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A RECOVERING INK-STAINED WRETCH

Call me a recovering ink-stained wretch. I started out as a mush-for-brains reporter for the Kansas City Star at age 19 and ended up, 40 years later, as a business-page columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

I always wrote a good sentence, and by the time I retired I had come to know more about my specialty – insurance – than most people who sell the stuff.

That made me a good journalist. But the time had come for something different.

WHY NOT?
I CAN DO THIS

I took to woodworking, developed a love for hand tools, and one day decided to make an infill hand plane from scratch, by hand. Why not, I thought. I can do this.

 

Lo and behold, my first plane, crude as it was, cut a lovely wood shaving, so I set about making a second, and then a third and a fourth, determined to make each one better than the last. I kept at it for a full five years, sold a few here and there, and, since I made and sharpened the blades for my planes, learned a thing or two about sharp edges along the way.

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TOO SHARP

Then the woman who cuts what remains of my hair asked whether I could sharpen her salon shears. I could, of course. Indeed, I made her shears so sharp that she ordered me to dull them down.

 

I was soon doing the same for hair stylists and barbers all over Santa Maria, where I live. But truth be told, salon shears and clipper blades bore me. I like knives – the ultimate hand tool, really – and these days I sharpen salon shears, garden tools and the like only under protest.

A SIMPLE THING DONE RIGHT

 I do a simple thing. I sharpen knives.

I do it well.

I’d be delighted to sharpen yours.