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The last discussion dedicated to sharpening tools I found cobalt stated about a year ago. We have new comers to the forum, some thinking about doing some carving and some new experienced carvers to add insight in to sharp tools. Sharpening is one of those things that is easy to do. (Once You Learn How.) But can be really frustrating at first. It is an essential skill to learn if you want to carve. Those of us who have been doing this for a while will tell you that a sharp tool is the safest tool. Most tools today come sharp but no all come carving sharp. With a shallow cut, the cutting edge should slice though the wood leaving a smooth and somewhat shiny surface. The amount of pressure it takes to push the edge thought the wood will vary with the wood you are cutting. But on a typical shallow cut it should not be real hard to make the cut. There are a lot of sharpening stones and power sharpening tools out there. If you are new, I would suggest staying away from power sharpening at first. You can ruin a good tool very fast if you are not careful. There are many different types of stones, soft or hard Arkansas, diamond, ceramic and others. I started out with a double sided stone with a soft Arkansas on one side and hard on the other. I still use it for quick tune-ups much of the time. There are You Tubes, books and DVDs you can get. My first suggestion is if possible get with another carver. I highly recommend finding a carving club or group within driving distance. In the early days that help me more than anything. I got very good at it with Chris Pye's book and video. His is not the fastest way but for me it is what I chose to do. If you are new at it choose a method that feels comfortable to you and sick with it, if it is working. I hope we can get a good discussion going on sharpening and stropping.
 

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I'm still in the experimenting phase. Stones, strops, and a very small device with 1/4" wide abrasive belts. Haven't mastered any of that. I did better 55 years ago as a kid with just a couple of stones.
 

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I'm still in the experimenting phase. Stones, strops, and a very small device with 1/4" wide abrasive belts. Haven't mastered any of that. I did better 55 years ago as a kid with just a couple of stones.
I do not know if the will be of any help but The biggest problem I had was using to much pressure on both the stone and a strop. I was dulling the edge. With less pressure I could hold the blade at the angle better and I was not pushing the blade edge into the stone but timing off the the steel. My issues with the strop was first I was trying to use to thick of a leather. As I pressed down on the leather the blade edge was actually sunk into the leather and as I brought it back the leather would roll up on the edge as the blade edge pasted, shining and dulling the blade. A thin leather on a hard surface work better. Along with smooth light passes. I use inside of thin cardboard from a cereal box with compound on it for final passes and polishing now.. The other mistake I did stropping was roll the blade off at the end of a pass. As I picked up the blade I would twist my wrist dragging the edge just a little bit as it came off the end of the strop. Now I tilt the cutting edge back as I finish a pass. Or stop and lift the blade straight up. I do use power now to correct a problem with a blade, finishing up with stone and strop. I have found a very light touch with it is best. It gives me much better control of what is happening and I am less likely to hurt the blade.

Also I have found keeping the stone and strop clean helps. Dust and grime can build up and the blade can ride on that more then the sharpening surface. When I did not have any thing else I used a baggy or old sock.
 

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I had to sharpen a dull knife last night made with pretty hard steel. I had a really hard time getting that "wire edge" until I switched fluids - WD40 on the stone instead of oil did the trick. Once I developed the wire edge, a very light draw of the blade across the stone, parallel to the length of the blade and some stropping and the knife is shaving sharp.
 

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For many years I had 3 principle tools. A small pocket stone, coarse/medium grit, a larger fine grit Arkansas stone, and a very cupped oil stone that belonged to my grandfather. Those worked pretty well for the assortment of hand gouges. The cupped stone was pretty good for the larger mallet size gouges.

Along the way, from doing other carpentry and fabrication at work, I learned to use fine grit wet/dry paper to extend the life of craft and snap-off razor edge blades. Also eventually learned how to hold chisels steady against belt sanders.

Just before I returned to carving, I bought some better kitchen knives, harder steel than standard stainless, and also began restoring my older knives. I bought a sharpening system called an Apex Edge Pro, which can be set anywhere from 22 degrees to 10, and came w. 6 grits of stones and polishing tapes, as well as a ceramic hone. I bought that because I found I simply could not create an unvarying edge by touch. This came in handy when I began buying new carving knives and chisels.

