Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick maker

I don't do any butchering (except in wood), but I do bake. What about candlesticks?

I cannot resist the pole lathe. I suppose it should be called the bungee cord lathe, because the restoring mechanism is a bungee cord. So what should I turn next? Why, that old lathe standard, a candlestick. Should the recipient need to light a candle to St Jude (the Patron Saint of desperate causes) then she shall have the proper fixture for the purpose.
Blurry photo. Drat. I am in "scenic mode" and I need to wait for autofocus to work. Haste makes waste, in photography as elsewhere. Anyway, this is J. Random Birch. It turned out (no pun intended) to be spalted, or tiger-striped, a valued quality. The picture shows a very rough stage in candlestick; it will undergo major slimming as we go. Aided by my trusty diamond hones, I sharpened up all my gouges. Unbelievable difference. On a powered lathe, the motor overcomes dull tools. Not so an a foot-powered lathe. I have a spindle gouge designed for turning, but until I put the diamond hone on it, it wouldn't cut, it would just scrape.

And, I see, I am in major rant mode. Bear with me, or just stop reading here if sharpening tools is not your thing.

I have said it many times, and I will say it again: modern tools are just too **** hard. The manufacturers know all about hardening, but they assume (correctly) that the average user is a lazy ignorant snerd, who won't learn to sharpen his or her tools. So they harden their tools way beyond the reasonable point, in hope that Jim (or Jane) Snerd gets some use out of the tool before it has to be (uck) replaced. The manufacturer is well aware that he will make some Geld out of the replacement. Further incentive to harden 'er way up! Rc 80, here we come!

My favorite sharpening medium is the Japanese water-stone. But if you try to do, for example, a kitchen knife, a good quality one, say a Sabatier, on a Japanese stone, you will be wasting your time. On these stainless, chrome-vanadium, ultrahard tools it is either a belt sander or a diamond. The instructions with the knife say something like "once a year, have it professionaly sharpened. "

Bah, humbug! Your professional sharpener will put it on a belt sander, touch it up with a diamond, and voila! That will be $20.00, please. I can do much better with periodic touchups with a diamond. I am really glad I bought that $7.60 diamond hone at Lowe's (or maybe it was Home Depot),

Well, rant over. But what's the use of having a blog if you can't put in a good rant once in a while, I ask you?

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