SHARP by Sean Hellman has been a work-in-progress for nearly 15 years.
SHARP is a book that will guide the reader through the principles and practice of sharpening; from definitions and requirements in the chapter What is Sharp? and through chapters explaining edge geometry, how to observe the edge to determine correct sharpening procedures required, all about abrasives (including hand-tools, as well as human-powered and machine tools) and with detailed, step-by-step instructions for as many types of edge tool as we could fit into the book; and with an entire chapter given to plans and instructions for time-saving, effective jigs and guides.
It’s a big book with over 300 pages and nearly 1000 photos and illustrations. Originally written to explain which abrasives to use and how to sharpen green woodworking tools, but it grew and grew.
Tool sharpening is a task that most of us might struggle with at some point, or perceive as some dark and mysterious art; but which is essential to our craft. Ultimately, it is simple: get a stone and rub your tool on it until the tool is sharp. If only!
SHARP by Sean Hellman is aimed at all kinds of edge-tool users but will be of particular interest to greenwoodworkers. Bushcrafters and others will appreciate the sections on knives and axes, as will smallholders who use sickles and scythes. Not to forget the chapter on saws – with details on how to sharpen them, from fine 22TPI dovetail saws, to two-person cross cut saws, and even how to get extra life from those disposable hard point saws that are usually thrown away with abandon.
Information is included for cooks and gardeners; and if you use a push mower to cut the lawn then how about maintaining the cylinder or reel on that mower yourself? Shears of all kinds, from hairdresser scissors to hedge shears, are also covered in a whole chapter.
There is a section on boring tool bits including twist drill bits and augers. Typically when twist drill bits become blunt they are replaced with new ones but with a little understanding of grinding angles and how to make simple jigs to keep these angles consistent, then you only have to buy new ones if they break or wear beyond use.