I recently had the opportunity to spend a day in the shop with Dave for a 1:1 sharpening class and wanted to relate my experience to the community.
It's always a bit difficult to set expectations for what to anticipate of someone who frequently interacts with you in an authority/expertise function, and that purely online. But....Dave was relaxed, quick to laugh, and has a wide range of interests, including human nature. His shop is located in Fleetwood, among the beautiful, rolling hills of the nearly stereotypical Pensylvannia Dutch--some of which you have seen in another thread. When driving throughout the area you will encounter signs warning you to be aware of horse-n-buggies on the road, many signs for local handmade furniture/meats/cheeses/etc. The barns, fields, and other farming facilities in this area are also astonishing...I really wish there was a well-designed tour just for these things. Anyway, back to Dave....
I arrived around 10am, Dave answered the door and immediately and ushered me in. He had stocked the shop fridge with my preferred (non-alcoholic) beverages and we talked a bit about how our time would go, the forum, and then looked over my knife/stone collection. We proceeded to a discussion about asymmetry of edges, and blade construction itself, followed by a practicum of putting a straight edge against blade faces and discussing what we saw. This was very beneficial as I understood the principles, but hadn't been able to see it with my own eyes.
After this, we moved to the sharpening table. Dave took his time sharpening one of my knives, going over the process in great detail...explaining what he was looking for on the knife, the stone, the light, the sound, feel, etc. and esp how it was changing as the steel was abraded, the stone was abraded, the angle of the knife was changing, etc. We spent a while talking about stones, stone maintenance (just learning a new way to lap my stones was extremely valuable, and fixed a problem I had with flattening a stone for several months now!), and how different stones respond to pressure. Then we switched places and Dave watched me in great detail, providing consistent, regular, and gentle feedback while I sharpened one of my knives on my stones. I learned a considerable amount about my knife any my stones in this process. We next spent a while talking about stropping, and doing some stropping.
We then moved on to my only single-bevel. Dave did a through break-in on it, revealed some flaws in the grind* (which also explained a little bit of waviness in the shinogi), and corrected all but 1 of the grid issues (too much work to fix in the class), next I did some work on the Ura (Uraoshi?) and the bevel(s) itself under Dave's close supervision.
Dave then spent some time talking about the value of natural stones for single-bevels (and we got to play with some which had just arrived from Maxim!), and Dave spent a little time pretty-ing up the bevel with some finger stones.
After that I had to run in order to prevent my spousal unit from receiving a lengthy prison sentence...though Dave (and I!) could have spent quite a few more hours chatting about a variety of things...and I suspect the discussion would have neccessitated the consumption of malted barley products at some point.
I had 2 specific items learned that will make a huge difference (though I learned many many things): 1) sharpening and thinning aren't different activities or different parts of the process...they are the same activity in 2 phases; 2) stropping is where it's at...seriously (testing sharpness at multiple phases along the way made this even more clear than my experience with MuchoBocho a week earlier).
To sum it up: I learned a lot, I had a lot of fun, I was made to feel comfortable and welcome, and I will definitely drop back by if I'm anywhere nearby again....and perhaps Dave will open the door despite recognizing me.
*I should mention that Dave pointed out that these particular flaws are common in a single-bevel in this price range.