The boring machine from the tool show in February, repaired, scraped, re-assembled.  The rack and latch still need some adjustment, that round hole in the cap is about 3/32″ off.  Otherwise, after cleaning up the usual dings and grunge, a serviceable tool.


The old waterstone box got an epoxy liner.



holds two quarts…


everybody likes clean water…


new plate glass,


the entire kit, ready to travel…

And two new boxes of old-growth redwood, sides not quite fitted, bottoms glued up, those pieces of bubinga on top will be stone cradles.  These will be assembled with epoxy, not gorilla glue like I used on the first one.



Outdoors in good light on a summer day, with flat stones and clean water, one can see with remarkable clarity how a blade changes as it’s ground on each grit.  Some of that Japanese steel is tempered so hard that an India stone won’t put a dent in it, and while Arkansas stones will cut Japanese steel, they’re primarily finishing stones.  English or American tools (19th c. cast steel was mostly from Sheffield, following Huntsman’s crucible process) respond well to either oilstones or water stones, unless they have been quench-hardened and not properly tempered.

Lately, I have been sharpening with an India stone and a hard Arkansas stone on my workbench, giving the waterstones a rest while I repaired their box.  Oilstones will produce as sharp an edge as any other method, on European and American tools, even the alloy steels.  Sharpening framing chisels on winter days outdoors, oilstones trump.  Flattening oilstones that have worn hollow is a massive chore.

Diamonds are expensive, and since I have some doubts about where they actually come from, I won’t invest in diamonds.  (If you happen to consider Marples Blue Chip a good chisel, and you’re spending $100+ on diamond stones:  re-examine your priorities.) Sharpening with paper:  really, really, really sharp, yeah.  But the backs won’t be truly flat on your chisels and plane irons, and the bevels will take on a slightly rounded micro-bevel, fine for planing, not so good for chiseling.  Use the 220 paper to flatten your water stones and get on with it.

About michaellangford2012

Timber framer, boatbuilder, dreamer, writer, musician; collector of books, tools, aphorisms. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing…as simply messing about in boats."
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3 Responses to Shopwork

  1. Greg Merritt says:

    I like the waterstone box. Solid, simple and looks to be very effective. I’ve seen too many folks try to overcomplicate these with fancy and pretty. Functional has its own inherent beauty.


    • There’s a narcissus motif used at Katsura, suggests a stylized hand holding a blossom, considered carving on the new boxes; it’s culturally appropriate, and I want to carve something. Once you make that first cut, you’re committed to a choice between embellishment and defacement.

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