A few months ago, in the midst of a day full of projects, I had a bit of an a-ha moment. I was in my workshop, using the table saw to slice up some Baltic birch plywood, when a timer on my phone went off, reminding me to take a break and go chop a bunch of vegetables to add to the slow cooked stock I was simmering in the kitchen.
Sharpening a blade at home - whether a pocket knife, a chisel, a kitchen knife, a hand plane blade, a pair of scissors - is a relatively simple process. In theory. In practice, it can be a bit difficult, since the essence of sharpening a blade is less about the ability to remove material and create/straighten a new edge. Rather - the trick is removing that material at the right angle to create the bevel that makes up a blade's sharp edge.
When it comes to serious woodworking, a marking knife beats a pencil for most layout tasks. And here's why: 1) The knife's edge is finer and flat on one side, allowing you to truly scribe a line along a straight edge, not just next to it. 2) The knife cuts the wood grain on the surface, so that when you go back to make a through cut with a chisel, saw, router bit, etc, the fibers will stay clean and crisp along the surface. 3) The knife's indentation gives you a place to register your tools, ensuring accurate and gap-free cuts.
Don't own one yet? Don't like yours and want to improve it? Want to multiply your arsenal so you can keep one in every corner of your shop? Well then... it's time to roll your own.
The journey of an apprentice is a long and hard road, with many hours of thankless work under a master that at some point will hopefully be surpassed in skill and knowledge. Here's an interview with a Western student learning Japanese bladesmithing from an Eastern expert.
You've seen it. Old movies, Looney Tunes cartoons, vintage black and white photos that at least look real. An axe is, after all, a sharp blade, and apparently, you can shave with it.
Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day.
When we think about tools that cut things in the workshop, we tend to focus on the big stuff: table saws, metal cut-off tools, or even a chainsaw. Or perhaps we think of tools designed for dedicated tasks: an angle grinder, or a jig saw. But, know what the two items I most regularly pull down off my pegboard, even more than a hammer? Whose little silhouettes remain most routinely bare and hooks unfilled?
Scissors are a simple tool. When the work, they work beautifully, doing exactly what you ask, as they've done since you learn how to work a pair in Kindergarten. Ernest Wright & Sons of Sheffield, England is one of the last remaining hand-manufacturer of scissors - high-quality shears crafted from the best materials and designed for a lifetime of use.
The winter weather isn't quite over, but it seems we've seen the worst of the polar vortexes (vorticises?). So, while it's not quite the time to head out on weekend camping trips (unless your loaded with four-season and mountaineering gear), it is the time to think about heading out on weekend camping trips and getting your gear ready.
The inaugural episode of Saturday Night Live featured a mock commercial for the Triple-Trac, a three blade razor:
"From the straight razor, to the safety razor, to the injector system, amd finally the highly acclaimed twinblade cartridge. Almost perfect, yet not quite the superlative groom. Introducing the Triple-Trac. Not just two blades in one system, but three stainless, platinum teflex-coated blades melded together to form one incredible shaving cartridge, easily fitted into your old twinblade holder. Triple-Trac's triple-threat cartridge, with more close shaves than ever before...Triple-Trac's third blade, a finely-honed bonded platinum instrument, cuts cleanly through the whisker at its base, leaving your face as smooth as a billiard ball,
The Triple-Trac. Because you'll believe anything."
Thirty-five years later, as we know, George Carlin's satire is alive and well...I just used one this morning.
The shaving market in the U.S., as anyone who's ever stepped into a pharmacy can attest, is a bit silly, and worthy of the ridicule its recieved. More recently, "The introduction of Gillette's Fusion razor, kept secret until its debut in 2005, was eerily predicted the year before by the satirical Onion newspaper, which ran a fake memo from a shaving executive bragging about besting a competitor's four-blade razor by making one with five."
No wonder, all sorts of men are opting for traditional safety razors, creams, brushes, and salves. The Wall Street Journal has created this fascinating exposee.