Sharpening Station

Sharpening has been a sore point ever since I moved into the current shop. I had a good spot next to a sink in the shop, but didn’t have any kind of stand or surface to put the stones. So I ended up putting them on a counter on the near-opposite side of the house. This was an unfortunate situation, not just because I’d have to ramble all the way over there every time I wanted to sharpen something. The lighting was bad, the mess I made over there was atrocious, and its temporary nature made me unwilling to organize further.

I had originally intended to make a freestanding sharpening station to put next to the shop sink, but every stand that I made ended up unscrupulously co-opted. Finally, I realized that instead of a stand, I could just put some strong shelf-like brackets into the wall there, making it more of a built-in. It would theoretically be less work than another stand. Then I gave myself some additional “motivation,” saying that I would not sharpen another tool until the sharpening station was in its rightful spot, though I am unsure if this was a good idea or not.

I started by installing a sheet of drywall into the wall framing (it was bare before), and painting it white so that it would reflect light. Then I got to making the brackets themselves:

These are sort of mini-timberframe-like things in southern yellow pine. I decided to use drawbores for the shelf support joints, but didn’t bother on the brace joints. (I do not want to talk about how long I spent making those pegs.) There are two stiles, each with upper and lower shelf supports.

I made a stretcher to go between the upper supports so that the upper shelf would be very strong and resistant to movement and racking (this is, after all, where the work would be done). When I glued and drawbored everything into place, it looked like this:

I was somewhat unsure of how easily it would install on the wall, but it turned out to be easy enough when I used double wedges off of a support on the floor to get the stiles plumb and the brackets level:

Each stile is screwed directly into a stud behind the drywall in three spots. After a bit of stress-testing, I was satisfied that the top brackets were up to the task, so I added some crappy plywood shelves, put my stone holder and other stuff on the top, infrequently-used supplies (or otherwise questionable purchases) below, and called it done:

The stone holder is attached to the upper shelf, which is in turn screwed onto the brackets. This should eliminate any kind of slippage without the need for anti-skid pads. Bottles with water and camellia oil are on the overhang to the right, and my two honing guides are behind the stones. There’s even a faux-backsplash that’s nothing more than a leftover piece from a home renovation project.

Then I sharpened a chisel quickly to make sure that I had a functional setup. Anticlimactic, as intended.

3 thoughts on “Sharpening Station

  1. Anticlimactic, forever useful. I have had this conversation with any number of people employing the usage of equipment and nearly all say. “I should have done it years ago.” Workstations, toolboxes, benches, you name it. I found when making pegs drilling a bit of scrap steel with the appropriate diameter hole, splitting off slightly oversized blanks with straights grain, then belting them through to be pretty effective. Man is it noisy though for framing! Hope your sharpening is more effective with a dedicated spot.

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    • “I should have done it years ago” often comes up as a thought, but sometimes there are unavoidable reasons for delay. For me, it can take a long time to figure out what to do. It didn’t even occur to me until a few months ago that putting up a sheet of silly drywall (which I already had!) would solve a lot of problems. This is OK for me; it’s not my profession. Sometimes you can talk to other woodworkers to pick their brains, but this past year, it’s been a bit difficult for in-shop stuff because there are lots of peculiarities with every space.

      I wish I’d had some scrap steel; the banging-through-the-hole technique is one I considered. Unfortunately (?) when I thought about how long it would take me to scrounge up some steel versus just sitting down and riving/shaving four little pegs, the latter ended up being quicker, at least in my feeble mind. If I ever have to do drawbores in quantity, I won’t do it that way.

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      • Well, I am fortunate (my wife questions this) in having lots of offcuts of material around which seem to buildup even with dedicated usage from my work. I think I used a 4mm bit of plate from a pergola bracket. I am guilty as any with regards to necessary, read more efficient, setups with tools, workflow etc that are on the to-do list. Shaving pegs looks easy from the vids I have seen of people with a shave horse and proficiency with drawknife and spokeshave. Haven’t got around to making one of those yet either šŸ™‚

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