Build a Bath for Your Sharpening Stones
By Matt Kenney
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Plywood and Flex-Seal combine for a waterproof sharpening station
The most important skill for furniture making is sharpening because you only are able to produce your best work if your planes and chisels are genuinely sharp. Several weeks ago, I wrote about what it means for a cutting edge to be genuinely sharp. That’s a separate issue from what media you use to sharpen. I use ceramic sharpening stones, and although they do not need to be soaked like natural waterstones, they still need water to lubricate them and form a slurry. Water is not a great thing to have slushing around in your shop. In my current shop, there is no surface that I can set up for (i.e., make waterproof) and dedicate to sharpening. So, I made a bath for them that’s big enough to also sharpen in and contain all the water, keeping my bench dry.
I got the idea for this sharpening bath from Phil Lowe, who owned and ran the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. His bath was smaller and black. Still, it was the same concept. The drawings below provide the needed dimensions. I made the entire bath from 3/4 in. plywood, gluing it together. After it’s glued together, cover the entire thing (except the bottom) with white Flex-Seal. It comes in a spray can, which makes it very easy, but you’ll need some plastic to cover the area to protect it from overspray. Flex-Seal is great for this purpose because it’s also non-slip, so your stones don’t slide around while you are sharpening.
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