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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hand Smythed Saws

Every week I get emails from far eastern circular saw manufacturers asking if we are interested in selling their saws. Every time the answer is the same - Thank you but we are very happy with our current supplier.

The reason for this is that there are only a handful of manufacturers left in the world who still smith and tension their blades by hand, and the product is inherently superior. Of those few companies, only one has a fully comprehensive range and the facility to manufacture special orders for us. They are based in Sheffield, so the industrial quality sawblades can periodically be sent back to the factory, re-sharpened on the machines that made them and have their tension and balance checked by one of the smiths that made them. These are not throwaway consumable items, they are proper tools, built to last.

When a circular saw blade is stationary there is no way that an untrained eye would be able to tell a hand smythed saw from any other, the difference is hidden within the metal of the sawplate.

If you imagine a circular saw in use, the perimiter is being heated by the friction of cutting the wood whilst the rest of the plate is being cooled by airflow. If you use just any old piece of steel, the opposing forces of expansion and contraction distort the saw plate and turn into the shape of a pringle. As soon as it cools down, it will return to flat.

With a hand smithed blade, the effects of the working loads are balanced by the tension in the sawplate. The only difference between working and stationary is a tiny increase in the diameter.

The process of making a handmade circular saw begins with the heat treatment, best hot rolled plate steel that has been laser cut to shape is annealed and then heated and quenched in a special press. This process makes the crystalline structure of the steel form correctly - so that the blade naturally wants to be flat. It is then tempered back to the correct hardness under the weight of a full sized millstone.

The heat treated saws make their first of three visits to the smithing shop, where a time served (5yrs+) saw smith tensions the blade using a selection of hammers and a special straightedge. Until recently the craft of sawsmithing was a closely guarded secret, the only people who ever saw the work being done were either qualified smiths or apprentices.

The processes of grinding the saw to thickness, brazing on the massive carbide tips and then shaping and sharpening them are all done by state of the art computer controlled machines to an accuracy of 1/100th of a mm.

Each saw goes back through the sawsmiths shop after brazing, so that the tension of the plate can be checked and adjusted if necessary. If you see any small hammer marks on the surface of a blade they will either have been made at this stage or the final check before the blades are passed as finished.

With a reasonable quality woodworking machine and the correct blade selected for the job, the stability and accuracy of a hand smythed industrial circular saw blade are unsurpassed.

If you would like to experience a proper hand smythed blade on your saw, they are available in sizes from 80mm to 915mm, with toothing patterns to suit all applications and centre holes bored or bushed to order.  

Workshop Heaven discount code AWWH25 will save you 25% on all industrial quality resharpenable saws, the same code can also be used for high quality, non-resharpenable, single life pro-trade blades.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

5 Tips For Perfect Christmas Presents

Five years ago my wife gave me a beautiful smoothing plane for Christmas. At the time I already had a smoother, but it had no sentimental significance and I had no qualms whatsoever about selling it to make room for my beautiful new one. That handplane is the one that I use to put the final surface on a piece of timber, to create the surfaces by which my skill and craftsmanship will be judged. It is one of my favourite possessions and five years on I still think about her every time I pick it up.

The economist in me has been trying to work out what it was that made that particular gift as memorable and special as the brand new BMX bike that my parents gave me when I was six. The results of that thought process have been distilled into the following five tips for successful Christmas gift shopping:

Tip One
The best gifts are things that the recipient will use, treasure and adore; whatever the item may be, it should always be of excellent quality.

Tip Two
Make a list or, even better, a pinterest board, of things that you would like to receive as gifts. This is especially important with woodworking tools, as quite often the person buying it for you doesn't have the first clue what they are looking at.

Tip Three
Don't be afraid to ask for expensive things, relatives often prefer to club together and buy you one really awesome present instead of each getting you something smaller.

