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Should it be Sharp Out of the Box?

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Droogs

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On a recent constitutional around the internet, i found a rather interesting article about new tools and whether they should be ready to go, nice and sharp straight out of the box. I was wondering about members thoughts on this, is it worth paying a premium to LV or Tomm Lee for such or not? alink to the article is below:



 

AndyT

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I think that yet again, Joel has written a well evidenced, thoughtful article.

Buying edge tools is like buying pencils.
 

Daniel2

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It's always a good debate :)
Personally, I believe it to be somewhat of a moot point. The need for resharpening
comes around so quickly, that it remains to be a skill & discipline prerequisite to
good woodworking.
It's always nice, however, to receive a new tool that one can "have a play with"
immediately upon receipt. But, the level of sharp, in my opinion, is no more than a
token gesture. I'm thinking planes and chisels here, of course.
An LN or Flinn saw comes sharp and ready to go to work.
So, perhaps it depends upon which tools we're talking about.
My tuppence worth....

ATB,
Daniel
 

Just4Fun

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... is it worth paying a premium ... for such or not?
Since I have never done so I have to say NO.

One thought though: if a tool arrived properly sharp I would at least know the level of sharpness I should be aiming at when I re-sharpen it. As it is I always think I sharpen my tools well, but is it really sharp enough? Considering how my sharpening has improved over the years, there must have been a time when I was satisfied with blades that really were not up to the mark, and new tools arriving ready-to-go would at least have made me realise that. (Nowadays of course my tools are as sharp as anyones ... or are they?)
 

D_W

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They"re never sharp, but some are well prepared. The LV tools are lapped, but the V11 steel needs more work on the back to get out some pocking due to the lapping (I haven't gotten anything else from LV in a while).

At one point, LN was directly off the grinder, but the last LN tool that I got had some hand PSA abrasive work to do most of the prep.

But prepared is one thing, sharp is another. I've not seen a sharp robust edge that lasts on a chisel or plane iron.
 

MikeG.

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Given the huge numbers of unused Stanleys, Records and so on sitting idle around the world, the only reason that I can see for a user (as opposed to a collector) to buy a new tool rather than a second hand one is because it requires no work to get working. I imagine, therefore, that this is the reason that the premium tool makers started offering their "use it straight from the box" tools. This offers no advantage to anyone who knows what they are doing , other than an hour or two of useage before they have to sharpen. I love AndyT's pencil analogy.
 

MikeK

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Buying edge tools is like buying pencils.
Depends on where you buy the pencils. 😁

Earlier this year I bought a 10-pack of #2 Dixon Ticonderoga wooden pencils and didn't realize until a few weeks later that they were already sharpened. Ready to use out of the box.
 

AndyT

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Depends on where you buy the pencils. 😁

Earlier this year I bought a 10-pack of #2 Dixon Ticonderoga wooden pencils and didn't realize until a few weeks later that they were already sharpened. Ready to use out of the box.
Yes, but only for the first use.
A few minutes later and you'd need to make your own point, which naturally you can choose to do using a machine (mechanical sharpener) or a hand powered equivalent or freehand with abrasives or a knife. You can make whatever style of point suits you, regardless of what the maker provided.

The factory point/edge is a one time convenience of no long term use.
 

Droogs

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It is interesting to see peoples view on this, I'm in agreement with AndyT. But if I could interject, does this apply in all cases or just to edge tools? should we be given a blank piece of spring steel if we buy a say from Mr Sketlton for instance or are we infact paying the extra not just for a quality product but also the fact he has taken the effort away to give us a nice sharp usable out of the box saw? After all in the article it was pointed out that saws may have come with teeth but were not expected to be sharp or set.
 

MikeG.

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There is quite a difference between sharpening existing teeth and starting again with a blank plate, cutting your own. Actually just cutting the teeth in the first place sharpens them, so I would expect that a saw would be sharp when new. Whether it is set or not is a different question.
 

D_W

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Given the huge numbers of unused Stanleys, Records and so on sitting idle around the world, the only reason that I can see for a user (as opposed to a collector) to buy a new tool rather than a second hand one is because it requires no work to get working. I imagine, therefore, that this is the reason that the premium tool makers started offering their "use it straight from the box" tools. This offers no advantage to anyone who knows what they are doing , other than an hour or two of useage before they have to sharpen. I love AndyT's pencil analogy.
There has been some nonsense in the past from blogger gurus convincing beginners (keeping in mind that in the US, many beginners are white collar folks just searching for something to do by hand - as in, they have a cushion of means and want to be guaranteed success)...

