Every 500 years or so a great discovery is made, one that will change mankind and the universe as we know it. Fire was the first. The wheel made the list. The Chinese had discovered gunpowder and it changed the course of history, for if gunpowder had not been discovered there wouldn’t have been guns and ultimately no ‘Naked Gun 2 1/2′. So it is a good thing they were on their game.
Today I made a discovery, that will forever change the universe. Ok that is an exaggeration, but it will most certainly alter the course of American history. No that isn’t right either. This discovery will, at the very least, make me very happy and have no bearing on society or the universe as a whole. Many moons ago, in a blog piece long forgotten, I told the tale of work bench leg measuring errors, cause in no small part, by my divided attention. I tried to mark them while watching The Ohio State Buckeyes play football. I learned that one can not make accurate and repeatable measurements while screaming, “Sack him you crazy dog! Crush the quarterback like the grape that he is!!!”
Today I, and yesterday to some extent, discovered that one can sharpen planes and chisels on a slab of marble, while enjoying their favorite shows on Hulu. It may eve lead to a sharper blade as one isn’t in such a hurry to finish, and can just keep sanding away the steel until it is ‘scary sharp’ as they say. After last night’s blog post was posted, I took a break from the spokeshave blade and started to lap the sole of the Stanley 110. I did this until 3 am.
I was starting to suspect that starting with 180 grit was not the answer, and sure enough, when I got up this morning (early afternoon), I read a comment that confirmed my suspicion. So today I went and bought some 80 and 150 sheets and gave it another go. The sharpening time dropped dramatically. The next thing I did was to grab everything I could possibly think of, and pile it on the desk. I have now sharpened 4 of my chisels and they are fantastic. I also got the sole of the 110 looking pretty good too.
A few months back I tried to use an old English hand plane, with little success. Those were my first shavings and it brought me a little bit of happiness. When I grabbed the scrap piece of hard maple and ran the 110 over it, the results were markedly better. The blade still needs some work, but I just had to try it out. Making shavings is a thrill. I can say, without question, that I am a complete hand plane addict now.
In fact, I found a guy on line, who is selling off his collection and gave him a call. We talked for about a half an hour and he knows more about hand planes, than I do about…hmmm I don’t really know much of anything about anything, so using me as a comparison…digression part deux. The point is that I had a bunch of questions and he knew the answers. It was great. Thanks Sean, if you are reading. I am going to go look at his collection next weekend. I am very excited.
Today’s discovery wasn’t really about sanding. The real discovery was more of an understanding that the path I have chosen, really seems to fit my personality and temperament. I am glad that I am remaining true to my plan. I am focusing on learning hand tools, building things for woodworking, and discovering as much as I can along the way. In the grand scheme of things it may not be as impressive as fire or the wheel, but this realization warms my heart and keeps me moving along in my journey just the same.