Thursday, May 17, 2012


I've been working on a continuous arm settee and as I've been reaching for tools, I've been using my "sanding flap" wheel on the backs to help hollow them out for sharpening.  Today, I was finishing the cutout on the side of the seat, shown above, and figured it was a good time to take one of my favorite knives off the wall and give it a once over.

This cut is tricky on a regular seat, and even more so on a settee because the cove is all endgrain. Nothing but the sharpest knife will do.

So I got out my angle grinder (you have bought one, right!?) and went to work on the back of the drawknife. The knife that I use for this is very special. It doesn't have much steel left on it and I don't grind a bevel on it. Instead, I round the front (which rides in the cut) and flatten the back. Of course, a rounded front is very hard to sharpen because of the difficulty honing it. So the back is where the action is.

By flattening the back and honing it until a burr turns to the front, I get a great edge. I run through all of the stones on the back and only touch the front to the final stone and strop it lightly. I don't strop the back because I want it perfectly flat. With the hollowing help of the grinder, I got the thing sharper than I've ever had it and the cove on the seat was a breeze!
Click on the image for a closer look

Since I've been reforming my tools, I've picked up a new habit that I'm ashamed to say I didn't years ago. I've started oiling all of my edge tools with camelia oil before stowing them. It may seem like a little thing, but rust never sleeps and a sharp edge is a tiny place, easily affected.

Now I take the tool off the rack and give it a quick rub with a paper towel and let it sing.

Here is the settee, all legged up.

Since spring has sprung, I have been enjoying all the work that the previous owners of our house put into their gardens. Here is a rhododendron outside my shop window.

Great stuff, but poison to goats, so watch out.


Steve Kirincich said...

Hi Peter,
When do you use the diamond paste/lathe setup for final sharpening?


Peter Galbert said...

the lathe and diamond paste is a form of stropping because the paste and wood are soft. So I would only use it on a surface that can use a little rounding, so for instance, I could have used it on the bevel side of this knife but wanting to keep the back dead flat, I'd only use the stones.

Unknown said...

I have been trying to figure out how to sharpen my Barr slim seat knife properly. I have just been maintaining the edge that came on it but have not been satisfied at all. This helps a lot.


Andrew Jack said...

I've been checking out your endgrain from across the room... Let's just say I like what I see.

Bern said...

I agree with Andrew Jack...but I been lookin' from across the globe

Bill Palmer said...

Pete: Are you left handed? I've been watching you skew sharpening technique and it's opposite what I've been doing(I'm RHed)

Peter Galbert said...

yep, I'm a lefty!

Bern said...

Does that mean that when in Australia
you're right handed?

Tanner Torchia @ Tulco said...

Kudos to you for picking up the oiling practice, Peter! For those working on crafts, even the smallest details, like applying oil to prevent rust, could be the difference between quality work and a hack job. Whether it's a manual hand tool or a power tool, it's a good maintenance practice for anyone to have.