The Complete Guide to Sharpening
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203 of 203 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2000
Ooooh what a book ...
All the positive reviews made me want to know more, so I asked about it at a local woodworking shop and they said, "This is THE best book on sharpening."
It is essential to have sharp tools, I do all my work with handtools but the book goes into great detail on ALL tools, machines, different shapes of tools, the advantages of different techniques ... great detail, but it is also concise, VERY easy to read and understand, and has excellent placement of photos within the text - if you are reading about something on page 30 the pictures will be on page 30, not page 29, not page 35. Also the large pages are broken up nicely with tidbits of fascinating historical and scientific information. In parts, I actually laughed out loud!
There are electron microscope photographs of the edges of blades that have been sharpened using various methods. You can actually see the effects ... you will gain appreciation of lapping and rust prevention ... you will know how to select good tools, good sharpening aids ... you will learn about the structure of wood and how to cut with a blade.
Part of the way through it I thought, "this is great, but I wish it told me how to sharpen my kitchen knives" - wholah! in a few pages it did, it showed me how to use that stupid thing that came with the set of knives, and the method worked very well.
I could not be more pleased with this book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in sharpening, especially woodworkers, these are essential skills. Sharp tools will enhance your entire woodwork experience. You will produce finer work with greater ease, even if you use mostly power tools.
I give it 6 stars out of 5.
If it had all colour photos and was bound in leather, I would give it 10 out of 5 AND it would be a fantastic coffee table book as well (warning: that does not mean it is insubstantial, just that many non-woodworking visitors would very much enjoy it)
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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
This is genuinely the most exhaustive volume I have ever seen in the world of woodworking. Leonard Lee (who is the president of Veritas and Lee Valley Tools) has made every effort to leave out none of the minutia of the world of sharpening. I'm making fun a bit, but there is no question but that this is 'the complete guide ...'

Lee starts right out with the definition of sharpness, the physics of cutting wood, metallurgy, abrasives and equipment. Then he gets down to tools and techniques. Everyone expects chapters on chisels, planes, and knives, but Lee goes on to tweezers, Phillips screwdrivers, claw hammer claws and several other things that you may have never thought were dull.

For all the density of information, Lee's delivery is clear and he makes good use of illustration. And there is a great deal of pleasure to be gained from owning a book that really does live up to its title. Whether beginning or expert sharpener, this is certainly the text to own
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2004
This book by Leonard Lee (who also owns Lee Valley / Veritas tools) is probably the most complete book on sharpening on the market today. He covers metalurgy, composition, tempering and heat treating. He not only discuss's angles for sharpening but why these are the proper angles. Quite a bit of time is spent discussing diffferent edges or degree's of sharpness and why you want to achieve them. You begin to realize he is trying to take a somewhat dry and often confusing process and turn it into something you can fully understand from beginning to end. The fact that he is very passionate about sharp tools comes thru. I especially appreciate the wide selection of sharpening aids that he has included in the book. From the old standby oilstone to the ultra modern complete systems. He offers alternative methods and shows how to achieve that perfect edge.

I also have the cd/dvd companion to the book. It is almost as complete, with a lot of hands on demonstration.

I have always been able to get a good edge on my chisel's and turning tools (except the mini's, old eyes ya know), but was never happy with the edge I would get on my planes. Now they cut those beautiful "curls" everytime. His book makes it simple and easy for me to achieve this.

Recommend this book to everyone, woodworker or not, who needs to be able to get that "edge" on their cutting tools. Can't give it a high enough rating.

The cd/dvd rates way up there also.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2005
I wrote Sharpening Made Easy, a good book on knife sharpening. Leonard Lee's The Complete Guide to Sharpening is a better book and covers more than mine does.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2010
If they added a sub-title to this book aying: "The guide to sharpening and maintaing collectable and unusual woodworking tools" I'd give it a five star rating.

There is a lot of good information in this book for people who want to know all about sharpening and maintaining woodworking tools, particularly some lost-art tools like broad axes, shipwright adzes and two man buck saws. There is also lots of stuff on more obscure tools like Japanese planes and saws, scorps, inshaves, hand molding planes etc. So if you need to figure out the best wat to sharpen your scorp, this book is for you. For the collector, or just the curious about traditional woodworking tools, this book is a must-have.

However it is very light on modern shop tool sharpening and forget about stuff outside the realm of woodworking.

