Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

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Happiness Is A Sharp Chisel!

Happiness is a sharp chisel!Each time I start a new dulcimer or group of dulcimers I take an hour or two and sharpen everything in sight. Occasional stropping keeps my tools sharp but starting a new project is a convenient time to do any necessary grinding and honing.

Since I work in a small shop almost everything happens on the bench. In the photograph above is the setup I use for honing. It is nothing more than a bench hook on which I place my sharpening stones.  When not in use the bench hook, diamond stones, and fine water stones live on a shelf and when in use I move it to the bench. The coarse waterstones live in a container of water near by. I usually remember to feed them. I use the same spray bottle I use to mist sides during bending to spritz water on the stones.

I prefer using waterstones because I get a lot of feedback through my fingers while honing and quickly achieve a polished edge. I bought the diamond stones years ago. They are handy when honing a narrow tools that could easily gouge a waterstone but as I have gotten better at using waterstones I rarely need them. When the waterstones need flattening I lap the coarse stones on a cinder block with some water and lap the fine stones on the coarse stones.

On the other end of the bench and not in the photograph is a cherry dulcimer about to receive frets. As I said, everything happens on the bench.

Well, almost everything.


The Joy Of Honing

The joy of honing.A few days ago my finest waterstone shattered. I can’t complain; it had given me over ten years of service and was $30 well spent.

This afternoon a replacement waterstone came in the mail and I took it out for a spin.

I find honing an edge to be a relaxing experience and a form of active meditation. These days I do most of my honing freehand so there are no jigs and gizmos to deal with. I like waterstones because I get a lot of tactile feedback on what is going on between the steel and the stone.

I like feeling two surfaces gradually becoming a single, sharp edge.

A blade becomes sharper and I become more relaxed.


What’s On The Bench – 4/21/2017

On the bench are three planes that have been getting quite the workout lately. They started complaining that they were overdue for a sharpening. I have come to trust their feedback so I took them seriously. Here they are minus their blades. They feel empty and lonely without their blades but this situation will not last long.

Three planes patiently awaiting sharp blades

I move a few things around and the workbench becomes a sharpening station. If I still subscribed to woodworking magazines I would know I am supposed to have a dedicated sharpening station with running water and a bidet. I do the best I can with what I have. It works just fine.

Sharpening stones and a stinkbug

When I turned my head for a moment a stinkbug decided to visit the stone in the center. I turned my head again and the stinkbug was gone. Few know that stinkbugs have developed teleportation. Now you too are among the few who know this.

Three plane blades and a strop in the late April

After honing the blades on the stones they each get a few strokes on a strop and are once again ready to rejoin their planes. Everyone is happy. I assume the stinkbug is happy too.

Warner Little Wonder Water Motor

Sharpening Gizmosity

Warner "Little Wonder" Water Motor

I’m selling these gizmos short. The water motors not only power a grinding and buffing wheel; they can also power a sewing machine, wash bottles, and clean lamp chimneys.

In the case of “Divine’s Red Devil Water Motor” we also get to ponder if using this device requires selling one’s soul to the dark side. I think not, but what do I know?

Divine Water Motor

Strops Gone Wild

Automatic Razor Strop

I don’t think I would want a shave from a barber who didn’t have the manual dexterity to strop a razor freehand!

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers