I started this “gift guide” years ago after watching a woodworking TV personality’s “gift guide” for one of his sponsors. Clearly, he’d been given a list of worthless garbage products that were severely overstocked.
I thought: What if some poor spouse actually took this clown’s advice?
Our gift guide is – as always – unsponsored. Toolmakers who ask to be included in the guide (and they sometimes do) are automatically excluded from it. We don’t make money from these recommendations – there are no affiliate links. We bought all of these items with our own lunch money and have been using them in the shop this year.
Finally, we try to recommend small items – things that your kids can afford to give you. And I usually throw in one high-price item, in case you’ve been extra good this year.
I’ve been doing this guide for many years. You can read past recommendations here. There also are several earlier years of the gift guide on the Popular Woodworking site. But good luck finding those. You’ll need a crowbar.
I hope I have listed enough caveats to tamp down the usual questions. Let’s get started.
AccuSharp Knife Sharpener
Might as well start with one that will make the sharpening experts howl. For many years I have sharpened all my shop knives and kitchen knives with this humble and inexpensive sharpener from AccuSharp.
You can find these for $10, and even the low-rent model will last a decade. And you can buy replacement abrasive guts when they wear out. The “professional” one shown here costs $5 more and has more metal components. But the result is the same.
The things are dead-nuts easy to use. Hold the knife flat on a table with its edge facing up. Pull the sharpener over the blade (the plastic scabbard protects you). It will refresh an edge in three or four strokes.
What I adore about this sharpener is that it will bring a dead knife back to life. Just stroke the blade some more until you get a good edge.
Some of you might be wondering why I prefer this gizmo to a knife steel or stones. The answer is simple: speed. When I’m cooking I don’t have time to stone my knives. I need to get that tomato dissected ASAP. And the edge from the AccuSharp is better than serviceable.
Same goes with my shop knives. When I’m opening boxes or whatnot, I don’t have the time to pause and stone my pocket knife. So I grab the AccuSharp and am back to work in seconds.
And because it’s easy, all my knives stay sharp.
I use this sharpener on all my knives, except for my laminated Japanese ones. Those have to be stoned.
I know there are people who find Zen in sharpening their knives, perhaps by the campfire. I am not that guy.
— Christopher Schwarz
To read previous entries in the gift guide, click here.