Last time I visited Kelly Mehler’s school, I admired the fine sharpening set-up he had. People who are serious about woodworking have permanent sharpening stations, and Kelly’s is top notch. One thing I like about it is the grinders are downstairs with the other nasty smelly machines.
Anyway, I was thinking about the etiquette of using someone else’s sharpening stones. I’m teaching another class at Kelly’s this Fall and a student asked about what chisels to bring. I told him (Joe) that if you are bringing your own chisels, you should probably bring your own stones as well. To me, using someone else’s stone is like drinking from their coffee cup. I wasn’t sure that was a great analogy so I thought I ask you. So I have two questions:
1) Is it okay to use someone else’s sharpening stone?
I tried using one of Joel’s once. He wouldn’t let me. Did I mention that Joel was selling stones at the time? Yes, Joel is a bit quirky, but I think he’s right about this one.
2) If using someone else’s stone really is icky, what would be a good analogy? My coffee cup analogy isn’t a good one. If you washed it before and after you use it, what’s the difference if you borrow a cup?
The cup in the picture above has a funny story. I’ve met Roy Underhill several times at conferences in Williamsburg. He’s always mobbed. I mean, he’s a real celebrity, and especially so in Williamsburg. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t read my column or blog and when he sees me, I always introduce myself to remind him of who I am.
Last year at WiA:Berea, I was fortunate to be pared up with St. Roy in a class on chisel use. Roy is a real professional. The class went pretty well. The following day, I was packing up my demo booth and Roy came wandering thr the market place where my booth was set-up. He had a surprised look on his face when he saw me. He thanked me for my previous day’s efforts, then reached into his pocket and pulled out the cup in the picture above, complete with remnants of his morning’s coffee (there are always remnants). It’s a neat cup and I was thrilled to have it. But that’s the point: Stones are like coffee cups aren’t they? Unless you flatten them after each use, you really are leaving coffee grounds behind for someone else, agree?