Tip Four
When shopping for others, separate the processes of deciding what the present will be and purchasing it. (bang goes my nomination for predatory retailer of the year)

Tip Five
Give yourself plenty of time; driving past a crammed supermarket on Christmas eve when your presents are all safely wrapped up is pure schadenfreude!

Monday, 25 November 2013

How do you sharpen a gooseneck scraper?

Cabinet scrapers are unbeatable for light shaping and cleaning up surfaces, they are oblivious of grain direction, produce no tearout and leave a clean, almost polished surface that maximises the appearance of the timber. As well as coves, hollows, chair seats and the insides of violin backs, gooseneck scrapers are great for accurate spot work where the surrounding flat surface must be left untouched. The eccentric shape of the gooseneck scraper covers all internal radii between 12mm and 220mm.

The key to preparing gooseneck scrapers is to only sharpen the portion of the edge that you need. The procedure is similar to that for a rectangular scraper, but in this case you are better off holding the scraper in a vice and carefully draw filing the edge square with a fine file or slipstones rather than using bench stones. Draw and turn the hook with a carbide burnisher as normal, and you're all set!

Leaning the scraper into the cut will flatten the effective radius slightly (from the wood's perspective) reducing the forward lean, or skewing it very slightly to the direction of cut, will tighten the effective radius, between these two you can 'steer' pretty close to a pre-existing surface. You don't need to match it exactly but the aim is to get close enough to have nice broad shavings that blend together easily.

If you haven't sharpened a scraper before, our sharpening cabinet scrapers video will take you through the process.

All  of our scrapers are made by ARNO, if you have never heard of ARNO before, here's an independent review of the ARNO carbide burnisher.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Saw Handle Competition Winner

It was a very close run thing, but after much deliberation, Marc has decided to award the prize to Richard from Hampshire for his elegantly proportioned and carefully executed dovetail saw handle in cherry.

Although the judging was strictly about the designing and making of the handle, there is also a nice back story to this particular tool. 

The saw belonged to Richard's father and his father before that. It had lost its back and was, in all honesty, pretty well done for. As well as the handle Richard made a new brass back from scratch using an old door push plate. The saw blade has been inverted so that the old teeth are now hidden inside the spine and fresh teeth can be filed into what was the top. Hopefully it will now go on to serve another couple of generations. 

My thanks to all who took part in the competition, and to Marc for providing such a wonderful prize.

Congratulations Richard, we look forward to hearing how you get on at Robinson House Studio.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Know Your Quangsheng Plane Iron Types

Quangsheng are the only volume iron handplane manufacturer to use water hardening carbon steel for their cutting irons. Water hardening steels are usually associated with tools from Japan, they are purer than the oil or air hardening varieties. From a metalworking perspective T10 steel is less predictable to work with than O1 for example, but it can be tempered harder without losing it's toughness and it takes a supremely fine edge.

Block Plane Irons

Over time the designs of QS block plane adjustment mechanisms have evolved, this post is designed as a reference so that you can select the appropriate replacement cutting iron for your plane.

Quangsheng Type 1 Block Plane Iron (2010 and earlier)

With a single slot through the top that engages an adjusting nut on a fixed threaded rod in the back of the plane body. The slot is 4mm wide, 14mm long and goes right the way through the blade. Also fits Lie-Nielsen block planes.

Quangsheng Type 2 Block Plane Iron (2011 - 2013)

With 10 machined grooves that engage two lugs on the top of a carriage in the body of the plane.  Each groove is 2.6mm wide, 17.5mm long, 1.7mm deep at the centre and they have 1mm lands between them. The total length of the grooved area is 35mm. Also works as a replacement iron for Stanley No.60, No.60-1/2, 61, 103 and Record 0230 block planes

Quangsheng Type 3 Block Plane Iron (2013 onwards)

Also with 10 machined grooves, but finer than a type 2.  Each groove is 2mm wide, 17.5mm long, 1.7mm deep at the centre and they have 1.1mm lands between them. The total length of the grooved area is 30mm.