For example: The advice on sharpening a twist drill, a subject upon which an entire book could be written, the author suggests getting a jig or a commercial drill sharpener... but doesn't discuss at all how to use the various jigs, the merits of one vs. another, the differences in drill cutting geometry, or how to obtain various sorts of drill points. He devotes less than one column to the entire subject of twist drills while devoting a whole chapter to burnishing cabinet scrapers. This is a noteable omission as "old school" machinists all considered hand sharpening twist drills accurately for differing tasks to be a necessary basic skill. I would have thought that the author would have found the subject much more interesting.

The book pretty much deals with all the other other improtant cutting tools used in today's power-tool driven carbide-cutter shops the same way. i.e. Send them out to a pro sharpening shop to get best results. But I already knew that before I bought this book.

I'll keep the book because I DO find it interesting, and I can learn some nifty old-school tricks from it, but it has very limited value to me in my modern shop.

Peter
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2002
Leonard Lee takes an open-minded, scientific look at a subject that many woodworkers treat as voodoo. Lee presents photographs that detail the differences between "razor sharp" and truly hair-splitting sharp. He explains techniques for getting the keenest edge possible on chisels, saws, plane blades, scrapers, and a variety of other edges tools. He takes the time to explain edge geometry and how it will affect the steel based on some simple metallurgy. He also explains how different woods and types of cuts require different geometries.
This book has become one of my basic reference manuals in the shop.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
Prior to reading Mr. Lee's book my approach to sharpening was to fire up the grinding wheel and make some sparks fly from the tool's cutting edge. The results were less than satisfactory. I needed a mentor.

Lee covers the important foundations of sharpening: metallurgy, abrasives, physics of severing wood fibers, sharpening equipment and specific sharpening techniques for a multitude of tools. The writing style and arrangement of the contents make this book both a handy quick reference and an enjoyable cover-to-cover read.

Those persons who classify themselves as having beginning or intermediate sharpening skills will obtain the most benefit from this book. Those persons whose skills exceed the intermediate level should consider looking elsewhere for sharpening tips and techniques.

After applying some of Lee's recommendations on my chisels and planes I find that they are much sharper to begin with and stay sharp much longer. It's amazing what a few degrees of microbevel can do for a chisel! The kitchen knife drawer has also benefitted from The Complete Guide to Sharpening.

For less than twenty bucks you can't go wrong with this book. Thanks to Lee I actually find sharpening to be an enjoyable task unto itself and one that doesn't demand a lot of time or effort.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 1997
Having read over a dozen books on this topic, this is the best book on how to sharpen every tool in your shop. Lee includes a good review of the different kinds of sharpening stones and alternate methods such as using sanding papers. There are many illustrations to help explain the text and special jigs you might need to perform a job. I am particularly interested in hand planes. The chapter on them includes information on blade angles and how to true and flatten the sole plate that is integral to getting good results after you sharpen the blaade. This is an example of how complete the information is in this book
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
I checked this book out from my local library, and read it cover to cover. It is so full of practical and useful information, I think I will have to purchase it to add to my library.
Lee covers theory, research about metallurgy and how wood reacts to sharp edges, with very practical applications of this theory and research. His writing style is very clear and understandable, and his knowledge base is clearly built upon a lifetime of woodworking experience. He points out that, no matter how much you spend for fancy stones, wheels and jigs, and top end tools, you will not get a sharp edge and satisfying result without a basic understanding of wood, metals and abrasives.
The book is nicely illustrated with clear photos and beautiful electron micrographs and very well edited. Essentially all hand woodworking and power tools are covered. It also includes appendices covering research results of how wood reacts to cutting edges and useful reference tables about abrasives.
This is one of those uncommon books that brings together science, art, and craftsmanship is a very pleasant-reading text worth keeping for reference.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2006
Leonard Lee's "The Complete Guide to Sharpening" is a wonderful (make that essential) addition to the home or shop library. A writer once told me that a really good title should only fit one book, and this one certainly does. After reading the table of contents I was awakened to the idea that almost every tool needs something sharpened, reshaped, or polished to perform its tasks the best. How about sidecut pliers, tweezers, various drill and router bits? They're covered in this book. I appreciate the photographs and illustrations of various cutting edges under extremely high magnification. The whole "a picture is worth a thousand words" cliche takes on serious meaning in this book. Some prospective buyers may look at the sheer scope of this work and think it's overkill -- too comprehensive for most hobbyists. I strongly disagree. This work should be read, followed, and kept for future reference. I would not have thought of sharpening my pruning shears, hedge trimmers or other tools had I not purchased this book. I find it well-written, comprehensive in scope, founded in facts, and easy to follow. I consider this book the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation on sharpening. Buy it and use it.
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