Crumb Trail
     an impermanent travelogue
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm a sharpening nut. It's a habit I picked up in my youth one year when I worked with an old immigrant cabinet maker. He told stories of how he had been an apprentice as a boy in the day when the punishment for mistakes was a beating from the master.

He wasn't allowed to use power tools until he could make a perfect cabinet, starting with a log, with nothing but hand tools. Then he could use power tools when it was faster and easier, though not otherwise better. You can't do such things with dull tools and he retained his mania for sharpness into his old age. I got infected too.

When my buddy lost he knife, left it in my shop, I found it, sharpened it, and returned it to him with a cautionary remark. I knew that he wasn't used to sharp blades. When I house sat for Nannette and Chuck I sharpened their kitchen knives. Left a cautionary note. I even sharpen my shovels. Digging is much easier.

Today I sharpened the lawn mower blade, but not just a regular sharpening, a scary sharpening where the last pass it with a diamond strop. What a difference! It's as if I had doubled the engine power and speed. In thick, tall stands that used to bog it down and need two slow passes to cut evenly it hardly strained the engine when mowed at a normal pace.

I should have known that would happen. I had wondered about it for some time but never put a great edge on the blade. People already made fun of me for sharpening my blade so well and so often, as if it was a waste of time or a compulsive habit. I wish that old man was still around. He would have chided me about my dull blade and I'd have done this really useful upgrade long ago.

posted by back40 | 5/03/2006 06:59:00 PM


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