The standard angle and low angle block plane irons are 35mm (1-3/8") wide and approximately 3mm (1/8") thick. The 11mm x 32mm oval slot in the centre is the same size for all types

Primary Bevel Angles

At the time of going to press, all three types of block plane iron are available with 25, 38 or 50 degree bevels so that the pitch of the plane can be altered by simply switching the blades. Cutting irons with the same combination of bevel angles are also available for the bevel up Quangsheng 62 low angle jack plane.

Rebating block plane irons

Quangsheng rebating block plane irons come in the same three types but are only available with a 25 degree bevel. The cutting edge of the rebating versions are just a hair over 44mm wide (1-3/4") and the neck is 31mm wide.

Bench Plane Irons

Quangsheng replacement plane irons are available in standard widths, all are 3mm (1/8") thick. 

1-3/4" wide for No.3 bench planes
2" wide for No.4 and No.5 bench planes
2-3/8" wide for No.4-1/2, 5-1/2, 6 and 7 bench planes

Fitting Quangsheng irons to other makes of bench plane

The majority of older bench planes and all of the better quality new ones will take a 3mm thick iron with no problems. Depending on the vintage and manufacturer, some of the old ones may need the Y lever replacing in order to reach through the thicker iron. 

Installing a thick, soft, closely fitted, vibration absorbing low-profile cap iron is another way of enhancing a plane's performance. If Bailey pattern planes have an Achilles heel, the pressed steel chipbreaker is it.

We have seen a few examples of more recently manufactured 'affordable planes' that no longer conform to the standard dimensions, for these 'upgrade resistant' models, a good quality thin plane iron may be the only option available.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Kreg Planing Stop

Got a thin piece of timber to plane up?

Grab your Kreg square cut, pop it in the vice and simply butt the timber up against it.

Got an even thinner piece?

Lay your workshop leather under the board (doubled over if necessary) so that your plane still clears the stop.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Workshop Heaven Saw Handle Making Competition

Make a saw handle - and you could win a £600 bespoke training course at one of the worlds finest furniture making studios!

The Prize

A 1 week bespoke cabinetmaking training course at Robinson House Studios with award winning designer maker Marc Fish. You choose which particular aspect of furniture making you would like to focus on, sharpening, drawing, hand planing, laminating, dovetails, mortice and tenon joinery, etc, and Marc will tailor the training to suit you.

Marc may only make a handful of pieces a year, but each one is so exceptional and so different that the whole industry takes note.  As well as exquisite furniture, the studio also produces some of the most promising faces of the next generation of designer-makers, including names you may recognise like Chris Funnel and Rhys Gillard.

How to enter

It couldn't be easier, just send an email to listing:

1. your name,
2. The county (Hampshire / Cornwall etc) where you live
3. Your phone number

and we will send you a discount code giving you 15% off Continental hand stitched rasps, Atkinson Walker handsaw kits and African striped ebony saw handle blanks within the next working day.

Once you have assembled all of the materials that you are going to use, send a photo of them (800 to 1000 pixels wide if possible) to the same email address. Send another photo of what it looks like halfway through, and then a third photo of the finished handle attached to the saw.

All photos must be received by November 5th 2013 - remember, remember!

The winning entry will be chosen by Marc and announced on November 15th.

The Small Print:

No purchase necessary, if you want to rehandle a saw that you already have - go for it. The sycamore for the handle in the photo above came from the firewood pile. This is purely a skills competition and entries will be judged on that basis alone.

The prize includes your training at Robinson House Studio in Newhaven, Sussex. It does not include meals, accommodation or travel to and from. However if you need recommendations for places to stay, Marc will be happy to oblige. The course will take place on mutually convenient dates to be agreed between Marc and the winner.

Workshop Heaven and Robinson House Studio reserve the right to use any submitted photos for marketing or other purposes. We may also add you to our email newsletter lists, don't worry, we are quite civilised and don't bombard you with 'deal of the day' (we hate that as much as you do) you will be invited to accept or decline and can unsubscribe at any time.

