Don Williams and I are deep into the guts of his book on H.O. Studley’s tool cabinet and workbench – doing everything we can to get the book out in March 2015 – just in time for the exhibit of the chest at Handworks.
We have found a hole in the visual record of the cabinet that we would like to fill. The cabinet was on display at the Smithsonian as part of the exhibit “Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution 1790-1860” in a vignette with several other tool chests for various trades. Though the exhibit lasted almost 20 years (late 1986 to mid-2006), the Studley tool cabinet was included for perhaps only a third of that time, probably 1994-1999.
We know that thousands of woodworkers saw the cabinet during this exhibit. But we do not have a photo of the cabinet in the display. Do you?
If so, please send an e-mail to Don Williams. If your photo fits the bill it could end up in our forthcoming book on the cabinet and workbench.
If a students shows me a tool during class and asks: “Should I s….”
I cut them off. “Yes.”
I have found that when you ask yourself if a tool is dull, the poor pathetic thing is way past being dull and is on its way to getting chipped and trashed. I think you need to sharpen an edge before it actually occurs to you to sharpen that edge. Sounds impossible, but it’s not.
I sharpen a lot, and it is part of the rhythm of my day. As I finishing planing up panels with a jointer plane, I stop to sharpen the tool before I take on the parts for the lid – even if the plane is performing well.
When I chop dovetails, I touch up the tool between each corner of a carcase – even if the chisel is keen and cutting well.
This is the opposite of the way I was taught to evaluate edges. I was told: “The surface of the wood will tell you how your edge is performing. If the wood looks bad, it’s time to sharpen.”
While that makes sense on one level, I don’t want the wood to ever look bruised or scraped or chunked out. So I sharpen the smoothing plane several times a day if this is the day I’m smoothing things.
This approach not only ensures my parts will look their best, it also removes most concerns about what steel your tool is made of. If you keep an edge wicked sharp (and nothing less) then it really doesn’t matter if A4 steel holds an edge longer than Q4.