On Wed, 18 Sep 1996, Jeff Gorman wrote:
> Re "Scary Sharp" sharpening, Don Berry wrote:
> ~ OTOH.... Bah, humbug! SS just ain't all that special. It is
> ~ reasonbly convenient if one hasn't already obtained a basic set
> ~ of stones and some means for buffing/polishing, but it's not
> ~ as if takes your irons and chisels into a a new range of sharpeness
> ~ previously unknown outside of Tibet.
> Dead right Don! But all credit to Steve LaMantia for a brilliant new
> name for an old idea.
I think I'll momentarily come out of "lurk retirement" for this.
Jeff G's right. It's a very old idea.
And John D's right, and Jeff G's right again, too. There is such a thing
as too sharp for the purpose. No sense shining the car just before
driving through the mud. John and Jeff's point is a good one: it's
important to pay attention and learn to feel what's necessary, and what's
overkill and wasted effort.
And Don B's right, too. Sandpaper sharpening's not anything special.
It's just one way, of many.
I've never participated in any of the "sharpening method A is better than
sharpening method B" discussions for one strong reason. Well, two, if I
include the fact that I don't think I'm experienced enough to
intelligently participate. But the reason other than that is because
sometimes those discussions start to feel like there is a presumption that
the notion of "better" is a constant and that it is objective. It's not,
and it's not.
That the notion of "better" isn't constant is obvious, I think. As in all
methodology, what's suitable in one situation can be not so suitable in
another. We learn what's appropriate from experience, our own and as
related by others, and if we're wise we act accordingly. That's just
That the notion of "better" isn't objective, though, isn't so quick to
come because we're all looking with different eyes. We each arrive at our
individual methods by evaluating them through our own priorities, which
can be arrived at analytically but surprisingly can also be the partial
result of emotional reactions, too. But however we come up with our
preferences, it's always true that different people in identical
circumstances are sometimes going to prefer different solutions, and yet
everyone's still as sane as the next guy. It's that simple, and arguments
that ignore this are going to get nowhere.
I like the sharpening method I use because it accomplishes the goal --
always a main consideration, eh? -- and it also minimizes to my
satisfaction some problems with other methods that I didn't like having. I
make that a very general statement on purpose, because I think that's all
anyone needs to consider, the rest being detail. Does something get you
where you want to go, and do you enjoy (or can you at least tolerate) the
journey getting there?
Enough philosophy stuff. Bryan C mentioned something that caught my eye:
> ... I managed to get EIGHT cuts in one finger and NEVER felt any of
> them. Right now I would count the number of cuts on the one hand but I
> can't count that high. Needless to say my hand looks like, well, a
> hand that has been introduced to the Scary Sharp (tm) system. ...
>From this description, I'd suspect that those cuts didn't come from an
actual cutting edge but instead were caused by a non-cutting edge made
sharp inadvertantly. Sometimes when polishing the back of a chisel you
will end up, as a secondary effect, putting a sharp edge along both sides
of the chisel, along the arrises where the backface meets the sides. Then
in paring with the chisel, where the fingers of one hand steadies the
chisel by holding the blade by the sides near the cutting edge (in the
region where you polished the back), you can end up with numerous small
lacerations on those fingers, very much like shallow paper cuts. I've
done this a few times myself, and didn't know I was getting cut up until I
suddenly noticed blood on the chisel blade. Now whenever I finish
polishing the back of a blade, I very lightly relieve these non-cutting
edges with some fine sandpaper.