Where entrants are referred to in accreditation or announcements it will be in the form 'Dave from Bedfordshire' or 'Dave R from Bedfordshire' (if we get two Daves from Bedfordshire). If we get two Dave R's from Bedfordshire we might have to call one of them David.

If things don't go quite right with your handle and you want to start afresh, please feel free to do so. We're woodworkers too and we've all been there. Just email a photo of your new materials and carry on as before.

Entry is open to all Woodworkers aged 16 and over. If you live outside the UK please be aware that if you win first prize you will need to get there under your own steam.

No cash alternatives.

Entries can be handles for any hand saw (handsaw, dovetail saw, tenon saw etc) if you really want to do a gents saw handle - feel free, but please remember it is a competition to demonstrate your skill level.

Useful saw handle making links:

Tenon saw kits
Dovetail saw kits
Free saw handle templates
Free step by step instructions
Free saw sharpening instructions
Hand stitched rasps
Saw sharpening files
Bormax Forstner bits
Precision HSS lip and spur drills

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Adam Savage Loves Knew Concepts Saws

Go on, you know you want to:

How to select the right blades for your Knew Concepts saw:

Just like bandsaws and tablesaws, your jewelers fretsaw frame changes personality depending upon the type of blade you have installed. With the right blade you will get fast, smooth easy sawing and a clean finish.

Knew Concepts recommend Pegas Swiss-made sawblades, so at Workshop Heaven we decided to stock the entire Pegas range in packs of 12 blades - so you can get your saw and the blades in one transaction. The more popular flavours are now also available in packs of 144 blades. The Pegas range of 5" unpinned blades is huge, so here's a few pointers to help you select the appropriate blade for the job.

Choosing the right tooth pattern

These have plenty of gullet space to clear the waste and a patch of reversed teeth at the end of the blade, which gives you an entry quality cut on both faces. There are only four sizes and a pack of each will cover the normal range of material thicknesses used in furniture making.

Fine blades with a regular tooth pattern to give a smooth cut and a beautiful finish. Always get blades with a rounded back as they are easier to turn and less prone to breakage.

The blade is twisted into a helix so it can cut in any direction. Tricky to hold a straight line, but much easier for following curved ones. Because you don't need to orientate the frame to the work you can still cut in any direction when working close to the full depth of the frame.

Softer materials produce swarf more rapidly than hard ones, skip tooth blades have gaps between the teeth to carry the extra material away without clogging the saw.

Double skip and modified geometry blades have even bigger gaps, and so require a higher reciprocation speed. Although they are wonderful in powered scroll saws, these two types are not really appropriate for use in 
Knew Concepts hand frames.

Choosing the right pitch (number of teeth per inch)

A good rule of thumb is to have between three and twelve teeth engaged in the material at any given moment, with optimum performance at 7 or 8 teeth. 

For example if you are cutting 1/8" (3mm) thick material you would want to be around the 20 to 23 teeth per inch mark. For harder materials like steel, go a little finer; for soft materials like wood and plastics a little coarser.

Blades for Knew Concepts Coping Saws

Chunkier frame = chunkier blades.

Knew Concepts coping saws use 6.5" pinned coping saw blades, these are larger and have a transverse pin running through the blade at either end to transfer the tension from the frame to the blade. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, we are always happy to help.

Happy sawing...!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Toothed Plane Irons

Toothed plane iron on burr oak
No tearout - none - zip - zilch - nada - zero!

Not even on this lovely piece of dry English burr oak. Go ahead, click on the photo to take a closer look.

How do toothed irons work?
Because the shavings produced are discontinuous, the forces involved in cutting any individual one are proportionally much smaller. They are also much weaker than a full width shaving and break more readily.

What about the lines?
Clearly you still need a well set up smoothing plane or a scraper to bring the board to a finish-ready surface, but the toothed blade will get you through the processes of removing any twist, wind or cupping and bringing the board to dimension, all at full speed and without a second thought for tearout.

