Hi Ed and John,
I agree with everything you wrote. I think Paul used the #78 rebate as a scrub partly due to its heft in his hand but I’m not sure…
As far as buying better lumber, I totally agree Ed. Or use a massive power jointer and planer. Then turn off all the machines, do a little perfecting and smoothing with hand planes and do the joinery however you like. 🙂
On sharpening, honing guides and digging into stones when going freehand: I use Lie-Nielsen with different jaw attachments so I can do mortise chisels, etc. I also have a cheap record pattern honing guide from years ago. Its annoying compared to the LN. The Veritas honing guide looks nice and versatile but also complicated / slower to use but as I’ve never used one I can’t really say. I work free hand for a lot of my specialty blades. I have the Tormek and some DMT diamond plates and credit cards for this and other items… However, the Lie-Nielsen guide does the bulk of my regular chisel and plane bade sharpening simply and efficiently. Matt Estlea’s cambering method works with the plane blade clamped in the honing guide, that’s how I do it as well. Mileage may vary on exact count of strokes, etc…
As far as “digging in” freehand on diamond / versus Shapton synthetic / versus true Japanese water stones, Diamond stones don’t cause digging in, Shapton, I think not much, water stones do, particularly going up into the higher grits. I use pull stroke only on higher grits such as 4,000 grit and up when doing secondary bevel on a plane blade in the honing guide. The Tormek leather wheel with their honing compound always seems to put a keener polished edge when used. I think it cleans residual junk off a sharpened edge as it polishes. But I’m cautious with it if I don’t want a rounded edge particularly with chisel backs. I generally want RC 60-62 chisels that are precision machined on all surfaces from the maker. That tends toward Veritas PMV-11 chisels and Lie-Nielsen A2 Steel chisels. I do have some Japanese chisels and saws but I made the decision at some point to work on mastering all the cutting tools of traditional woodworking like Paul Sellers, basically European and pre-industrial American. I went this route because I found the sharpening of these tools , particularly the saws, more within reach and I kind of wanted to learn a whole system of tools that I could understand and maybe master. I also found that Japanese joinery sometimes works with different wood than what I use in North America. This complicates the question of whether different Japanese tools are really meant for what I do. I think I kind of have this respect that Japanese joinery and the tools that go with it are a highly sophisticated integral system that won’t necessarily work if I pull a few tools from their toolbox and use them in my Western shop. But many other woodworkers’ experiences don’t prove this entirely true. And, Western tool makers and woodworkers teach sharpening on Japanese water stones all the time. So they have become an integral part of Western traditional woodworking.
Its interesting how there are different approaches to sharpening that will get you very sharp. Master woodworkers like Rob Cosman and Paul Sellers all seem to emphasize the speed and simplicity of their sharpening so they don’t waste time. I like that. If you can get scary sharp, wicked fast, you’re doing something right!
I’ve thought for several years now that truly the basis or foundation for everything in my shop is in fact, my DMT truing plate. Because from the flatness of that surface comes all other precision. That, and the hunk of granite, sized and machined for flattening plane soles. Without this foundation for the tools, nothing else would proceed well. With a true foundation, all else may proceed.