WT252 – Sheeps From Legos

On today’s show, we’re talking about finishing oily woods, when to mill rough lumber, and when to re-flatten sharpening stones

What’s on the Bench?

  • Marc is editing video of his sculpted rocker
  • Shannon is contemplating the design of an urn for his dog
  • Matt is either building a CNC or a Terminator

What’s New?

  • Marc likes a video about a meat cleaver from a saw blade
  • David shared a video with us about Japanese carpentry
  • Dan shared his discovery of a woodworking treasure of archived articles
  • Marc shared a video of a Tin Pan guitar build.


  • Jason has a suggestion for widening dados with a circular saw
  • Britt says the plural of Lego is Lego, Marc doesn’t care.
  • Ka-Loon has some kickback about rehashing woodworking content online


  • Josh wants to know what to build with his spalted maple.


  • Dan has a question about finishing Bubinga.
  • John is curious when to mill his rough lumber.
  • Darth Rust wants to know when to flatten his sharpening stones

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10 replies on “WT252 – Sheeps From Legos”

Hi guys
A note on show 252. On flattening sharpening stones, it sounds like you guys assumed the questions was about Shapton GlassStones. Shapton also makes traditional waterstones (Professional series) which I can attest need to be flattened about as frequently as other waterstones. If the caller has the Professional series then his stones aren’t “crappy” but just normal waterstones that wear. If he was clearly using GlassStones, then ignore me and I’ll just crawl back into my hole and continue to enjoy the work all three of you do.

Actually I don’t think it matter which stones he uses Mike. I recommend flattening after every use. Much like sharpening, the more you do it, the less time you spend actually doing it.

Hey Mike,

I don’t think Darth mentioned which Shaptons, so you could be right about them being the traditional stones.

That’s part of the reason I was attempting to at least mention what I normally do with my glass versions and also my old King stones.

For certain the glass Shapton stones I have hold their shape for a while, but it’s not a bad habit to just touch up the surfaces on all of them after every use, not just so they look pretty like a certain co-host likes them to look.

Hey Guys, great episode. Didn’t expect my email to pop up on WT so soon. You guys are right, the current generation do bring up new ways of tackling classic challenges. I’ve also compared and contrasted how magazines re-visit topics and find that they also do the same (new ways to tackle classic challenges). I guess my observation is that for a several thousand year old craft/trade, revolutionary changes will likely be few and far in between and I can see how those that have been around may start to lose steam to stay on top of things.

I’ll note that Matt Cremona (since I specifically mentioned him) is an example of one of the quality current online woodworkers by my book. I enjoy his videos, and watch all of his “Ask Matt” section. I’d characterize it as nodding in agreement rather than than having “a-hah now I get it” moments.

PS: Still haven’t succeed in milling S4S here. I tried to mill a short 4/4 offcut the other night and I think I end up hitting trapezoidal more so than rectangular. Still working it.

From what Darth said in his email it sounds like he has been flattening plane soles, the backs of chisels and plane irons, and establishing the primary bevel, and, I would hope, also putting a micro bevel on his chisels and plane irons. That’s the grueling tool set up phase that might not best be named sharpening. Once set up is accomplished, sharpening begins and it is a whole lot easier. Set up is a comparatively lengthy process, but sharpening/hoing is quick. During set up, you’re going to be flattening any kind of water stone more often than when sharpening/honing. For sharpening and honing: you can’t form a judgment about how often to flatten from your experience during the set up phase. During set up, it isn’t uncommon to flatten several times just for one blade, depending. Technique may help.

For example, bearing down on the blade as you move it across the stone creates more wear and you have to decide if that wear is uneven. Light and even pressure may be better, and I will be sure that the blade moves about a short 1/8 off the end and off the edges of the stone.

Likewise, when creating the primary bevel usually done at lower grits (120, 220) it may be better to cycle from 120 to 220 to 500 and back while creating the bevel than it is to create that bevel entirely on 120 before moving up grits. I reason that the unavoidable unevenness in the partially created bevel at one grit is better corrected by moving up through a couple more grits as you’re establishing the bevel. Then before going back down to the lower grit, flatten the stones you used. I think any unevenness there does matter since you ultimately want a flat bevel when you’re done.

After you have established your primary and secondary micro bevel: when needed that’s when you use the higher grit stones to sharpen/hone and that doesn’t take much time, doesn’t produce much wear on stones. That’s when flattening a stone is more like a wipe down. For maintenance sharpening/honing you might consider Lee Valley’s diamond lapping film, 3, .5 and .1 micron since the swarf is just wiped off with a few drops of oil and a rag. And those grits are roughly equivalent to 8/16/32K Shapton glass. I’m not sure, but 32 K may be comparable to stropping with leather and stropping compound with the advantage that when using a sharpening jig, there isn’t round over.

As to when to flatten. When they aren’t flat, whatever that means, but just as important, when they are glazed with swarf such that they just aren’t cutting efficiently.

Yes, I agree, when doing the whole “setup” phase for blades it really puts a number on your stones. I probably touched them up several times whenever I’ve had to do that with a new blade.

Thanks for the link tot he old woodworking books. It does show how stupid keyword searches are – most of the items are old commercial directories. Interesting as a source for the changes in trades in various places but not strictly about woodwork.

Both Marc and Matt mentioned the value of hearing a message from the voice of your choice. Also relevant is that some moments you are ready to actually process and use some information. You can read/hear about a technique many times, but when you are in need or just in a receptive mood the message is heard fresh.

As I approach my ten year mark in woodworking I have seen a few cycles in the magazines. When you are new (or a new to you technique) there is so much to learn that not all aspects can sink in. But it is easy to find helpful material. As you become more experienced, the amount you learn from any one article/issue diminishes yet you can still learn or be reminded of something. One small item can have big impact as you have a stronger base.

So I don’t read cover to cover as in the beginning, but I will still read certain articles on very basic techniques and have my woodworking improved for it.

So keep on doing what you do.

Yeah good point. Watching old Woodworks episodes is a completely different experience now vs almost ten years ago. I don’t feel like I have changed all that much but I walk away from those old episodes with a completely different appreciation for what I just saw.

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