The frightening entrance to the awesome place I went today.
Today was just an excellent day at the bindery. I felt a solid sense of accomplishment, like if I were magically transported back to the family dinner table of my childhood and my mom asked me "What did you learn today, dear?" I could say "I learned how to sharpen a paring knife! And how to get to the Tools for Woodworking shop which is in the middle of the most barren, desolate part of Brooklyn that it still has cobblestones and probably tumbleweeds but it was raining and I'd assume that tumbleweeds are hindered by puddles. But also, this knife! It is so sharp!"
The shop, actually called Tools for Working Wood, is a spooky and kind of magical, and is staffed by kindly and flannel-wearing men who have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of basically everything in there. I'm starting to do some leather work with my books and the boss and I have been working on turning a semi-busted, rough-edged slab of metal into a finely honed instrument. It was taking way longer than was practical or sane, so the boss sent me down to pick up some things and to see if I could pick up any insider info. And I did! They assured me that the fastest way to get a paring knife super-sharp - instead of using a series of blocks that can wear down and get warped and may not give you a straight edge on your blade - is to use a series of adhesive sandpaper adhered to a flat surface, and to use it with sharpening stone oil. I was tempted to keep this a secret. I need at least one magic trick, right? But it's just TOO EXCITING! I had been working on a dang sharpening stone until my hands were bleeding in a dozen places, and not only did the Pressure Sensitive Adhesive work quickly and easily, I endured not a single injury.
The guys at the store assured me that this is a method advocated by Jeff Peachy, who I am quickly learning is basically a legend in the book world. He's a conservator who is known for the conservation tools he invents, manufactures and repairs, but now I know him as the tool-sharpening god and also a man who runs an awesome blog. So interesting! I've been swimming through it all night - totally worth a look.