Hey everyone. I recently took a ĎOne on Oneí sharpening class with Dave and I thought that I would write a review of my experience. It is a little long so Iíve broken it down into sections to make it easier for people to find what they want or avoid unnecessary reading.
My intro to J knives came before communities like this existed so Iím completely self-taught. I eventually came to a point where I was able to put a decent, long lasting edge on a knife without drastically altering or damaging it. Iíve changed my approach several times as things evolved and information became more readily available. I had sent a few of my knives to Dave for re handle jobs and he confirmed that I was doing OK. The reason I wanted to take this class was, as Dave so appropriately put it was to Ďup my gameí.
Iím a pretty shy and reserved guy but I felt immediately at ease with Dave. He is just one of those easy, unassuming guys that can disarm you with hello. We started with a conversation about forums and forum-related matters past and present. It was just like I was meeting up with an old friend.
Dave as a teacher:
I was REALLY surprised here. I only know Dave from his work on the forums and I never imagined that he has the teaching experience that he does. He has a lot of experience with individuals, groups and he has even spoken at large events. Dave understands that everyone learns differently. Some people are visual, others hands-on, etc. and he adapts his teaching method on a case-by-case basis. Another thing I noticed is that Dave is not overbearing nor does he use negative feedback to make his point. He never told me that I was doing something Ďwrongí. I donít know if this is part of his teaching acumen or his personality but I appreciated it.
The class is divided into a theoretical talk including diagrams and then a practical session of sharpening. After each stage of work on the stones or stropping a test is performed as a means to demonstrate how and why progress is being made toward a sharper, stronger edge. Dave demonstrated first and then I followed. Dave offered advice as I sharpened.
The theory was interesting and being a forum guy we were able to skim over it very quickly. The actual sharpening was a real eye opener and it was at that moment I realized the difference between a guy who can throw out theory on a forum and a guy that can sharpen. Believe me folks. When you see Dave at work on the stones you know that the game is on and you know who is in charge. Daveís movements are so efficient it is clear that his muscle memory has been developed through countless hours at the stones. He is evaluating things and making changes so fast I can only describe it by saying that there was no space between thought and action. I donít know if Dave noticed or not but this was the only time I was uncomfortable during the class. I was intimidated to demonstrate what I had previously thought to be a pretty good level of skill and I was probably on the 3rd stone before I relaxed a little. But Dave, true to his professional nature didnít flinch. His calm, relaxed demeanor never changed and this is yet another testament to Daveís teaching ability. There is no ego involved or need to prove anything on his part. His focus remained on doing what was in my best interests.
What I learned:
Well, I learned way too much to explain it all here. I actually learned that some things I though I didnít have a handle on were pretty good and other things I thought were OK needed improvement. In general terms here are a few of the things I picked up.
- If something isnít working the solution isnít necessarily going out and buying something else. The most likely solution to the problem is a change in approach. Lapping differently, stropping differently, etc. Small tweaks can translate into hugely different results. Donít be afraid to experiment.
- Strop, man. Strop!! I learned through repeated demonstration that stropping is just as important as hitting the stones. One of the things that Dave noticed was that I was sharpening at too high of an angle. Being self-taught I realized early on that sharpening at a really low angle could give me a killer edge but like the movie it was gone in 60 seconds. I subsequently raised my angle of approach to make my edges stronger. The problem? I wasnít refining my edges enough through stropping. Better stropping produces better edges. Period.
- I always beat myself up for having uneven bevels but Dave pointed out that I hold my angles very well and demonstrated that my uneven bevels were caused by my knifeís geometry. I knew this in theory but Dave helped me to connect the dots and make sense of it.
Who is this class for?:
This class is for everyone no matter your skill level. It is important to remember that the class is about you and your goals and it is interactive. It beats watching DVDs or YouTube flat out.
Beginners can really benefit from a class like this. If you have ever practiced sports youíll know that learning a movement incorrectly takes infinitely longer to correct than just learning it correctly the first time. If you start with Dave youíre starting out right. Intermediate sharpeners can absolutely benefit from this class. Dave has so much up his sleeve that a guy with a good base can absorb a ton from this class. Advanced sharpeners can benefit from Dave as well. Along with encyclopedic knowledge Dave has a multicolored galaxy of tools, stones and knife-related gadgetry. This is a great opportunity to sit down, equipped like never before and share ideas. Bring things to a very high level.
Recommendations to future students:
Bring your gear! The class is about you. Take the opportunity to have your gear evaluated. What better way to have Dave demonstrate how to improve things than by using your own gear?
The absolute most important thing I learned:
I hate to wax too poetic or become too philosophical but I would like to share a personal thought about this class. We live in a society of instant gratification. From the day we are born we are hit with advertising that tells us how happy we are going to be with the next great thing. We get it and we are happy for a short while but then the void hits and we need the next new thing to make us happy again. It is no secret that people go into debt to buy consumer goods that provide temporary happiness and among those goods knives are no exception. Iíve bought knives from people who have openly admitted that they were either intimidated to use or sharpen it because of the cost of the knife. Well, how much is that knife really worth? Taking a class with Dave is a true investment in your knife interest and more importantly, in yourself. For the price of a knife or two you are learning something that will never become less valuable. Sharpening will become more efficient, more pleasurable and less costly in the long run.
When I was first considering this class I was hesitant more than a few times about the cost both to my wallet and my time to experience something that I wasnít 100% sure I could benefit from. Now I understand that I couldnít afford to miss this class. It is the best money I have ever spent on anything knife related.
Thank you Dave.