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Aug 20 2014

On Sharpening Better.

If we read and follow what is written on sharpening, we learn there have been debates. It’s all good, we all understand what we understand. It’s a developed perception, and those perceptions reflect what we understand at the point we’re at.

I am not here to debate. But I am here to share some thoughts I feel are worth considering if we want to become better at sharpening.

Depending on where one finds themselves on the sharpening learning curve, our current place on that curve is influential to our thinking on the matter. True, no matter if we are novice, proficient or between.

People are different. Some roll with the first thing that works for them and settle in. At the other end of the spectrum, are the adventurous who push the envelope, always. There is value in both types, and both can offer valuable advice and opinion. I’ve learned it is good to understand that there is always a mix, it is good to be willing to adapt, and more we can learn if we keep an open beginner’s mind.

In my career as a tradesman, I’ve seen more than one professional off into their retirement, and many offered mentoring advice, because they cared about the trade and coworkers they were leaving behind. The advice offered most often was “Remember to learn something new everyday.”

Technology marches on, right? We all know this. We are still learning something new… It isn’t all planned obsolescence. Change can be good if we are wise with the changes that will come, and change will come anyway, so why not have a seat at the table?

There is an adage that says: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Another says:”Doing the same thing in repetition and expecting change to result is a recipe for insanity.”

Woodworkers have lamented for ages that sharpening, the steels, the abrasives the process… All would be nicer if they could be made easier.

I’ve listened to this ongoing conversation, and so have others. Companies are developing new steels and abrasives, to improve finish quality and productivity while requiring less effort and maintenance. Some of these emerging technologies are in new forms such as powdered metallurgy, super tough abrasives mixed in sprays compounds and pastes. There is also attention being paid to methods, jigs, stations, and the applications of sharpening.

The why of it is simple. To attain this requires us to think or rethink the circle of steels, abrasives and sharpening from the beginning. The a priori of the process that enables this work. Steels with the ability to attain and retain sharpness require better abrasives to grind and hone them. It isn’t easy for any of these things to be all things, but it is what we are attempting to find and improve so we can improve the outcomes we desire. If we want this, it isn’t just one thing we must adopt, we have to adopt the ensemble.

To be certain, respect is being paid to the infrastructure that is the built environment of sharpening, so that backward compatibility is addressed. No one wants to alienate or be alienated. No technology left behind if you will, but without adopting some of what is new, one’s own sharpening world cannot move forward. We can also choose not to evolve anything, and yet, this too is still a choice. We also have to accept what comes with that choice if it limits us.

I believe there are a couple of understandings about sharpening our tools that are worthy of adoption. One is a wise saying that states, “Keeping the knife sharp takes very little work”. Two, is that for the best sharpening, a kit is truly an ensemble of the best methods, abrasives and jigs that enable the highest levels of sharpness in the least effort and time.

This does mean that a mixed method sharpening kit is likely going to optimize the process for what works best for each stage of the grinding and honing process. An improvement over using just one technology by far. Augmenting the kit is good. Sharpening our tooling has a lot of needs to address.

For our part in helping improve the built sharpening environment, I have developed our Magstrop™ sharpening station system that offers quick change interchangable sharpening surfaces in a small footprint that is easy to fixture on the bench. It allows you to keep the knife sharp, quickly, with very little mess, and get back to working wood.

This is an effort to address (in part) what people say they want from sharpness and sharpening. This is about paying attention to optimizing the process. Magstrop stations optimize, and can combine the best sharpening methodologies in ensemble, accommodating the built sharpening environment and what evolving sharpening technologies. They also remove a lot of barriers, so we can just sharpen our tools and do it easily.

I can address the details further, and will in the coming time. For now if we can get our mind around the idea that coarse grinding and messy hard sharpening work is very rarely required if we adopt getting them sharp initially and then maintaining our edges to a high degree of sharpness while we work with the tools. If we apply ourselves to making a solid habit of that, then as an example, investing and maintaining in a lot of coarse grinding infrastructure that wears our quickly isn’t as necessary beyond initial set up. Money and time savings are in the balance.

Coincidently I have tooling and method workarounds that address and can minimize the heavy effort part of coarse grinding work in the sharpening kit which we’ll share later. Sound interesting?

The ability to sharpen harder steels and with less time, and perhaps even lower cash investment is closer to right now than many are aware, but we have to be willing to change and adapt away from traditionally held thought in order to get there. Some things must be ventured in order to be gained. Yes?

