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Sharpen the saw. Or sword.


Time spent sharpening is never wasted.

A couple of weeks ago I helped a friend to lay a nice oak wooden floor. This entailed lots of standing up and bending over, and I'm delighted to say that I felt it in my legs the next day, but not in my back at all. Ergonomics for the win! We did have a chop saw available (a kind of power saw, very fast, very noisy, very dangerous), but I had brought along a beautiful old handsaw. I bought the saw about 20 years ago in a car boot sale for, I think, 50p. Once it was sharpened up, oh my. It might look old and black, but it cuts like a dream, and we laid two floors using only that for cutting the planks.

It gets blunt after an hour or so of slicing through solid oak, so every now and then we'd stop for a couple of minutes, and I'd sharpen it. The title of this post is NOT A METAPHOR!

Or rather, not just a metaphor. Time spent sharpening is never wasted. If I have a lot of conflicting demands on my time, and need to sort through a lot of priorities, I'm more likely to spend 20 minutes meditating first to clear the clutter. Then a job that might haven taken two hours of frustration gets done in half an hour.

If I am piling through a difficult bit of editing and it's all going really well, I'm more likely to stop every hour or so and do some pull-ups.

There are a few different ways to sharpen a handsaw, but there are hundreds of options for sharpening your virtual, metaphorical, saw. My top sharpening techniques are: 1) meditation. 2) exercise. 3) get out and do something completely different.

Any decent craftsman will keep their tools sharp with regular maintenance (touching up an edge), and the occasional intervention (completely re-shaping an edge). It's the maintenance that really makes the difference though.

I'm sure you have an opinion: do share!

One Response

  1. Oh yes! It’s all too easy just to keep sawing away with a tool (mind) that has become totally blunt. Just as it’s easier to keep digging in the wrong place, than to start a new hole in the right place, sadly it feels “easier” to keep going, ineffectually, than to step away for a moment and make things more effective.

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