Okay...the last thing the woodworking world needs is another article on sharpening. Jig vs no jig, water stone vs oil stone vs abrasive paper, power vs hand....yikes! For the record, I use a wheel grinder and Japanese water stones to sharpen most things in my shop. I use a honing guide except for when I don't and I use a belt grinder for doing knives. Enough about that...I want to talk about my bucket.
I was watching this video awhile back of a dude sharpening his Japanese irons and was interested in the bucket he had. There is nothing special about the bucket but I was interested in the role it played in his sharpening routine. I don't have a sink in my shop so using water stones was a bit of a pain. I stored them in a small Tupperware-like container and would carefully pull them out so I didn't get water everywhere. Then I would gently spritz them with a spray bottle, again being careful to not get the surrounding area wet. When it came to flattening the stones, I would have to head to the kitchen sink and hope that I didn't get caught befouling the kitchen with my dirty stones.
So off to the hardware store to get a 5 gal bucket. I filled it up and dropped the stones in leaning them against the side. Instead of putting the stones on a separate surface, I made a stone bridge from a red oak cut-off that spans the mouth of the bucket. I didn't bother to put finish on the bridge...it took about 10 minutes to make so I figure I'll make a new one in 10 years when this one had had the biscuit. Once the stone is on the bridge I can simply dip my hand in the water and scoop up a handful of stone lube without worrying about getting water everywhere. Any extra water lands back in the bucket. I keep an old towel clamped to the bucket to I can easily dry the blade to inspect my work and to dry my hands. I keep a separate rag soaked in Moovit oil to coat the blade to prevent rust. I know that link looks like a shameless plug but that's where I get it from. I'm sure if you search it out you will find other sellers.
I always try to make sharpening as easy as possible. Like a lot of people, I'm lazy and if sharpening is laborious and a pain I will put off doing it. Putting off sharpening is a good way to create tear-out and could lead to a 'design change'. So give the bucket a try. At most you're out a bucket and a bit of time.
Sorry about the photo quality. I was using my phone. (tsk..tsk..tsk)
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