Too, sharpening is just means to the end result. Transparently enabling quality in your finished product, while allowing the freedom of craftsmanship and creativity shine through. There will be a series of further considerations on sharpening forthcoming. Stay tuned.

Magstrop Sharpening Stations

The Magstrop™ Sharpening Stations are custom made to order. They are helpful and adaptable to most sharpening methods in use and can be ordered today.

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© Copyright 2014 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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Aug 18 2014

Shooting Boards and Woodworking Safely.

Over the past several years I have received many inquiries regarding woodworking methods that are difficult to make safe. Believe me, being very fond of my fingers and their daily health is always in the forefront of my mind as a full time toolmaker.

Finger Hazard Warning

Some of the most common questions have been regarding working with short lengths of stock, and thin stock. Both of these sizes of wood not only commonly put our fingers in the near vicinity of rotating cutters on many different power tools and shop machines, but are also such that the power tool or shop machine can grab them and remove control from the operator.

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Aug 01 2014

Ben’s Mill. A documentary on many levels.

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Ben’s Mill is the story of a mill that had been used by generations, for generations- having evolved to meet the needs of a local marketplace and community.

Ben’s Mill is a story about a community that relied on a water powered wood processing mill, blacksmith and odd jobs shop to help them with things they needed to help them live their lives better, and easier.

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Jul 24 2014

Magstrop™ Sharpening Stations. New From Evenfall Studios

Published by under Uncategorized

Magstrop Leather 50/50.jpg

The Magstrop™ Sharpening Station: Leather 50/50.

Think micro-abrasive compounds, emulsions, sprays.

Magstrop  All Glass.jpg

The Magstrop™ Sharpening Station: All Glass.

Think abrasive and micro-abrasive papers and films.

The Magstrop Combo Glass/Leather.jpg

The Magstrop™ Sharpening Station: Combo Glass/Leather.

Think all of the above.

Quick-Change Strop Tops.jpg

Quick-Change Strop Tops™, held physically and magnetically.

Station uses a bench hook. Clamp it in the vise.

Is 14-3/4 inches square.

Cuts it’s own sandpapers.

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Imagine the possibilities.

The Magstrop Bench.jpg

The Magstrop™ Bench.

Uses the same Strop Tops™.

Magstrop Sharpening System.jpg

Fixtures in a bench dog hole.

Measures 11-1/2 by 3-1/4-inches.

Portable sharpening in the space of a whetstone.

Magstrop Sharpening System.jpg

Again, imagine the possibilities.

Possibilities can become realities in your shop.

Please remember to subscribe to our Blog, we offer both RSS and email feeds at the top of every blog page!

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© Copyright 2014 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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Jul 23 2014

Shooting Boards for Wide Board Work

We are now offering a shooting board that balances the need to shoot wide boards for casework and such, with good ergonomics for doing your best work.

Introducing the Wide Board Shooter™:

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The Wide Board Shooter is based on our original shooting board designs, with all the same attention to details and high accuracy that comes with them. These boards are 1.5 times (50%) longer with an overall length of 22-1/8th inches that provides shooting usability in the 18 inch width range.

We offer three versions in the Single Chute Models; Basic which has two angle positions at 45 and 90 degrees, Basic Plus which adds a third mounting point for the fence at 22.5 degrees, and the new Multi configuration which adds the 15 and 30 degree mount points for a total of five positions.

There are also three versions of the Wide Board Shooter in our Double Chute shooting board line, and it is available in the Picture Frame, Casework Molding, and Master Miter Shooter Configurations.

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We offer these boards in Chute Board configurations for use with the Veritas Shooting Plane and LN-51, as well as the Veritas LA Jack, the 62 LA Jack and the LN-9 Iron Miter plane, and on the boards meant for use with the planes that work ambidextrously this means Left or Right Handed and both at the same time on the Double Chute Models.

All our shooting boards come standard with the chutes drilled and tapped for upgrade chute adapters whenever you’re ready! You are never locked into one style of plane. You can run nearly any bench style plane made on our shooting boards from block to jointer. You can upgrade to a chute board with our various adapters using any of all five planes mentioned above and interchange them all. If you aren’t ready to go with a Chute Board style board at first, you can always upgrade it to one anytime, because our boards will swap Chute Adapters interchangeably.

The overall length of the Wide Board Shooter is about the same as the average workbench. We offer many Accessory Upgrades for our shooting boards that include fences for each angle the board can shoot in both standard and Double High versions, and our Any Angle Fence that can be clamped to fixture at nearly any angle.

