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Good Forstner bits can be expensive; you don’t want to just chuck them out when they get dull. You could bring them in to be sharpened, or you could do it yourself with a few simple tools that you can acquire separately or buy in a kit from several different retailers.

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You’ve mastered sharpening your plane blades and chisels; now it’s time to work on getting those curved tools razor sharp. One way to ensure an even edge is to use a jig like the Oar Sharpener.

Designed by Ross Oar and machined in the U.S. by West Falls Woodcarvings (Ross and Barbara Oar’s company), the aluminum sharpening jig clamps over the tool to keep its edge at the correct sharpening angle. Besides gouges and V-tools, the Oar Sharpener will also work with bench chisels up to 1-1/2″ wide.

The Oar Sharpener comes with complete instructions. Pricing starts around $29 before shipping.

Oar Sharpener [Stadtlander WoodCarving]
Oar Sharpener [Tools for Working Wood]
Oar Sharpener [WoodCraft]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

Getting a perfect burr on your cabinet scraper takes practice. If you don’t have a long time to spend learning to perfect the process, Ulmia’s Burnishing Block, invented by George Ott, lets you get back to scraping quickly. The Burnishing Block works with any square scraper.

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With the pervasiveness of table and miter saws, even in the hobbyist’s workshop, the trusty old handsaw doesn’t see as much use as when it was a staple. Still, most shops have one or two handsaws about, but since they’ve gone from the starting lineup to the minors, they’ll rarely ever be sharpened.

For the shop that still uses a handsaw regularly, it’ll need to be sharpened once in a while. When that time comes, do you just buy a new one, or take a few minutes to sharpen it yourself? With a file, patience, and practice you could probably do an okay job, but you’d more than likely be better off buying a proper saw sharpener like the Eclipse 38 from Spear & Jackson.

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Sharpening is an art — some would call it a black art, but an art nonetheless. You can obtain excellent results with nothing more than a few stones and hours and hours and hours of practice, or you can buy honing guides that almost ensure that novices can achieve acceptable results if they follow directions. That’s not to say that honing guide are for novices, though; there’s a place for them at any skill level.

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I remember seeing one of these systems demonstrated at a Woodcraft store a few years ago. I was impressed — which is, after all, the whole point of a good demonstration — at the time, but have not heard much about it since (it’s still available from Woodcraft online). The Razor Sharp system has two compressed paper wheels. The silicon-carbide coated wheel is used, with a conditioning wax for lubrication and heat control, to create a burr or wire edge. Then the slotted wheel is used, with jewelers’ rouge, to remove the burrs and polish the edge. The manufacturer claims Razor Sharp can sharpen any knife (circular blades, curved blades, reverse curved blades, serrated blades, wavy blades, and straight edges) in addition to axes, chisels, draw knives, gouges, head knives, lathe tools, leather punches, needles, planer blades, scissors, v-tools, “and more.” They also unconditionally guarantee the system. The 6″ Deluxe kit (two 6″ dia. wheels 3/4″ thick with 5/8″ arbor and 1/2″ bushing, grit pack, and instructions) costs around $44 (at Oso Grande Knives and Woodcraft).

Have any Toolmongers used the Razor System? What did you think?

Razor Sharp Edgemaking System [Manufacturer's Site]

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Apparently this sharpening tool has been around under various names since 2004 or earlier, but I just recently found out about it — I know: if I don’t start paying attention, I’m going to have to turn in my Toolmonger badge. The 12″ tall, 8″ diameter JoolTool™ (a.k.a. Ninja™) is a variable speed (500 to 5,000 RPM) dry sharpening system that has a 17° forward tilt for easy use, a vacuum port, and several accessories allowing it to sharpen, polish, grind, lap, sand, and deburr. Highland Woodworking and Japan Woodworker both have a basic package (inc. the JoolTool™, an instructional DVD, a backpad, a buff/polish felt wheel, a small block of honing compound, a variety of different grit discs for various materials, and more) available for $279.95.

Have any Toolmongers used one of these? What did you think? How does it compare to something like the Work Sharp? What’s your preferred tool for sharpening?

JoolTool™ [Manufacturer's Site]

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On Friday, Jan. 8, I went up to Fine Lumber & Plywood in Austin to attend a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event. it was a bit brisk — actually damn cold — for central Texas, but the Fine Lumber folks had set up heaters in their warehouse for the show, and it wasn’t too bad inside. Attendance on this Friday afternoon was light — due to the cold? — so it was easy to talk to other attendees, factory reps, and woodworking experts there.

I managed to get out without buying anything, but it was lots of fun getting a chance to try various Lie-Nielsen planes (they brought several as you can see in the picture above) with instructions and demonstrations by factory reps. I really liked getting long, almost transparent, curls off hardwood with a finely-tuned plane.

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If you sharpen your own handsaws or backsaws, the Gramercy Tools 14″ Saw Vise, seen on Ron Hock’s The Sharpening Blog, might just be the clamp you’re looking for. Its ¼” thick machined steel jaws are set at 45° to the saw, providing clearance for your files and allowing you to slope the gullets. The rotating clamping cam has lots of travel and provides plenty of pressure at the jaws. It’s designed to be bolted to a bench for more rigidity and less flex.

The Tools for Working Wood site has some interesting notes on how the design process went for this saw vise.

The vise’s pre-production price is $98.95 (shipment “sometime in October”).

14″ Saw Vise [Manufacturer's Site]

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A few months ago, with the noble goal of getting into a locked junkyard Grand Am through the trunk, I used my pocket knife to slice through the upholstery from the rear. The steel grate supporting the seat put one hell of a nick in the blade, and it took a good three hours to massage away the nick with a coarse diamond whetstone and a bottle of Tap Magic. The process left me wondering if there’s a better way which produces an edge as good as hand-grinding. Ceramics are excellent finishers, carbide removes burrs with ease, and whetstones produce the best edge, but which is best?

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