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The Editors Mailbox

Sharpening 101: A Lesson in Cutting the Cheese?

comments (15) July 15th, 2009 in blogs, videos

sscott Stephen Scott, associate editor
thumbs up 101 users recommend

Video Length: 2:26
Produced by: Steve Scott, Gary Junken, Tom Olivares

Here's an outtake from our recent Sharpening Doctor video series, in which Gary Rogowski helped a couple of readers improve their sharpening skills. We didn't have room for this segment in the original videos, despite the good advice, but it's worth sharing.

One of the fun - and sometimes challenging - things about working with Gary is watching him improvise, making props out of whatever is handy. In this case, it was the mid-morning snack. The brilliant thing is, the demo works rather nicely. It makes me wish all the more that the tape had been rolling when Gary honed a spokeshave iron with an onion bagel...

Seriously, let me know what you think about this clip, and about the Sharpening Doctor videos in general. We'd like to do more of these Doctor articles and videos in the future, too, so comment here if you're interested or send me a note at

- Steve S.

posted in: blogs, videos, sharpening

Comments (15)

sharonlev sharonlev writes: Indeed Gary is one of the more entertaining teachers to watch, which makes picking up new techniques easier and faster.

thanks gary - that was the last nudge I needed to go and get a wet sharpener after years of using the scary-sharp method with a jig. now I can touch up free-hand - what a time saver.

Is that cheese A2 or O1 ?
Posted: 1:48 pm on July 29th

kodawari kodawari writes: Gary is one of the finest teachers and entertainers out there in the world of woodworking. This is a very hard-to-find combination and, as such, must be enjoyed and shared as much as possible.

By the way, if you haven't already done so, go check and subscribe to his blog's RSS feed on his school website. You'll be amazed to discover he is a great writer too.

Please, go ahead and bring us more videos and contributions from him.
Posted: 5:14 am on July 24th

Lincolnman Lincolnman writes: I understand what he's showing and the two tactile points to stabilize. I wish he showed actually doing it. Also, using a hone stone, I don't understand how to get a flat bevel. Once you use the stone, the stone gets its own rut where the sharpening takes place and then it, in and of itself, is no longer flat and able to give a flat bevel. That is a conundrum and I feel very unconfident using a plane.
Posted: 5:42 pm on July 23rd

Rxgarcia Rxgarcia writes: This video helped me understand the two methods of sharpening, as well as how to place the final edge on my chisels. As someone who has tried various methods and, like many, avoid my chisels because of the frustration I am looking forward to trying out this method.
Posted: 5:34 pm on July 23rd

Bobbyv46 Bobbyv46 writes: I never understood why every sharpening article I saw said to put the blade to a grinder, I see why now. However, since doing the back and forth thing instead of a figure 8, which I learned MANY years ago, I have not had any problems sharpening freehand (not that I had any problem with 8 I do both). Of cource I am not a professional so I have plenty of time and am never in a rush to sharpen
Posted: 8:36 pm on July 22nd

jrdebelben jrdebelben writes: No more wondering on my part why I had to work so hard at planing! I have viewed Mr. Rogowski's series numerous times. My irons are all polished nicely, buy certainly not sharp. I'll apply Gary's lessons and hopefully stop whining and sweating while trying to get a good planed surface. My thanks to all involved in the series.
Posted: 6:38 pm on July 22nd

nickedfinger nickedfinger writes: He definitely takes the mystery out of sharpening and makes it more simple for me, a progressing novice, to understand.
Posted: 10:45 am on July 22nd

Aplantfan Aplantfan writes: I learned this from the guys at Rosewood Studios. If I had known it before then I wouldn't have spent 15 years trying to avoid chisels and planes.
Posted: 10:36 am on July 22nd

thedovetailjoint thedovetailjoint writes: Is there anything cheese can't do? Nice video Gary.

Posted: 10:36 am on July 22nd

ayavner ayavner writes: Nice "tootorial". This will really help to hone my Kraft!

Posted: 9:01 am on July 22nd

Garnet70 Garnet70 writes: The video where he uses the bench grinder and the stone together really makes it clear how they work together. The bench provides the concave curve that provides just a small beveled edge that can be sharpened quickly with the stone. Then, over time, as that edge wears down, the user has a tendency to cut a deeper and deeper secondary bevel at the edge as the concave edge becomes flattened and then, effectively convex, bringing us back to the point where we re-curve the center of the edge again on the bench grinder. I get it now! Since Gary emphasized its importance, I would like to learn more about the type of wheel and how it was dressed.
Posted: 10:32 pm on July 21st

oversixty oversixty writes: love the vidio on sharpening but could be better of he shouwed more of what he is doing in close up. i could not realy see much of the detail only him and the shop. oversixty
Posted: 3:48 am on July 18th

ErickO ErickO writes: I think this clip is great. It simultaneously provides a great vehicle to teach, and it showcases the many sides of one of your talented (and funny) contributors. More "doctor" videos would be great. Keep the humoros takes in next time, after all, woodworking should be fun.
Posted: 10:37 am on July 17th

Tom Tom writes: That's probably better than head cheese... though I suppose if he cut himself it could be wine cheese...
Posted: 11:55 am on July 16th

MBerger MBerger writes: I sure hope Gary was using sharp cheddar cheese for that demonstration :)
Posted: 6:03 pm on July 15th

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