The winding road

What was to have been a couple of days of sharpening dull edges has stretched into nearly a week. The viscosity of the holidays and the collection of some missing components for a sharpening station (and the fabrication of a simple jig for holding stones and setting honing guides) kept me busy.  So, too, the re-learning curve for the Lie-Nielson method of sharpening chisels and plane irons.

I've come to the conclusion that a diamond lapping plate to keep the stones flat is a necessity for maintaining the discipline of sharpening.  A regular diet of the coarsest grit wet & dry paper on a glass plate will do the trick in a pinch (I haven't found coaser than 150 yet).   Flattening the 800 grit stone took a couple of those the first time through, and another to re-flatten after the first spate of sharpening. And a lot of time.

The only good thing about not having sharpened recently is that I've done only modest amounts of damage to my better plane irons.  A concave stone (mine were) can quickly crown the back of a plane iron or chisel, rendering it dishearteningly ineffective.  The most obvious evidence on chisels is the shiny corners of the blade that can't easily be flattened, and hence will not pare well.   Plane irons are slightly more forgiving, as both a back-bevel and a microbevel can be ground very quickly, making modest deviation from perfect flatness less of an issue.

A lapping plate used to flatten the stones after each will be quick and effective, and make sharpening far less onerous.

I (re)learned that Japanese and western chisels present different challenges in sharpening.  Which explains why I have two styles of honing guide.  But by and large, I got things into decent shape, and the plane irons are pretty much as sharp as they can be -- too polished surfaces meeting at an acute angle.

I also learned, through the Lie Neilsen videos, how to sharpen the spokeshave blades, and the one bit of work I did get done on the boat made good use of the two I have.

The apron, or inner stem, of the boat wants to be a fair, winding bevel with a flat landing in the same plane as each successive plank. This will maximize strength at the sharp end of the boat, as well as making her prettier.  The bevel starts nearly horizontally at the keelson, and winds in three dimensions through the landing of the 8 strakes from garboard to sheerstrake.  I have no clue as to the tolerance for deviation from the ideal.  Among the virtues of epoxy/okume-plywood construction is the gap-filling strength of the epoxy, and I'm guessing the tolerances are generous.  I do recall, however, from my canoe-building experience with Thom, that the least satisfactory aspects of the result were the bow and stern where the skin was unfair to a small degree.  I'd like to avert that in the Auklet.

The larger Record spokeshave is great for hogging large amounts of wood from the stem.  Its curved sole makes it easy to modulate a cut in response to the changing wood, and it doesn't clog easily.

The smaller Lie Nielsen has a flat sole, and a very fine mouth (that can clog easily).  It is perfect for bring the winding bevel down gracefully to a flat landing.  The trick is making that landing just the right angle for the successive strakes.

2 hours of bevel shaping yesterday.


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