Tag Archives: sharpening

Sharpening like my Grandpa

One of the guys in my CAD/CNC group said something profound today. “Its ┬álike running your outboard at full throttle, and then loosing the prop… ” Yep, that pretty much describes it. Caregiving over the long haul pretty much demands full throttle all the time… and when your spouse passes away, not only do you have the inertia of the rotation assembly, but the grief part easily turns into a overspeed situation with a high probability for runaway… Big picture wise, I saw this with my neighbor after his wife passed some years back… it was only a few months before he joined her.

I’ve sensed overspeed once before after a car crash where my head got to do some banging around on the roof of the car as I went end over end a few times. The seat belt kept me in place, but its design criteria assumes A the roof won’t collapse very much, and B, the seat belt won’t break during the rotation period. Despite such, my only injury was a sliced up head… and for the next couple weeks, talk about major overspeed. ┬áBeing the blatant opportunist, my thinking was wow, how can I monetize this and ride it out for financial gain… but its very situational. I could fly through some projects, and others I’d just stare into space and/or get flustered. Overspeed is not all unicorns and daisies.

This time however… overspeed was there, but leveraging it for financial gain was the last thing on my mind, at least in the short term. My thinking was to ride it out… and as the initial grief waned, try to put it to some positive use. Alas, this didn’t work out too well, as overspeed + runaway started seriously messing with my physiology… I was almost thinking I may need to go see a doc, which got me thinking about my neighbor today. He just rode it out, and just like me, he viewed going to see the doc as anathema, but it didn’t end well for him. One big difference of course is age. He was quite a few years my senior, but the pieces make a whole lot more sense now.

Apparently all of the above was obvious to an old friend of mine… who got me to slam on the brakes in a huge, albeit unconventional way where in I morphed into grandpa mode last weekend. Amazingly, or perhaps more so, logically, the physiological stuff disappeared almost immediately. What truly was amazing though, is the productivity aspect… in part as the grief fog is starting to clear, but in part also as hair on fire mode is not always as productive as it appears.

I remember growing up, whenever we needed something sharpened, it would go to grandpa. He could make shears, saw blades, mowers, pretty much you name it as good as, or in most cases better than new. My dad called it magical. I’d always assumed it was the result of 50+ years of farming… but was curious, so I’d go hang out and watch grandpa sharpen stuff.

At 85, he was no speed demon, but you could drop off a bunch of things to be sharpened one day, and the next day, he’d have them all ready for you to pick up. Even more so, short of garden tools and drill bits, he rarely used a grinder.

1. Grandpa believed the factory guys knew what they were doing, so when he sharpened something, he made sure to keep the angles the same as the original factory edge. Such is easy to do by hand with a file or stone, its near impossible to do free hand with an electric grinder. Even if an edge has been massacred by a youngster with a grinder (me), there will always be bits and/or clues as to what the correct angle needs to be.

2. At 85, Grandpas energy was limited, so rather than trying to get everything done in an hour, if it took all day and he missed his tv show, nap, or worked into the evening, such was ok by him. In other words, he worked at a constant pace, and he was not going to let day to day things interrupt the stride he initially set… but he was more than willing to take time to explain to me what he was doing. Such also kept him from getting overly tired, or feeling the need to take a break due to a faster pace.

It turned out grandpa taught me well… when things would get slow at the airport, I’d go into sharpening mode. I remember my boss being really impressed after he brought in his home mower for me to sharpen one day… he was so impressed, it got to be that at a couple times of the year, all I’d do was sharpen customers blades rather than work on planes. He called it ensuring customer satisfaction in a humorous way… they could learn to fly, get flight checks, or just rent out planes, and as a novelty, we’d sharpen their mower blades for free.

So, this last weekend, being I had some mower blades to sharpen, I did it grandpas way. It turns out, that even when I run up on thicker grass, the mower no longer bogs down at all. Such never happened back in the day when I’d just touch up the edge with an angle grinder. In fact, I kept up a pretty constant pace from mid morning until into the night, pretty much just as grandpa used to do… and when all is said and done, the lawn hasn’t looked this good in years.


I think there is a lot of wisdom in Grandpa’s approach.