A mechanic that is always in a hurry is incapable of doing good honest work. The excitable man who is always “flying around,” and whose tools are never at hand when wanted, does not amount to much; he may be busy all day, and apparently — in fact, does — work hard and seems to get over a great deal of ground, but what he does do is neither fine nor substantial. The cool, calm workman who allows himself neither to be driven nor persuaded to do more than a solid day’s work is the man who leaves his impress on each piece of work he turns out, and a hundred years hence it may be found as good and as solid as the day he completed it; but where! Oh, where! will be the work that was thrown together at the same date, by the man who was always “flying around?”
The Builder & WoodWorker – March, 1881, Fred T. Hodgson, editor.
I left my little block of wood that sets my honing angles for chisels and plane irons in Australia, so the first order of business on Sunday was to build a new one.
After a decade of messing around, I pretty much sharpen all my edge tools with a 35° secondary bevel. This is a good all-purpose angle. It’s robust. It works with all my tools. And it keeps life simple.
In theory, I should use a lot of different honing angles to adjust the cutting characteristics of my tools, lower angles for paring tools, higher for chopping tools. I’ve been down those rabbet holes, and I’ve concluded that “sharp fixes everything.”
What’s important for me is that I get sharp fast and without fuss or error. Having one honing angle makes my life simple.
So this little block reflects that idea. One face of the block sets 35° in my side-clamp honing guide for chisels and plane irons. The other face sets 35° for wacky tools – shoulder planes – in my Kell honing guide.
I made the guide out of mahogany (leftovers from the campaign furniture book) and used waterproof glue and nails to assemble things. These are important details if you use waterstones. The water will rot the wood and loosen the glue. Promise.
Now I can get back to work on this campaign chest. Wait, I have to edit three books? Crap.
— Christopher Schwarz