Sharpening toothed plane irons is, if anything, easier than sharpening standard ones. Just a flat bevel at 25 degrees and a quick wipe on a leather to remove any burr - job done.

It's the complete opposite of a smoothing plane, you want a wide mouth and the chipbreaker set well back from the cutting edge.

Why not use a back bevelled iron or scraper plane for the whole job?
Back bevelled irons and scapers will both help enormously with tearout prone timber, but the steeper the angle, the harder they are to push. A toothed iron cuts at the same angle as a standard blade, so you can whizz through beautiful gnarly burred timber with no more effort than you would need for straight grained wood.

OK I'm convinced, where can I buy them?

Thursday, 30 May 2013


First laid down in 1759, HMS Victory is the last remaining ship of the line and by the slender margin of 30 years, she is also the oldest commissioned warship in the world. 

Although she served in several other campaigns, Victory is best known for her role as Nelson's flagship at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Rather than drawing alongside the combined navies of France and Spain in the traditional manner, Nelson attacked perpendicular to the line. This meant that the British fleet, and Victory in particular, would have to endure being 'raked' on the run in. Cannonballs flying along the length of the decks are much more dangerous than ones going across, and the fact that Victory's fore top sail alone had 90 holes in it at the end of the battle gives some idea of the ferocity of the bombardment. The payoff though, was that every single British gunner would each be offered the chance to return the compliment and rake an enemy vessel at point blank range as they passed through the line.

Buried deep in the bows of the ship is the surprisingly roomy workshop of the ship's carpenter. It is at this point that the sudden realisation hits you - they built and maintained these things entirely with hand tools

Six thousand oak trees in this one vessel alone, and every single one of them cut down, riven, sawn, shaped and fitted together by hand. This achievement is made all the more remarkable when you consider that Benjamin Huntsman was still in the process of developing the first high quality edge tool steel at the time.

One of the nice things about Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is that you don't feel like a tourist being herded through a process. You are free to explore the various ships and exhibits at will, visit the tea room for exceptional and very reasonably priced cakes if you want to, or wander into the gift shop of your own volition. 

As you would expect, the shop is choc full of pens, mugs, plates, keyrings and other 'souvenirs'. I have always thought on trips to museums and historical attractions, how wonderful it would be to able to take home a real artefact as a souvenir - something genuine!  Of course I have always dismissed the thought as pie in the sky, you can't possibly expect these places to sell genuine artefacts as souvenirs....can you?

Lo and behold, in the corner of the shop was a glass cabinet full of lumps of oak that had been removed from Victory during the current restoration work. They were being sold off with the proceeds going to help fund the restoration work. Apparently there are lots of people who wouldn't want to own a smelly old lump of wood and prefer a nice baseball hat or a t-shirt instead - I'm not one of them.

Here it is, complete with an iron nail, layers of whitewash and the smell of the sea! I'm inclined to keep it just as it is, but everyone keeps asking me what I am going to do with it? 

What would you do?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


We don't just sell hand tools, we enjoy using them too!

Here's a little 'behind the scenes' video showing how the new homepage image (above) was created.

My thanks to Helen Everett who has been helping us out with filming, production, editing, and has inspired me to make more videos in the near future. We wish Helen well on her travels to teach children in Cambodia this summer.

Beautiful tools, great prices, friendly service!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Honing a 2506 Shoulder Rebate Plane

Quangsheng 2506 shoulder rebate plane
Metal shoulder rebate planes have been with us, in one guise or another, since the 1860's when Edward Preston and Sons started it all off with the No.1369. Given that they have been around for so long I doubt if I am the first to figure this out, but when you come to the job of honing the blades it certainly makes life a whole lot easier, so I thought it was worth sharing.

