Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sharpening knives

I like to sharpen knives. I especially like to sharpen knives in front of company. It helps pass the time while I listen to their banal drivel, and it reinforces the image I cultivate of a mentally unstable genius.
Like most things, sharpening is easy to do and difficult to do well.
A felt-tip marking pen and a magnifying glass are helpful tools. If you mark the edge, you'll be able to see how much metal you've removed, how much more you need to remove, and where you need to remove it. Once you've got the correct, uniform angle along the entire edge, switch to progressively finer stones. When the "scratches" you can see with the magnifying glass are acceptably fine, finish up by honing just the last few molecules of the edge with a ceramic rod and a very slightly increased angle. For the ultimate edge, finish with a razor strop. It's not necessary, but it's possible to produce an edge that looks mirror smooth and cuts literally like a razor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Airplane camping

A friend bought a bushplane (an Aviat Husky A1B) in Seattle, and we ferried it across the country to New Hampshire. Seven days of flying low enough to smell pine trees and cows. The windows were open most of the time. Except when we needed fuel, we stayed as remote as possible. The baggage compartment weight limit was only 50 pounds, so we went ultra-light with such things as titanium cooking gear and hammocks instead of a tent. Following the train tracks through the mountain passes in Glacier National Park was spectacular. Camping by a lake in Michigan's upper peninsula was another highlight. The first pic is a road we landed on in Montana. The second is the survival gear I brought along.