He'd brought them new and used them straight out of the box, wrongly assuming that they were sharp from new, a mistake I've seen a lot of people make (in fact I'm sure I thought it at some point).
[Sharpening using an oil stone on my trusty saw horse]
Honing is what gives a single edge tool its sharpness
On site I carry an oil stone to hone a quick edge onto my chisels and plane irons (one day I'll get a diamond stone but for now this does a great job), back at the workshop I use my secret weapon - a reverse running grinder with a felt wheel (the green one on the right hand side in the photo below). This sharpens blades in seconds to a razor edge whilst hardly taking any metal off the tool, it's great for curved tools like gouges - something that most people struggle with otherwise.
[My "sharpening staion" in my workshop]
The grinder on the left (the white one where the wheel needs dressing) is used if the tool needs regrinding (if its been honed too many times and started to "nose over" or if I've hit a nail and taken a chunk out of it), fitted with a number of jigs this enables me to sharpen pretty much everything I've got from woodturning chisels to plane irons.
What systems do other people use? I'd love to hear about them.