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sharpening wood tools

updated thu 27 dec 07


John Sankey on wed 26 dec 07

June Perry: "I don't get fuzziness when I sharpen my bamboo tools
on my grinding machine. I get a brownish, very slick, smooth and
very sharp finish."

The reason for the brown is that the heat caramelises the
sugars/lignins of the wood, melting them to give a gloss varnish-
like finish. This is I believe the major reason why properly
applied heat hardens wood. Without heat, though, Phil is correct
- that's why violin makers use knives and scraper planes for
finishing, never sandpaper. The only time I value sandpaper for
fine woodwork is when I'm staining highly absorbent wood such as
eastern white pine. Ultrafine orbital sanding roughens the
surface evenly to equalise stain absorption. But, after the first
seal coat, I get out the cutting scraper again before final

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