. No matter how you look at it, the sharper your edge, and more distinct your scraper burrs......the better "tool finish", or quality of cut you can attain. This is probably the most important thing to master, because it will minimize your sanding. The truth is: The better your tool finish, the finer grit you can commence with, and the less you will sand......and the less sanding you do, the less surface distortion you will have. It's very simple, really....... To be sure, you need to require yourself to know and practice a lot of other techniques and skills, but without sharp tools, things are just not going to work for you.......it MUST be a concerted effort between you and your tools! (I suppose it all depends on how motivated you are in your personal search for perfection, as to how important to you this is.) There are some very talented and knowledgeable turners that are satisfied with less than the best edge because, as they say, the burrs and fine sharp edge just don't last very long........AND, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! We all will come to these crossroads, and make our choice. Settle for less, or walk the walk, and find a way to get that sharp edge......and, KEEP IT SHARP. Here's my secret for gouges......sharpen and hone.....hone, hone, hone, hone, hone, etc. I probably hone a dozen times before returning to the grinder. Honing will create a secondary bevel, and when that bevel is about 1/32" +/-, it will interfere with function and then returns to the grinder. While honing, keep the hone as flat to the ground bevel as you can, because this will allow you to hone more times, prior to returning to the grinder. Some turners don't hone at all......and, for the life of me, I can't understand why keeping the ultra-sharp edge isn't all that important to them. (I suspect it's because they just don't want to pause with what they are doing.......a mistake that bears out in the results!) With gouges, I seldom turn for more than a minute or two, before touching up the edge with a diamond hone. Always, and I do mean ALWAYS, remove the burr from the flute.....it's adds to the ultimate sharpness. (I use a cone shaped diamond.) Think about it.......that burr is the edge bending over.......straighten it out, and the edge is sharper. For scrapers, the distinctly sharp edge of the burr dulls even faster than gouges. I find myself returning to the grinder after two or three swipes......often before the wheels of the grinder have completely stopped! It only takes a second, and the improved/maintained quality produced by a properly prepared and presented scraper will bring a smile to your face.......even on tough wood, like burls, most spalting, and endgrain. (It's important to note that on a rounded scraper taking the finest of cuts, you're only using a very small fraction of the available cutting edge available........in most cases, you can extend the life of the burr by using the entire surface of the burr in sections. There are times when this may not be possible (like negotiating an inside curve), but keep it in mind.) If you want to eliminate tearout completely with most woods, and have it so minimal that you have to look real closely to see it on the most difficult woods.......maintaining sharp tools is how it's done........ All of the above is in respect to attaining the best possible surface prior to sanding. For roughing and preliminary shaping, the rules can be fudged a little........but never let it get to the point where you're creating unnecessary work for yourself.......sharpen it. Some species of wood, and specific individual examples of most all wood, tend to tearout more than others...... If it goes deeper than where your intended final surface will be.......you're in trouble! ooc I remember seeing a video by John Jordan years ago.......In that video, he had a chalkboard behind him.......and on that chalkboard was written: "The answer to your question is: Sharpen your tool! " .........Soooooo true! .