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Bewdley Town Council

Transition Bewdley Repair Café: Focus on a tool sharpener.

By Bewdley Town Council Bewdley Town Council

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

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One of the services most in demand at the Bewdley Repair Café is sharpening of garden tools and kitchen implements. Visitors will have seen our volunteer working non-stop, sparks flying as he gives new life to a long queue of tools.

His name is Peter Whittle, age 72. He lives between Bewdley and Stourport and provide a sharpening service at Bewdley Repair Café and occasionally help out at Kidderminster.

Peter writes, ”My career has been largely in analytical chemistry, predominately the testing of environmental samples, clean and dirty waters, agricultural and contaminated soils, air, for trace pollutants. I still undertake some work, visiting testing laboratories in the UK and Middle East to assess competency and compliance to an ISO standard for accreditation.

In spite of achieving a Ph.D. in chemistry, I always said, and only partially ‘tongue in cheek’, that the most useful thing I did at school was ‘O’ Level woodwork. It provided basic skills, including the sharpening of tools, that have lasted me a lifetime, helping with DIY and woodworking projects such as building log stores and a shelter for our alpacas, and my retirement hobby of woodturning. As part of my hobby, I have studied the different systems that are available for sharpening and acquired the kit I considered useful, which I use at the Repair Café.

Without grinding wheel facilities, there is a limited amount that can be done to maintain sharpness at home, as most items require the cutting edge re-profiling at some stage. The Repair Cafes provide a valuable service in re-profiling and sharpening of blunt tools, the sharpness of which can then be maintained at home for a while using a ‘steel’, whetstone or diamond plate. Sharpening services are not readily available commercially these days and can be expensive.

For a person like myself, the Repair Café provides some interesting technical challenges and the opportunity to make peoples’ lives a little easier. The bulk of the work involves kitchen knives, scissors and garden tools, but the Bangladeshi fish slicers (rather like a billhook mounted on a steel frame) were perhaps the most notable challenge. Most items except saws are attempted; saws take too long to sharpen in the time scale available.”

The sharpening team has recently grown with the addition of Tim, a young black-smith, at 24 our youngest volunteer and 89 year old Tony, a retired engineer (our oldest volunteer by a small margin).  With 3 experts working together, the long queues are disappearing and we urge everyone to look out their secateurs, shears, edging spades and other tools ready for the new gardening season.

The next Bewdley Repair Café will be on 17th. March at St. Georges Hall from 10.0 – 2.0 and we look forward to welcoming our visitors coming with a range of items to repair and sharpen. Any queries or offers to volunteer, please contact John Rhymer on 01299 403424.

 

 

 

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