Other accessories include a cleat for the bottom that converts our boards for easy use with the Festool MFT/3 Workstation, and a Planing Stop that can convert the shooting board into a Planing Board capable of thicknessing to 1/4 inch with ease, and to around 1/8th inch with a sheet of 1/8 masonite laid under the work. It’s handy for safely dimensioning all sides and ends of shorter, thinner boards.

In all it is a very well rounded, versatile shooting board system and a great choice for general shooting, joinery, boxes, casework like bookcases, blanket chests and tool boxes. As always a necessary tool for assuring the most accurate work in veneering and some lutherie applications. An excellent choice whether you work wood hybrid style or hand tools only, and remember that Shooting Board Planes, LA Jacks and Miter Planes can truly run as Chute Board Planes, and interchangeably in all our boards.

As always, it is available for ordering from our Woodworks Store where you’ll find these and all the other Custom Shooting Boards and Woodworking Tools we offer. Please remember, 10% off for Veterans, and 5% off for Paper Transactions.

Please remember to subscribe to our Blog, we offer both RSS and email feeds at the top of every blog page!

For much more frequent woodworking thought for your consideration, please follow our Twitter Feed:


We enjoy your questions, comments, ideas and suggestions! Please Contact Us.

Thanks for visiting Evenfall Studios!

© Copyright 2014 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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Jul 16 2014

Sustenance Woodworking – A Year in the Taiga

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a 90 minute documentary film produced in 2010 by Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov. It follows the life of some trappers and villagers from the village of Bakhtia, along the Yenisei River, in the Siberian Taiga.

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Siberia is a land mass that composes most of eastern Russia, and is larger than the size of the United States. It is largely forested, and life in much of the area has not changed much in over a hundred years. Many of the ways they sustain their lives is very similar to the ways we saw Dick Proenneke live in the documentary about his life, Alone in the Wilderness.

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Jul 15 2014

Shooting Boards for the LN-9 Iron Miter Plane

Published by under Uncategorized

While it is true that the LN-9 is no longer being produced by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, the LN-9 is a long standing king of the shooting board. It is a large, bevel up block plane, bedded at 20 degrees with a 25 degree bevel on the iron, which presents a 45 degree cutting edge to the work.

The Number 9 Iron Miter was originally introduced by Stanley and was repopularized and made better than ever by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Lie-Nielsen evolved it’s design over time with stronger castings, as well as providing a very ergonomic “Hot Dog” handle, similar to what was supplied on the originals. We now offer a Chute-Style Shooting board for the LN-9 Iron Miter Plane.

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The LN-9 Shooter™

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Jul 14 2014

Shooting Boards for the Number 62 Jack Plane

If I were to know I was going to be stranded on a desert island, or marooned anywhere, I would wish for a Jack Plane. If I could get any Jack Plane, I’d want the one I find most versatile, A Low Angle Jack Plane. In fact, I have said my favorite plane on a shooting board is a Low Angle Jack Plane.

The 62 was originally introduced by Stanley and has been repopularized and made better than ever by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, redesigned and reissued by Stanley Tools, and is also part of Woodcraft’s Wood River line in recent times. We now offer a Chute-Style Shooting board for the Number 62 Low Angle Jack Plane.

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The 62 Shooter™

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Jul 14 2014

Guilty as charged – I am a Toolmaker

Published by under Thoughts & Musings,Tool Making

And I blog… If I could, I’d like a few moments of your time. I have a few thoughts I want to share.

When I began the Evenfall Studios Woodworks Blog in early 2008, I was an avid woodworker (still am) and I was running a woodworking business part time. I spent a lot of time writing to woodworking and making topics that I wanted to flesh out and help us all become better woodworkers and makers, and I did. To be certain, I still do want to continue this work.

In 2009 I evolved the business into a full time concern as a toolmaker and Continue Reading »

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Jul 13 2014

Shooting Boards for the Veritas LA Jack Plane

Hands down, My favorite plane on a shooting board is a Low Angle Jack Plane.

It isn’t that I don’t like the Shooting Board Planes, such as the Lie-Nielsen LN-51 or the Veritas Shooting Plane, because I feel they have specific strengths and forte’s on the shooting board. But the LA Jack has so much going in it’s favor, it is hard not to love it on the shooting board. Just to make the LA Jack easier to love even more on a shooting board, We now offer a Chute-Style Shooting board for the Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane.

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The Veritas LA Jack Shooter™

Some of the cool things about LA Jacks on the shooting board is that it has heft, much like the LN-51 and Veritas SP, but it is also ambidextrous, which makes it a great choice for woodworkers who favor either the right or left hand.

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