Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Drawsharp Number?

I want to start out by saying I'm not a regular drawknife user. this puts me in the best/worst possible position to review the Galbert Drawsharp honing guide.

I'm not going to get all technical with a review of this tool... OK I probably will. I will try to only put forth information that is relevant and might not get somewhere else with a tiny bit of research, 

First off, this is not snake oil, this is the real deal innovation. It's the kind of ridiculously simple idea that makes you slap your head and say "Dang, Why didn't I think of that!" It is brilliant and obvious as so many great ideas are (and yet somehow not previously patented) 

Second, it is impecibly made like all benchcrafted products. While it is my first purchase from Benchcrafted, it probably won't be the last, given the silky movement of the vises at HandWorks.
Both of these points mean it's worth your money if you own a drawknife. period... end of story. Go buy it. I do have some ideas for improvement in my mind but that is really only for Mark II considerations for the product, if anyone besides my mom reads this blog, which by now surely even she is gone. 
I paid full price for this tool (though contrary to C. Schwartz, if any boutique toolmakers are interested in me poorly hawking their wares, let me know...) 
I could have made some personal copy of this product; but this is a case where the inventor and maker of a product have certainly earned my support. (And given my 400yr project backlog I probably I wouldn't get around to making it anytime soon and I wanted to give green woodworking a try sooner)
My experience with Drawknives is simple, Growing up dad had a rusty unsharp drawknife hanging on nails in his garage, I knew it was dull and never even touched it. Recently he aquired 4-5 more (in a similar state) at an auction for pennies. So here we are at square one.

Seemless of course, I could have probably used the refurb kit since I knew I would be starting with a bunch of rusty tools... but that cost as much as the fabled BC Skraper so I sprung for that instead. Justifying a purchase with "saved" funds is always easier. I ended up using coarser PSA sandpaper which worked just fine. I did spring for the refill kit, which is really unnecessary as you will find in time, but no harm, no foul $5.

Unboxing. I usually think unboxing is stupid, but the packaging is great, from the retro "hone-o-matic" naming on the tin (tins....+1) to the brightly colored shipping paper (which I think is anti-corrosive or something) and on to the nicely arranged kit of parts carefully fit into the tin. 
This is the first problem. Not putting it together; I LOVE that it was sent to me in parts, because I also love legos and putting this thing together (<20 min tops) gives me a sense of connection "and I helped!" #shakeandbake. The problem is, it's so nicely packed that you want to save it all, and when assembled, it doesn't fit back in the tin. Currently, I'm disassembling it and returning it to the tin. If the posts folded 1-way out of the way or something. I have mechanism ideas I'm happy to share, if anyone at benchcrafted cares or the tin could just be resized.

Directions: Clear and concise. Though it clearly says to grind/file the back of the knife smooth, I got anxious and went ahead after only "kind of" getting it smooth, but definitely knocked off burrs. After restoring 3 bumpy knives, the plastic plate shows some wear, but is fine for the rest of my lifetime of sharpening.

Using: Some $0.05 cutout rectangles of rougher grit PSA disks applied on the unused sides of the square tube sped up removing rust pitting. After that, a couple quick swipes made them razor sharp. I love the unit-less marking system as you can sharpie them on your knife easily with dissimilar numbers & come back to them easily. I did sharpie in the vernier line on the orange anodized pieces for a bit more contrast.

Here's my quibbles. 
The back & bevel end geometry is identical. I recognize they are shaped to fit the tin, but if one end was scalloped/grooved or something it would help remove a tiny bit of second guessing. It shouldn't add any machining to make one end tactilely different in some way.

The threads should be 90 deg to the posts. This would allow 2 things, smaller diameter knobs as the torque required is not what arrests movement (short bolts not best used in shear.) In one instance the bevel post started slipping, causing some minor rework.
 Second, changing the retention direction allows it to become micro adjustable, which is a welcome addition IMO. Though a jam nut or some "lock" would likely be required.

Probably these ideas for improvement have been considered and shelved in the interest of keeping the end user cost down, which I appaud. Regardless, this simple tool allowed me to return 3 tools from the brink to razor sharp and at the same time introduce me to a useful tool that was really off my radar due in part to sharpening concerns. Now I'll use a drawknife all the time I'm sure. Definately the Galbert Drawsharp is a good buy.

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