Sharpening and industrial depth
I found this 1943 Norton Abrasives’ sharpening manual at an estate sale, I think. It was probably free for the asking in hardware stores, or by mail. What intrigues me is the complex vocabulary and sentence structure of the instructions. Machinists and carpenters (or for that matter people who wanted to touch up their straight-razor) were expected to be able to read at a pretty high level. Being that this is the 22nd revised edition, they had plenty of chances to revise the language to reach their target audience.
The manual is an example of industrial depth, which is to say there are whole sub-industries into which modern advertising culture provides no insight. Most people sit on furniture, but couldn’t describe any of the machines that made the furniture, or the cutting tools used on the machines, or the abrasives that sharpened the cutting tools, or the process that made the abrasives, or the science behind the processes. Yet these things are triumphs of progress – it says so right in the manual.
I’ve included three pictures that describe how I sharpen a pocketknife on a diamond whetstone. Except, you can use diamond stones dry now, where it used to be a matter of some debate whether to use oil on a Carborundum™ stone, and then water on an Arkensas stone. I have all those, but just use the diamond stone now. And the pocketknife is made of an alloy that didn’t exist until the 1970’s and even then I think it was for jet turbine blades.
The whole manual is up in my photostream, if you are the kind of geek who finds that sort of thing interesting. (Its presence in my photostream pretty much identifies me as one of that kind of geek, I suppose)