I recently went up to Wiltshire College Chippenham to visit the lecturers & students at the woodwork & construction department. It was the busiest department I have visited so far & I was quite overwhelmed by the number of students who crowded round the work bench to watch my demonstration on how to sharpen a chisel. A lot of enthusiasm was shown and the students were keen to try this new way of sharpening.

One of the lecturers was a bit cautious of the system to sharpen chisels & planes as he (as he said it) was old school. That is absolutely fine in my book because I to was brought up that way & feel that it is important to know how to sharpen “the old way”. You just never know when you might have to do it that way!

One thing that struck me while demonstrating, was how quick the students cottoned on to this “new way” of sharpening.  By the end of the demonstration there were my 2 units & the unit I donated to the department, each being used by 2 or 3 keen students. Answering questions was quite difficult at times as they were coming from all angles. I’m glad I didn’t take up teaching as you need at least 4 pairs of ears & eyes to keep up. Only joking, but it was good to have so much enthusiasm about learning.

How things have changed though in the time from my learning experience at college studying cabinet making & furniture restoration. One of the lecturers pointed out that they had so little time with their students that, although they would teach them how to sharpen “the old way”, there was not enough time to really teach them these skills.  So that skill is never fully taught or learnt due to time constraints & as it is essential to have sharp tools (a sharp tool is a safe tool) it is more difficult for the students to do the job in hand. This means that anything to improve & encourage sharpening skills is essential.


I hope all the students are able now to realise how simple it is to get that perfect edge both simply & quickly which will encourage them to do great things with their tools.

Thanks for all your input & banter guys & good luck in your future careers.

Cheers for now

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