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41 Japanese Woodworking: A Gift Guide for Beginners

Sharpening Stones (Toishi) $35

The choices are vast as is the price range. Natural to ceramic, synthetic to diamond, the options are endless. Read around and see what seems to make sense to you. My first stones were made by King in 800, 1000, 1200 and 2000 grit (if memory serves) and they worked fine for many years. Natural stones are nice and many people swear by them, but they tend to be spendy and sometimes inconsistent. I think for starters, man-made stones will be most forgiving and allow you to hone (HA!) skills, and better understand the process before choosing a more expensive stone.
Unpictured: Honing guides. Mixed feelings here. I relied on them when I started, and that was nice so that I could spend more time concentrating on woodworking and less on sharpening. Knowing what I do now and understanding that sharpening is the very bedrock of woodworking, I wish I had weaned myself away earlier. I would say they are OK in the beginning, but don’t allow it to become a crutch. Practice freehand sharpening! A lot.



Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

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Japanese Woodworking: A Gift Guide for Beginners


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