sharpening waveforms

Sharpening tools to make velvet patterns.

Today was the first time I needed to sharpen my tools. I haven’t done it before, and I’m so dependent on my lathe chisels that I went into it with a lot of trepidation. 

I had started shaping a new blank of wood on the lathe, but the roughing tool kept catching and stopping the wood, and there was so much resistance in the cutting motions. After running my fingers across the edge of the blades, I realised just how blunt they had become.


I used a simple whetstone I have, designed for kitchen knives. I started with the 4000 grit side and began with the largest tool. Starting by working slowly, then picking up pace as I gained more confidence in maintaining a decent angle, and realising it was working (at least sort of).

Going back to the lathe and putting a new blank on, I noticed an instant difference. The smooth cutting motion was back, the resistance was gone.

making waves

Moving the small, curved tools back and forth along the whetstone left grooves of different lengths and depths. The undulations reminded me of audio waveforms, so I took the audio recording of the sharpening process and converted it to waveforms.

The back and forth motions, the rhythmic movement and the physical grooves etched into the whetstone could all be translated into classic and dot waveforms.


I would like to echo the waveforms in the woven velvet pile. Changing the height of the pile as I weave to create undulations in the velvet, and also weaving the velvet pile underneath the ground cloth, instead of only above, to mimic the peaks and valleys of the waveforms.

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©Emma Wood 2024