Cutting wood or sharpening knives

A riff about whittling and tool care

I love whittling.

I love taking a piece of wood and turning it into a figure, an animal, a spoon or a hollowed out clown nose.

Each cut is an exploration of the blade's relationship with the grain. It’s simple in some ways. It’s never a matter of why something happens. Every moment is one considering “what is happening,” and “how is that happening” and what to do next.

I can pick up any of the knives that I whittle with and start cutting wood immediately.

I know that they are sharp and have been honed after every use.

I have a leather strop. On this strop, I apply a gritted sharpening compound.

(a client recently remarked that it was the largest crayon they’ve ever seen)

I love using all of these things together to sharpen my knives.

There have been some times where I’ve spent more time sharpening my tools than actually cutting wood. I’ve messed up some of my blades by sharpening them too much. They became rounded, dull and obtuse from over maintenance. 

And? If I didn’t sharpen them at all, they would eventually grow dull and useless.

When it comes to the tools of your passion, business or career, how much time do you spend sharpening them?

Do you assume they’ll be fine without care?

Does over sharpening tools keep you stuck or leave you with tools so well rounded they’re dull?

Have you over sharpened yourself?