Tools for tomorrow, today
Circle No. 155
Circle No. 151
IYou can use water to keep the cutting edge cool on the Lap-Sharp, unlike the other two machines.The Lap-Sharp's disc turns slower, too, so it's almost impossible to overheat an edge.
3Scrapers are easy to sharpen using the auxiliary tool support set to 45 or 90 degrees. You'll quickly get a flawless edge, ready for burnishing.
and hone chisels, plane blades, scrapers, caning tools, turning tools and even jointer and planer knives to the sharpest edge possible on any machine. The basic Lap-Sharp doesn't come with guides for holding these tools, however-they're available as separate accessories.
The Lap-Sharp differs from the other machines: it uses water with the finer abrasives. Sprayed or dripped on the discs, water cools a tool's edge and carries away sharpening debris (Photo 1). For purists, cooling with water is a big deal. Makers and users of high-end Japanese tools contend that heating a tool while dry-grinding or honing decreases its ability to hold an edge. We all know that dramatically overheating a tool, to the point that the metal changes color, causes this effect. These folks contend this damage occurs at lower temperatures, too. While no one to our knowledge has scientifically tested this theory, it's hard to ignore years of experience. Some independent experts in the field of testing edge tools believe this degradation occurs with Western tools as well.
The Lap-Sharp is a beautiful piece of engineering, well thought out. To help lapping, you use a foot pedal to turn on the machine. This allows you to precisely position the tool before the disc starts spinning. The result is a flatter surface than one you can make using the other power sharpeners. The Lap-Sharp's 8-in. dia. discs spin at about 200 rpm, much slower than other machines. It will go clockwise or counterclockwise. The discs are color-coded; each one holds a single grit on one side. A wide variety of grits and types of sandpaper are available, each tailored for specific applications. In general, these are higher-quality abrasives than those used by other machines. They last longer and have a more uniform grit.
The basic Lap-Sharp is designed for freehand sharpening. That's fine if you sharpen your tools using just one bevel. But if you prefer two bevels or a microbevel to speed up the sharpening process, you're better off using the Lap-Sharp tool support and tool holder ($80). The tool holder is OK, but Lap-Sharp will soon introduce a more sophisticated model diat promises to be easier to set up.
An enhanced Lap-Sharp LS-600VS ($1,295) offers variable speed (from 100 to 600 rpm) and soft start. A higher speed reduces the amount of time it takes to sharpen jointer and planer blades. Soft start helps make lapping and honing even more precise. Source
Wood Artistry, www.woodartistry.com (707) 473-0593, Lap-Sharp LS-200, $595; LS-600VS, $1,295.
2You can sharpen planer and jointer knives on the Lap-Sharp with an accessory sliding jig ($250). A jig for turning and carving tools is also available ($120).
~ Fine Woodworking Magazine — Nov/Dec 2006
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fry Jonathan Schwartz
When I was a college student, I worked at a cabinet shop. The shop's owner was a gifted craftsman, but he knew very little math. After I taught him basic right-triangle trigonometry, he was amazed how easy it was to calculate angles for the complex custom cabinets that he built.
Today my job as a math teacher at Colfax High School in Colfax, California is just the opposite. When I started teaching in 1995, my trigonometry classes were filled with college-bound students that could not calculate fractions or read a tape measure. Watching them struggle with basic math made me realize that they didn't understand how numbers work. That's when it occurred to me that students can learn only so much in a traditional classroom with books and a whiteboard; real learning also occurs when they work with their hands.
Woodshop students use AutoCAD programs to design their projects. Colfax's woodshop has its own computer lab, which is adjacent to the shop.
Why doesn't it fit? Instructor Jonathan Schwartz has found that students develop problem-solving skills by designing and building projects.
machines had disappeared from the shop and fewer than half of those that remained were in working order. The persistent lack of funding and the lingering belief that manual skills are secondary in the computer age made the task more difficult.
