A real conversation from the early 2000s. The supplier mentioned here is one of the many that are no longer in business.
Woodworking Gear Supplier No. 2 (WGS2): “I absolutely cannot wait for the new Shapton 30,000-grit stone to come out.”
Editor: “Yeah? What’s so great about it?”
WGS2: “It will complete an essential kit of four stones that every woodworker needs. Woodworkers with only three Shapton stones will want to complete their set. And – here’s the great part – it’s going to cost about $400 to $500. The margin on this stone is incredible.”
Editor: “What kind of edge do you get with it?”
WGS2: “No idea. I haven’t used one yet. But I’m sure it’s great.”
44 thoughts on “A Marginally Better Stone”
The exuberant clueless optimism of profits from marketing! I don’t miss corporate life one bit.
Fools. They should have started competitive (and non competitive) tool sharpening. As you said, it’s the new golf. They’d be rolling in cold hard cash now.
Wow! This isn’t surprising. This is up there with you just test the edge of the tool on pine to see if it’s truly sharp. My question always is, are you going to actually cut pine? If not use a piece of wood that you are going use for the job at hand.
We sell all the Shapton range in New Zealand and I always tell our customers to keep it simple and get very few stones instead of seven like some people want. I rather spend more time doing woodwork and touch up my tools with the stones and the Tormek before they get blunt. The 30.000 grit is the only one we don’t stock. No need for it. The 8000 equals the leather strap and the 16000 is very popular for japanese knives. I tried the 16000 with my chisels and handplane blades and didn’t make a huge difference after the 8000. Amen.
I believe you that this is from the early 2000s, because today I see posts preaching the virtues of having 7 or 8 stones. “Don’t skip grits!” And they’re not talking about breakfast. It’s like an arms race.
This morning I learned I shall die, unfulfilled, with a chest full of inadequately sharpened tools.
(I only own 2 Shapton stones)
Why are you tossing stink bombs in a crowded room? Apart from the fact that it’s usually high-larious.
This week I was reflecting on how I don’t have to listen to this sort of behind-the-scenes crass manipulation chatter anymore.
My father was in sales. Electrical wholesaler. I knew from a very young age I could never sell anything. I couldn’t even sell things that people actually need. I count that as both a a merit and a deficiency.
For what it’s worth, you do a great job of walking the line. I mean, your business is selling stuff. But you do it right, and well.
If you can’t easily quantify ‘it’ or accurately describe ‘it’, you can market and sell the hell out of solutions for ‘it’. Sharp has always been the ‘it’ for woodworkers. I’d venture to guess that the Editor here could make one of those daily calendars out of stories like this and not run out of material for years.
The “Scam A Day” calendar…. hmmmmmm
“Once you understand that sharpening is merely polishing two surfaces until they have a zero-radius intersection, you can sharpen anything.”
“He could sharpen an edge to separate a proton from its neutron if needed.”
This kind of quote reminds me of the DEATH character in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books where his scythe could split light.
Did his scythe have a prism for a blade??
I’m not influenced by digital marketing, but mysteriously the Dudley tool chest book appeared on my doorstep after I read a recent blog posting of info from the dust jacket. Sitting with a real book, a beautifully crafted book, an inspiring book takes you to a happy place.
As we used to say in sales “ Another Marketing Lie”.
A number of years ago, I went to a Lie-Nielsen show, in Maryland. Somebody from Lie-Nielsen was exhibiting a sharpening technique – grinder, 1000 Shapton, 8000 Shapton, done. The most beautiful shavings came off the plane. That is what I do now.
I just finished rereading The Hitchhiker’s a guide to the Galaxy. This exchange is one that would easily fit into that book.
Yup right alongside the following quote from an entry in the lesser known supplement to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy titled: The Chipcarver’s Guide to the Workshop:
“[The tool engineers] probably got sidetracked by the marketers who ordered them to castrate the flattening ability from the fore plane leaving it a scrub plane in order to sell to the unsuspecting woodworker the same plane twice.”
(For the full entry in “The Chipcarver’s Guide to the Workshop” see the link below)
Sorry, meant to say, click my name for the link. Or click here: https://woodnbows.wordpress.com/2021/02/04/the-chip-carvers-guide-to-the-workshop/
You have a Heart of Gold. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
I do wonder about this obsession with the finest grades of sharpening stone. Craftsmen of old would be stunned at our efforts seeking after the perfect edge. When one sees the videos of the opening of carpenter grandad’s tool chest, not seen since he retired in 1945 there is probably one lonely oilstone with a slight dip in the middle. My friend is a building site carpenter, when I asked him about tool sharpening he uses a belt sander for his chisels and the electric plane just gets new blades.
I like the Paul Sellers video where he sharpens to 250 grit and his plane works fine. I try to have the mindset that good enough is good enough and take the approach that if I sharpen, I know it’s not going to be perfect, but it will be better than it was and I’ll try to sharpen better the next time.
I do agree, but I have recently been working some iroko which has really difficult grain. I ended up sharpening to 6,000 grit as opposed to my usual 1,000. With the finest shavings I could just about plane without tear out. My turning tools only get 180 and they seem happy with that.
Apparently stropping on leather made from unicorn skin is equivalent to 50,000 grit and endows the edge with magical properties.
Remember to follow up your unicorn stropping with eleventy Brazilian grit pure cumquat essential oil. Not only does it provide a layer of antiprismatic-transparency to your edge, but it also disinfects. At only $500/ml it’s a bargain and will complete your significant other’s kit of lavender, lemon, eucalitmus, yourangatanatan, Frankenstein and helichrysm essential oils.
That’s just madness suggesting you only need a couple of grits and be done with it. Next you’ll say you only need a limited number of good hand tools to do all your woodworking, and maybe a sturdy chest made of inexpensive softwood to store them.
There is truth in what you say. What I need and what I want can be the same thing.
Is that irony? I can never tell.
The irony is that the case against a 30K Shapton is being made by those who do not or will never use it. It is difficult to agree with that. I would love to hear from those who used such a stone and then made the case against it.
I hope I live long enough to wear out my Arkansas oil stones.
Unless one works in a cleanroom, simply shuffling the feet in the workshop will stir up enough dust to turn a 30k grit stone to an effective 6k.
I have done what you mentioned a while ago Chris. I bought a set of stones (not gonna say what kind), have kept with them for 5 plus years. I know how to use them and get a sharp edge in around 5 min per tool. I’ve stopped looking. If and when they wear out, I will buy the same ones again and not think about it. I’m simple like that; or a simpleton – can’t decide or want to waste energy doing so.
I used to do a lot of fishing from the beach and used a long beach casting rod and reel. I was looking for sometimes a cast of 100 yards or so. Then they had casting competitions at tackle shows. How long before there are sharpening competitions at woodworking shows. (Or maybe there are already.)
A sharpening stone that “goes to 11” LOL!
I am a long-standing member of the Tool-of-the-Month Club. We are required by our code and bylaws to purchase the tool on the cover of the monthly woodworker catalog, alternating amongst those still standing. We greatly mourn the passing of WSG2.
Here’s the hell of it: if Schwarz told us to buy a fourth stone, we’d all do it in a heartbeat.
Can you intermix water stone brands? Or should you buy a whole new set from a single manufacturer?
Reminds me of the South Park Underwear Gnomes business plan. Worth looking up if you’re anywhere near marketing and/or MBAs.
I can just see “Japanese planing competitions” coming to TV alongside fishing derbys
Imagine achieving true sharpness. A koan for all makers: https://href.li/?https://anchor.fm/thiscraftedworld/episodes/Episode-2-Sharpness-ekv4b9
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