Even though I’m over half way into my sixth decade I really dislike the word “retired”; like Diane says it gives her the connotation of giving up. At church there is a group called The Next Chapter so that’s what I’m adopting at this stage —- I’m into my next chapter! Looking back over the years there have been many, many chapters of my life so why stop now. The goal is to end each day a little more skilled and with a bit more experience than the day before even if it’s accompanied by a bit of frustration. Okay, enough philosophizing, you can probably imagine how my day went!
First issue I’ve had to deal with is the lighting. Planned to visit the Rockler store here in Phoenix to also see about doing hand cut dovetail lessons and while perusing the aisles found their 4′ LED Shop Light. Here you can see how much bright, daylight this thing puts out. Very light in weight and the apartment managers said any hole up to the size of a quarter was acceptable. Hung this with plastic anchors, hooks, and chain provided. There are two strips of LED’s with an aluminum reflector and, much to my Dutch guys approval — it’s currently on sale!
For the sake of comparison, here are the before and after pictures. I’ll need to play around with the settings on the camera to find the best quality picture. Needless to say, this old camera doesn’t have a light source setting for LED!
I suppose that this means I can’t use the lack of being able to see what I’m doing as an excuse anymore.
The second issue is one that I’m sure plaques anyone who carves or works wood and that’s sharpening. On this project I’m doing it’s become obvious that chisels that don’t have the sharpest possible edge just lead to frustration. You’ve heard me say that if you ask 12 woodworkers the same question you’ll get 13 different answers and this is no exception. I checked out the videos from both Chris Pye and Mary May and guess what — they both have a slightly different take on it. As Chris says: “Sharpening is not a mystery but a skill — a make or break aspect of carving”. Although my sharpening skills for cabinet chisels and planes is where I’d like it to be using water stones and jigs, carving gouges are a different matter.
Chris Pye suggests taking one chisel and really working it until it’s right. He calls for quite a pronounced inner bevel (Mary May disagrees) so I’m combing their advice for my work. For these I’ll be using oil stones, old ones that I’ve had for probably 30-40 years! No power since that can mess things up in a hurry, and not water stones since they’re difficult to keep flat especially in our current apartment situation. I began with one of the chisels I’ve had the longest, a #5/19 that I bought for this commission. I also had a #5/23 which I’ll use for comparison. This was a table for an art gallery and my first attempt at adding a carved element to my furniture. That makes this chisel at least a dozen years old or so and during that time most of the honing has been done on a paper wheel charged with compound. Pretty obvious when I look at it closely that it has many facets and some rounding over. Rather than bore you with a lot of verbiage let me explain what was done with this slideshow:
After working it on the rough stone and finally raising a burr on the inside, I switched to a finer stone. This was followed up by stropping. I can see that the bevel is square but the heel is slightly off. I could use a finer stone to get more polish but this is what I have for now. The adage I tell my students when I teach sharpening is true here too: “if you see something, you have nothing!” When you inspect the cutting edge any light reflected means there is a dull spot. I’m pleasedwith being able to establish one long bevel from heel to the tip by hand which did take some time. Used the technique of locking in my elbow, swaying my body from side to side, and rotating the gouge at the same time. This is how both Chris and Mary approach sharpening.
Well, that takes care of a couple of issues which leaves one major one to solve ……