...at any rate, convincing beginners that using old tools is "false economy". Of course, that's nonsense, but it's the kind of think you'd see from boutique bloggers.


If Chris knew how to actually use the planes, he probably wouldn't think the LN were better to use. I like LN, I like LV, but using them in heavy (actual) work is not a preference of mine.

There's another post somewhere decrying the false economy of fixing up flea market chisels vs. buying the strange choice A2 LN bench chisels.

The loudest opinions about these things are going to be the folks selling classes because they want to sell classes and not explain anything else to students. The follow up "what's good for you as a beginner may not be best for you when you're experienced" is never said.
 

D_W

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There is quite a difference between sharpening existing teeth and starting again with a blank plate, cutting your own. Actually just cutting the teeth in the first place sharpens them, so I would expect that a saw would be sharp when new. Whether it is set or not is a different question.
Agree on the saws if they are sold in a cost range that implies beginners will be buying. E.g., it's probably reasonable to believe that a $150 dovetail saw will be bought by someone who's expertise is typing and writing macros. I haven't met many long-term woodworkers who think that the dovetail saw is the major hold up in their shop.

When saws get down into the $70 range like some of the lynx saws, it's probably reasonable to assume they'll be machine cut and set and if any hand work is done to those (the carpenter saws especially), they're not going to be technically perfect or ideal.
 

AndyT

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Having read this thread, a video showed up in my YouTube subscriptions. It's from Rex Krueger who I reckon talks a lot of sense about hand tools.

One of his viewers bought a plane from Lie Nielsen but couldn't get it to work "straight out of the box" even though LN try hard to make that possible. It turns out that there's a level of detailed understanding that any more experienced woodworker will have, which he didn't have. Nothing wrong with the plane at all.


I think the video gives an interesting perspective on how difficult it is for a toolmaker to please all their customers.
 

D_W

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This came up for me, too. If you tell a beginner they're being unreasonable, they think about the fact that the plane is $350. They think nothing about trying to make the same kind of plane in the western world with compliance, costs, benefits, support, etc.

They'll also think you're being a stodgy old jerk for telling them they may have a skill to acquire.

Years ago when I started to make double iron planes, it occurred to me that I could probably find buyers for them and make about $30 an hour for my time. IT also occurred to me that the buyers would be people I wouldn't want to talk to on the phone or email as they'd feel that I was obligated to help them when:
* they couldn't set depth
* the plane iron moved over the years and a little bit of relief may be needed laterally, just filed, etc (I need to ship it back to you and you need to ship it to me at your cost!)
* they found out the iron was not A2 or V11 and didn't understand why, etc

The skill set leads LN to do things like put a hard to hand grind iron in a plane and then tell the buyers not to use power grinders on it (perhaps with the exception of a tormek - a boat anchor in my opinion).

Assuming problems in life are due to someone else first and then asking the question of whether or not they're you as the user, purchaser, whatever the project may be - a very expensive way to live, if not in terms of the cost to purchase things to your standard, in the experience in using them.

(I've always had to ship planes fully sharp and set, too - but I've either given most away or sold them at cost of materials to professional woodworkers who would actually use them. If you couldn't sharpen and use them initially, who would know if they would feed perfectly? I can imagine the next white collar buyer complaining that he received a used plane).
 

thetyreman

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it's all common sense stuff, never expect the blade to be sharp, I have found my LN chisel was close to perfection though, it needed only a tiny amount of work lapping the back, we're talking less than 10 seconds and it was ready, that is what you're paying for, and that doesn't mean I'm against old chisels or steel, far from it.
 

Bm101

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*Nearly 9 hours*
About 8 hours longer than I thought the Phil P comment would take to appear.

The whole thing is mad. It's applying the proper emperors new clothes fantasy to the beginner (and I say that as a complete noob but one 4 odd years in) that you can't buy a solution other than engineering standards/ tool steel quality. Few hours practical use on wood and the greatest presharpened steel in history will be blunt as a drunk windowcleaner.
It's a myth created by modern tool sellers to sell to willing candidates with cash spare and not enough experience to know they will need to sharpen tools.
It's mental.
You can dispute the benefits of A or O or even PM graded steels till the cows come home. If you can't make it sharp and keep it sharp it's just a weight around your neck and no use to anyone except opening paintcans.
When I bought the sorby off here I had a steady trail of male relatives turn up with chisels blunter than the actual truth.
They went away with sharp tools and 'strict instructions'. Within a couple of weeks nearly all had suffered a deep 'disturbing level' cut to their hand.

Mrs told me. I laughed a little bit tbh. Quietly mind. (My side of the family is handy. 🤭)
 
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