rough curls

curls of walnut it is said that when your blade is properly honed, it will slide through wood like butter...

The biggest challenge for me, learning wood craft on my own, is learning to sharpen my tools. Unlike writing, where "sharpening your tools" includes a pencil sharpener, a writing practice, and a dedication to work, in woodworking your tools are sharpened by hand, with a stone and elbow grease and a lot of practice.

Without a lot of support locally for the learning, I've been relying on books, videos, and practice to sharpen my tools. But the idea of grinding an expensive tool to a razor-sharp edge (and the risk of doing it very wrong and damaging the blade) has kept me from actually putting the gouge to the grindstone.

Until today.

The fear of doing something wrong is a powerful motivator. But the yearn to do something new, to take a skill and put it into practice, can be greater. I couldn't wait any longer to work on my building my spoons. I couldn't sit on my hands, waiting for a teacher to appear from thin air, when I want to be carving spoons and cutting boards.

So I pulled out my very tiny diamond stones (because that's what I can afford right now), printed off the sharpening instructions, and set to work. With a little effort, a little deep breathing, and some polishing compound, I had a gouge ready for use. I clamped the spoon blank, and started cutting.

And it went through the hard walnut, smooth as butter.

One of the many lessons in this wood crafting journey is about the power of diving in. I might knit the net on the way off the cliff, but only to distract my brain from forgetting that I don't have wings -- because that's the moment they will appear. With sharpening chisels, with making a cutting board, with writing a novel -- the most important thing is simply to begin.