Tool sharpening and maintenance weekend.

Posted by on Jun 5, 1916 in Beginner's Courses, Courses | One Comment

Due to my semi-retirement this course is no longer offered.

However, you may find the series of free to watch online instructional videos below helpful.

This course expanded the sharpening element of the beginners four day course into a two day weekend. It dealt with the sharpening of edge tools such as chisels and planes, showng the different sharpening methods and media. It also went into detail on the fettling, adjustment and setting up of a bench plane.

Practicing planing technique.

Course Description  This is the first of three basic woodworking skills weekend courses, and is essentially about getting and keeping your tools sharp.  Woodwork is so much easier and more enjoyable with properly sharpened tools.

The course also introduces some of the key woodworking skills; accurate measuring and marking, sawing and planning to a line.

A fully illustrated handout of the course is provided on CD.


About the course.

No. The course is designed specifically for those with little or no experience.

Everyone on the course will be a woodworking novice, having little or no previous woodworking experience. The course starts with a short “limbering up session” where we enjoy the physicality of using a really sharp plane, if you are new to planing you’ll get help with technique.

Next we work on chisel sharpening, starting by flattening the back of the chisel, then grinding and honing the top bevels. You will end up with sharp chisels that can shave the back of your arm!

Towards the end of the first day we direct our attention to “fettling” planes. This will include flattening and sharpening the blade, seating the chip breaker and flattening the sole. At the end of the process you will have beautiful fine shavings flying of your plane.

On the final afternoon you will use the newly sharpened tools to plane up a square workpiece and cut a simple joint.

Topics, skills and methods covered on the course include:

  • Flattening the back of a blade (lapping) using abrasive on glass.
  • Grinding a bevel using a dry grinder
  • Grinding a bevel using wet stone grinder
  • How to tell when a tool needs sharpening
  • Hand honing a fine edge
  • Honing using honing guides
  • Experience of various honing media including water stones, diamond stones and abrasive on glass (scary sharp)
  • A look at various makes and styles of plane and their uses
  • Purchasing planes and chisels on ebay and other second hand outlets
  • How to adjust a plane
  • Honing a camber on a plane blade
  • Preparing a plane’s chip breaker to improve the cut
  • Flattening the sole of a plane
  • Planing a workpiece square and to dimension.
  • Sawing to dimension
  • Marking out and cutting a lap or halving joint
  • Using a shooting board

Watch free instructional videos featuring topics covered on the tool sharpening & maintenance course

online woodwork course video
Watch online video woodwork instruction. Click for full list of videos in this series.

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Listen to Chris talking sharp tools on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 logo

Click to listen (Chris is on from 13:30 minutes)

Chris speaking on BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live with guest Grayson Perry

“A lot of craft work is to do with being in ‘the zone’ and when you’ve got really sharp tools it allows you to be in ‘the zone’. You are not concerned with driving a plane through the wood because the plane is going through the wood so easily… that allows you to use your finesse to get the effect you want.

It [a sharp plane] leaves a fantastic finish with a beautifully burnished surface and a satin feel.” Chris Tribe.

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Thankyou, Chris.


1 Comment

  1. Furniture making basics weekend course. Plane, saw, jointing techique
    26th February 2014

    […] part of the furniture making Basic Skills trilogy. You will be able to pick up where you left of in part one, perhaps skipping some of the timber preparation or recapping on some of the skills in part one if […]