For decades, Fine Woodworking’s tradition has been to offer expert guidance from great woodworkers, helping readers learn new techniques and avoid mistakes. But try as we might, we can’t always anticipate which parts of a woodworking task will trip a reader up.

More from this series

Introduction (now playing)
Part One: Flatten the back
Part Two: Grind the bevel 
Part Three: Hone the edge 

So we stopped trying to guess. Late last year, we experimented with a brand-new kind of article. In “A Trip to the Dovetail Doctor” (FWW #201), we let you follow along and learn from a fellow reader’s mistakes as he struggled with one of woodworking’s most familiar but challenging tasks. Contributing editor Gary Rogowski corrected his flaws in technique and answered his questions, letting us pinpoint some often lingering misconceptions.

Now the experiment continues. We sought new patients for the woodworking doctor, asking readers which tasks—despite careful study and practice--continue to frustrate them. The most common cry for help came from readers who’ve fallen in love with hand tools but can’t quite master the dance of getting them sharp.

To make sure we would encounter a broad range of problems, we chose two patients: Aaron Petersen of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Marco Cecala of Phoenix. (Read the companion article from FWW #206) “My sharpening skills have been built on reading articles in your magazine and online, watching videos, and trial and error--mostly error,” Petersen told us. “Without understanding what it’s like to use a truly sharp edge, it’s hard to know if I’m doing it correctly.”

Both Petersen and Cecala are longtime power-tool woodworkers who started using hand tools in the last couple of years. Each man was frustrated by inconsistent sharpening results. And, with our help, both traveled to Rogowski’s school in Portland, Ore., to figure out why.

In this five-part video series you'll get in the shop with the sharpening doctor, meet the patients, and get Rogowski's Rx for dull blades. In the introduction, find out how sharp is sharp as Rogowski tests the patients' tools.