A shoulder rebate plane is used for perfecting the final fit of existing rebates (rabbets / rabbits / whatever..) or indeed any other situation where you need to fine tune a surface with reference to an adjacent shoulder. They take the merest whisp of a shaving and their performance on endgrain is enhanced by the very low bedding angle and skewed blades. The blades are ground at 15 degrees which is great for softwoods but a little bit low for hardwoods.

This brings us to the problem of how on earth you hold these tiny skewed cutters to put a secondary bevel on them?

The answer: Take off the fence and removable nose of the plane, swap the cutters over and invert them, and the plane becomes it's own honing guide.

The angle can be adjusted by altering how far the blades protrude. Note the use of a slip of backing film to prevent the sole of the plane from being eroded. For increased edge strength you can also add a micro back bevel on the underside of the blades using the same technique, but with the blades the right way up.
Honing a 2506 rebate plane

I have no idea whether this was an intentional part of the design or not, but it works, and may go some way towards explaining why this classic design has remained almost unaltered for over a century.

Adjustable / reversible fence and removable toepiece
The Preston 2506 (upon which the design of this modern Quangsheng 2506 is based) was Preston's second design of a shoulder rebate plane, omitting the unworkably fiddly adjustment mechanism of the 1369 and adding a removable and reversible fence. Originally the fence was an option but was later included as standard on both the Preston 2506 and the later Record 2506. Setting the blade on a 2506 is simplicity itself, lay the sole flat on a scrap of timber, gently pressing the blade in with your fingertip, and then tighten the knob. The harder the wood you use to set it, the finer the shaving.

Setting the depth of cut on a 2506 rebate plane
Beautiful tools, great prices, friendly service!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Paring Chisels 101

A paring chisel is used for...

As the name suggests, a paring chisel is used for paring away small amounts of material to achieve precisely the surface that you want. A paring cut is parallel with the surface of the surrounding timber, whereas a chopping cut is perpendicular to it.

A classic example is slightly undercutting the endgrain surfaces that will form part of a joint. Undercutting a tenon shoulder for example leaves a small line around the outside edge that will 'make' with the adjacent component, the undercut guarantees that the joint will not be 'held open' by any irregularities or debris. Because endgrain is not a glue surface, the joint is no weaker, and if you do get a little bit of glue squeeze out from the tenon cheeks as the components are assembled, the undercut gives it somewhere to go that doesn't show on the finished piece.

Another traditional use for paring chisels is in conjunction with a saw. Slicing away an incline on the waste side of your knife line creates a shoulder for the saw to ride against, guiding it onto the line. One tip that I picked up from David Charlesworth (who I believe got it from Rob Cosman) is to start the saw on the top of the incline and allow it to drop naturally onto the shoulder as you make the first stroke. It's all very subtle stuff but it does seem to produce a noticeably better result than trying to start with the saw teeth in the bottom of the v groove.

Paring chisels are also excellent for shaping work, using facets in the same way that a stonemason would in order to monitor your progress. To create a cylinder from a square for example, you slice away the corners to make an even sided octagon, then keep cutting away the remaining crests keeping all of the facets straight and even as you sneak to within sanding distance of the final shape. For another example of paring using facets, see our "making a wedge for a Richard Kell No.3 honing guide" video.

Why do paring chisels have such a long blade...?

The primary reason for a paring chisel's length is not reach, but balance. Imagine walking upstairs, carrying a cup of tea, holding the saucer with both hands. Now repeat the exercise but with the cup and saucer on a tray - much more stable. The further apart your hands are, the more accurately your body can find and maintain horizontal. Indeed with Japanese paring chisels the blade length is not that much greater than a normal bench chisel, but the handle is much longer. One of the reasons I prefer the western design of paring chisel is that by having most of the length as blade rather than handle you get the additional reach and potentially longer blade life thrown in as a bonus, but these are really secondary benefits.

Why aren't all paring chisels cranked.....?

