dissapointed. He is easy going and engaging in his manner and seems to be enjoying himself as he imparts information while demonstrating his methods. After trying it for myself the most important thing that I came away with was that this technique of side sharpening was not only the "easiest" method of sharpening my edge tools, but was enjoyable as well!
    What makes me so excited about this system is that it allows me, even with a severe disability to my hands which affects my motor functions and the ability to control things such as blade irons and chisels, to be able to not only perform these necessary functions, but perform them with confidence.
    Thank you,
    Michael Rogen

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