The gouges are still difficult, and I'm looking at curved stones designed for rounded edges. I haven't used oil of any kind for quite some time, just water. I've added some diamond hones and plates to shape edges that have become chipped or excessively worn. They are also useful if I want to turn a jewelers screwdriver or something similar to a mini chisel or parting tool. I appreciate the effect of stropping more now than ever, and have some leather strops, and a leather disk for power drills that I use w. various grades of buffing and polishing compound. I've learned that coarse brown craft paper works quite well by itself for touching up slightly worn edges. I just lay a piece on a piece of marble counter top scrap, and pass the edge across it. It only works for a few passes, but the paper is cheap and plentiful.

I picked up a few cubes of super dense felt. Drawing an edge thru one strips off the "wire."
 

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Flexcut makes a very handy block called the slip strop for sharpening knives and gouges. Have used mine till its about worn out.

I have a set of hard and soft Washita stones for sharpening knives. After sharpening my fillet knives, my various pocket and hunting knives over the years I am proficient at putting a good edge on a blade.

I have touched up my palm gouges with the same flat stones when they get past a simple strop block job. I use round wood dowels of various diameters with compound to work the inside edge of the gouges, but I am wondering if there is a better tool or method?
 

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Forgot if I posted on the other one, but I mainly use stones for roughing/burr removal then switch to wet/dry sand paper 300-2000 too,

I don't "sharpen" unless I see chips or burrs, stropping regularly
 

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Sharpening - a world all on its own. This is one area of carving that most people try anything and everything until you find the system that is right for you. There are no right or wrong ways as long as you finish up with a good sharp tool that does what you want it too, I know for I was once one of those people.

I have purchased most of my carving chisels from car boot sales, country fairs and any other places where second hand tools are obtainable, because of this many of the tools need to be totally re-formed by cutting the sharp end back to base form, I found that this this helped with understanding that the sharpening from scratch system is a 3 stage process.

1 - an initial grinding stage to produce the basic form with a bevel angle to suit the type of carving and material to be caeved, mallet u se and hard woods have differing angles to hand held tools.as at any grinding stage care must be taken not to over heat the tool and

remove its hardness ie. its ability to maintain a sharp edge therefore constant quenching n water is required - if it turns blue too late the tool will need re-hardening and tempering- hardening makes it brittle and prone to breaking, tempering makes it tough and wear resistant. At his stage a narrow flat edge is left at the cutting edge for stage 2

2 - The second stage is to sharpen the tool, this involves removing as many of the initial grinding marks by going down in grit grades and reducing the small flat end to a sharp edge again taking care not to overheat.

3 - the final stage is honing - producing the razor sharp edge and polished surface that allows the tool to slide through the carving with ease.

All the above methods can be done both manually and mechanically depending on how deep your pockets are.

My most recent piece of my sharpening kit is a Koch felt honing wheel and soap for my bench grinder or drill. This felt wheel is described as being Thermoplastic this is ability to deform under load and take the profile shape of the tool the return back to its original form, the soap when applied melts into the wheel and remelts during honing producing a very sharp tool. This was purchased for honing my micro and flexcut chisel, especially the micro veiners and parting tools - I am very satisfied with the results ,a quick tickle on this wheel works wonders.
 

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You may find this interesting It is a description of grit ratings on different stones and diamond plates.

http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Sharpening-Stone-Grit-Chart-W21.aspx
Its good that the description mention the micron size of the abrasive. I have a chart stored that shows different grits scales, unfortunately I did not record who made it, so won't post as I can't give credit. The problem with using grit numbers is that different national agencies and companies use different numbers. There seems to be a fairly wide range of micron sizes for abrasives that can be considered coarse or medium. And when getting down to extra fine honing a few microns can make notable difference
 

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I have used various methods most of which are mentioned above. What I would like to know is; When do you know if your edge is sharp enough? With a knife I shave the hairs on my forearm, this is sharp enough for knives but it is alot more difficult to do with chisels of varying profiles. N.
 

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With a knife a good test is to slice paper hold paper in one hand the paper unsupported an slice (away from your hand) start at handle end and slice withdrawing the blade to its point, if the slice is effortless with no tearing the knife is sharp, doing it this way you can see if tearing, dragging occurs at any part along the blade , this is an area that need a little rework.

with gouges etc. make a cut in wood and inspect the cut it should be free from lines (edge marks) and appear shiny.
 
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