My big break came when I discovered-that federal, state and private grant money was available to fund technology. This was the jump-start J needed to get woodshop back into the curriculum. With my school district's help, I applied for a federal, state-administered grant to establish a program called EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology), a projects-based technology class. The intent of EAST was to motivate students academically by engaging them in projects—exactly what a woodshop does. The grant proposed having students design projects on the computer with AutoCAD and then build them next door in the woodshop. The funds from the grant allowed us to rebuild the shop, purchase computers and install a computer lab right next door (top photo).
The class is purposefully titled "Design and Construction" to include both academic and hands-on experience—and to make it sound more appealing to parents. An instant hit with students, die class always has a waiting list. It draws an interesting mix of students. Some are from my pre-calculus class and on their way to becoming engineers; others are on vocational tracks to work in cabinet shops or as carpenters. We even have a class shirt. On the front it pictures a kid working on a computer, with the title "Design and Construction." But on the back, under a skull and crossbones (crossed hammers, actually), it says "aka Woodshop."
Grant money has played an important role in revitalizing Colfax High School's woodshop program. Jonathan's portable Laptop and Bottom stool was awarded a design-and-build grant from the Lemelson-MIT invention program that helped to fund additional woodshop tool purchases.
32 American Woodworker january 2008
Our program has also benefited from several product-design grants from the Lemelson-MIT program, which supports invention and innovation. The most recent grant was to develop a folding wooden stool that doubles as a laptop case—it's named the Laptop and Bottom (bottom photos, page 31). In addition to funding the projects, the MIT grants allowed us to buy additional tools for the woodshop. We even entered the Laptop and Bottom prototype in the Staples Invention Contest (a national contest sponsored by the office supply company).
After the class had been operating for a couple years, the county's Regional Occupation Program (www.49erROP.com) offered to help with funding, recognizing it as a valuable career technical education program. (California and other states are beginning to acknowledge the relevance of shop classes and are starting to make more money available through state giants and regional occupation programs.)
Currently, I'm trying to get funding from a local lumber company to buy a small lumber mill. I have access to logs, because I operate a part-time tree
32 American Woodworker january 2008
Many funding opportunities are available for school woodshop programs, including federal, state, foundation and private grants. Search the Internet to find them, or partner with your school board, as I did, or contact municipal, county or state governmental representatives for help. Many government and private organizations recognize the value of woodshop classes and want to put money into promising programs. In my experience, providers care most that the money will be used to teach students hands-on skills, so be sure to clearly explain that aspect in your application. Before you apply for a grant, it's important to know how it's targeted. For example, if you teach in a suburban school, it's a waste of time to apply for a grant targeted for an inner-city school.
American Woodworker january 2008 33
Tell us about a dynamic woodworking school or vibrant teaching program. What makes it work? Point out notable teaching strategies and student accomplishments. Explain how the program excites students about woodworking and tell us how it helps them develop woodworking skills. Whether the program operates in a public school, community center or a private workshop, we want to near about its success. E-mail youi story to schoolnewsiiamericanwoodworker.com.
service in the summer. At the start of the school year, the students and I would mill the logs; the following year we'd use that wood for our projects. The goal is to teach students academically by involving them with a project from start to finish—with hands-on experience, of course.
I've learned that teaching woodshop is harder work than teaching math. The students are more demanding, the stress level is much higher (imagine thirty 15-year-olds working in a room full of power saws), and keeping the machinery running is a full-time job. However, teaching woodshop is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I see the kids learning at rates I have never seen before. Every new batch of woodshop students reminds me of the importance of hands-on practical learning and reinforces my opinion that woodshop (or any manual-arts class) is essential for every student.
Jonathan Schwartz graduated from U.C. Davis and after traveling around the world as an outdoor guide, started a contracting business. After five years, he returned to education. Jonathan attained a Masters in Math Education from Harvard in 1995 and has been teaching math at Colfax High School in California ever since. His woodshop "Design and Construction" class is now in its third year. According to Jonathan, the secret to teaching innovation and creativity is to have kids look at complex problems and come up with solutions. "It's hard for students to come up with a solution unless they are able to build it and see if it works or not— and build it again if it does not work."
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