“Warning: Sharp chisels are dangerous and should be handled with care. Dull chisels are even more dangerous and should be sharpened.”
This timeless advice comes deep in the small print of the little card that comes with many Lie-Nielsen tools. Much like a shower or brushing your teeth, sharpening is a regular daily routine for most traditional woodworkers, and while it is amazing to see the lengths we go to be sharp, many of us often relegate this task to the end of the bench or tiny bits of counter space here and there.
Why all the fuss about about where to sharpen? How do I avoid this ‘dangerous’ situation?
For many years I was sharpening wherever I could find a bit of space yet knowing there was a better way to go about this. After moving last year I finally got around to re-arranging and re-imagining my workshop space and decided to do something about where I sharpen. Several years ago I went through a phase where I built a lot of New Yankee Workshop projects meant to organize the workshop and at that time I bought the supplies to build Norm’s Sharpening Station but never got around to building this one last project — I even had the top all laminated and ready to go since before the move. Now as I looked to make more room in my shop and move my 4’x8′ sheet goods cart out of the shop I needed to clear off that extra plywood and get some more storage space for all my sharpening paraphernalia. Now that I’ve finished this project I don’t know how I lived without it for so long. I *finally* have all my sharpening gear in one place, I have a spot I can quickly sharpen at and get back to work. I also have waited way too long to finally have an actual paper towel holder in the shop — yes the simple pleasures in life — like not having sawdust all over a clean sheet from the roll that was bouncing around the shop.
The point? Keeping your tools sharp is a vital part of doing good work, so the investment in a dedicated sharpening space and a couple of weekends is a great way to keep your edges keen, your points sharp and your paper towels clean (especially if you don’t want to get caught stealing paper towels from the kitchen 😉 ). Happy Sharpening….