On first impression a cranked paring chisel looks like more versatile version of a straight one with the added advantage that it can go anywhere. In fact it is quite the opposite. Lets go back to the tea tray example and put one handle higher than the other, the amount of concentration required to keep the thing level is now greatly increased, one slight lapse and you've sploshed PG tips all over your custard creams. Cranked paring chisels are specialist tools with comparatively limited application. For the majority of jobs where you might use one there are usually two or three alternative ways of doing it (bullnose plane, rebate plane etc).

How do you use a paring chisel....?

It's all about minimum force and maximum control. The cutting edge should be absolutely shaving sharp, a very sharp edge cuts with less resistance and the smaller the amount of exertion required, the more control you have. Paring chisels are often ground 5 or so degrees shallower than the standard 25, sacraficing a little edge strength to achieve greater sharpness and lower penetrative resistance. They are sometimes tempered a couple of points softer than a bench chisel so that they are easier to touch up frequently.

You can further reduce exertion and increase control by using bigger muscle groups and letting your body weight work with you rather than against you. Your arms hold the chisel steady, elbows tucked in close to the body but with all of the muscles in your arms relaxed. The pommel of the handle nestles into your dominant hand, palm facing upwards. With the other hand, pinch the the blade as far forward as possible so that your forefinger is supporting the blade and resting on the timber. Stand with your feet apart, as you would to play snooker or pool, and allow the blade to slide between the fingers of your guiding hand as you make the cut, using the bigger muscles in your legs and backside to control the application of your bodyweight.

If you are paring vertically, the principle is exactly the same but you use your core (stomach) muscles to control the application of your bodyweight. The workpiece should be positioned low enough that you can get your shoulder directly over the cut.

Do paring chisels need to be lapped dead flat...?

Within reason, yes they should be within two or three thou of flat. Ideally a paring chisel should be ever so slightly concave. This makes it much easier to sharpen because you can access the underside of the cutting edge. If it starts out absolutely flat then the chances are that normal sharpening will eventually cause it to become convex. A slight convexity is undesirable but nothing to be afraid of, just work the chisel on a coarse abrasive surface that is shorter than its length (across the stone or a narrow strip of film) and concavity will return. A narrow strip of PSA backed 3M 100 micron AO microfinishing film is ideal for this task.

Beautiful tools, great prices, friendly service!

Monday, 4 February 2013

The most wonderful shop in Paris...

(all photos are clickable)

..BHV....nope..(although the tool section on the ground floor is worth exploring)
..Galleries La Fayette - impressive, but no.
..La Samaritaine (sadly closed)...non.

All the grandeur and showmanship in the world can't compete for sheer loveliness with a small family owned business that has has been supplying cullinary equipment to the chefs of Paris for nearly 200 years. 

Situated on the corner of rue Coquillière and rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau in the 1st arrondisement (not far from the Pompidou Centre) E Dehillerin is an absolute mecca for anyone who enjoys cooking. Professional quality pots and pans of every conceivable size and shape in copper, stainless steel, aluminium or cast iron. Porcelain tableware, wooden spoons from 4 inches to 4 feet long, knives and cutlery, stainless or carbon, in dozens of different sizes and styles.

The most wonderful thing about Dehillerin though, isn't so much the wonderful products that they sell, but how they sell them, it's just like being in J.K. Rowling's Diagon Alley. Every last inch of the shop is full from floor to ceiling, the stock is carefully organised on plain wooden shelves and pigeon holes with pricelists hanging from pieces of string. If you would like an extra thick copper whatnot, then a nice man will disappear up a ladder and get it for you.

When you have finalised your purchases, they are all wrapped neatly into brown paper parcels while your hand written invoice is prepared.

You emerge from Dehillerin feeling exhilerated, there is a feeling of stepping back into the present day after a wonderful journey through time. Compare that with the feeling of information overload imparted by a modern department store and you have 'the difference'.

You can order from Dehillerin online, although it is not quite like a normal ecommerce site. You send them a list of what you want, they email you a proforma invoice, you send the payment details and your culinary goodies will be dispatched 'tout-suite'.

Beautiful tools, great prices, friendly service!