Sharpening the Itty Bitties

I’m nearing the tail end of a long term project involving in part the sawing and preparing, and ultimately using, mahogany crotch veneers.  Given my skill is not yet Roubo-esque I sawed the veneers to a fat 1/8″ because I had no room for error, in other word I would have to begin all over again with another piece of lumber if I could not get this to work out right.

The weight of the veneer made it a delight to work with, that is until I had to thin it down to the final thickness.

Working squirrely wood like this is less amusing than you might think.  The grain was so wild I came down to only two real options; aggressive toothing plane work, which I did plenty of, or using a handled luthier’s palm plane.  This latter step was immensely helpful once I got the tool tuned up.  It reminded me of a lesson from the foundry pattern shop; to really hog off material in a hurry, use a small convex spokeshave that is sharper than sharp.

The tool in question was probably cobbled together but had real possibilities.  The iron was adequate for nibbling at straight grain wood, but needed to be upgraded considerably in the sharp department.  Given that the iron was barely larger than my pinkie fingernail I spent a couple minutes trolling in the shop for help.

Then I found the perfect tool, my jeweler’s hand held vise.  With the tiny iron securely held in its jaws I could sharpen it effortlessly just like it was a narrow iron four inches long.  Piece of cake.

It sharpened to a brilliant mirror and uber sharp cutting in literally three or four minutes.

Putting it to hard work was a pleasure.  It hogged off stock like a pro, and all it took afterward was some time with one of my toothing planes to get it ready for application.

And all because I went shopping for just the right holding device in my own toolbox, allowing me to get the teeny iron sharper than sharp..