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Using These Tools to Their Potential

Hand-tool woodworking in every tradition requires maintaining sharp edges. While I had no problem using sharpening jigs, I wanted to teach myself traditional freehand sharpening to understand its benefits. I quickly learned that I had underestimated the skills needed to sharpen a 70mm blade. In retrospect, sharpening a smaller plane would have made things easier for both me and my sharpening stones. In addition, Japanese plane blades are constructed differently than modern Western irons. They have high-carbon steel as the cutting edge, laminated with soft iron that forms the bulk of the body (such as in early Western planes). The steel is heat-treated to be quite hard for good edge retention, but that hardness can make sharpening (especially lapping the...

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Taking Our Work to the Next Level

For those who seek to continually grow in their craft, production work isn’t something to be afraid of or to avoid. It may seem contradictory to think that repetition can open us up to new experiences, but it does. It also helps us to solidify the traits and characteristics that we need to take our work to the next level. It is when we refine our processes as craftspeople that we can increase our level of professional maturity. Production work develops our physical skills through practice and repetition, and helps us find inspiration when we reflect on the process of even the simplest task. Most importantly, production methods tune our mental state with focus, right attitude, and observation. All these...

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But to Replicate the Facility

I flew into Bucharest and caught a long ride north with Mihai Bodea, our documentarian, through the broad, flat Moldavian tableland along the Siret River. In addition to breathtaking views of the Carpathian Mountains in the far west, I caught a few glimpses of distinctive Romanian traditions: vineyards; market fairs by the side of the road; lots of small roadside stands selling onions, peppers, grapes, melons, and other produce; and the iconic caruta horse carts the country is famous for. Many people still use horses in daily life as a practical option, part of a widespread living tradition of regional self-sufficiency. This way of life also manifests itself in other ways such as keeping a home milk cow, scything hay, keeping a...

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