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Does anyone know anything about sharpening wood carving tools?

I found a youtube of a person sharpening these tools with a whetstone which I have. But I tried sharpening and it is still dull. I am going to try again later, but I already tried sharpening for about 10 minutes.

Comments

  • Without knowing exactly how you have been going about it, I would say that it probably will just take longer than 10 minutes. The duller the knife, the longer it will take. Make sure to use a rough stone at first to get rid of any dings and dents in the blade. This will take a while if it is in bad shape. Once the dings and dents are gone, switch over to a finer stone. They come in lots of different grits. Progress toward using finer and finer grits. Keep the blade at a consistent angle with steady consistent pressure as you sharpen it.

    Depending on the tool you are sharpening, you can get a jig to help sharpen it. The jig is a little device that will hold the blade at just the right angle so it is very easy to move it back and forth along the stone at the same angle and pressure. They are quite helpful.

    Test out the sharpness of the blade on the back of your fingernail. If it is sharp, the blade will catch on the nail and wont slide across it.

    After sharpening for a while, there may be a burr on the blade (a bit of metal that is hanging off to one side). You will need to look closely to see it. Do a final few light passes on each side (with a very fine stone) to get rid of this burr.

    Hope this helps.
    person
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Thanks. I was using a curved tool and the middle part looked thin but the sides fat. So I was changing the angle hoping to catch the sides. I only have 1 whetstone I might need to buy another. Thanks.
  • Ah, yes, the curved blades get tricky, and you may need to change the angle a bit.

    Happy carving!
    Jeffrey
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    So frustrating. It seems impossible but I know others have been able to get their tools sharp so it stands to reason that if I keep trying I will as well.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    A tool dulled at the wrong angle may need to be first "sharpened" on a coarse grit stone, then "sharpened" on a fine grit stone. The coarse stone will give you a shape to an edge, the fine stone will hone the edge or or sharpen just the edge. Often a edge with a burr will seem sharp for a short time then suddenly dull. A real fine grit will remove a burr for you. My dad passed on to me a set of honing stones and some stainless steel and also some ceramic sharpening rods which worked to handle curves.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    I have two rods. Are they fine or course?? They are metal. I made a carving with my jack knife of a rocket and thought the rods were sanding tools to sand the wood haha.. A challenging start, but I will persist.

    What degree angle should I be at?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 2013
    Rods??
    No.
    You need proper whetstones, of different grades.....

    And definitely, for curved blades, some kind of jig or implement designed to hold the tool at the correct angle...the angle depends on the tool....

    My ex-H had a complete toolkit of carpenter's tools: They had belonged to his Great-grandfather, and although many of the tools were quite worn (Some of the blades had been sharpened down to capacity!) they were all still lethally sharp, because my H had learnt how to keep them in optimum condition, taught by his father, and by his grandfather too...

    It takes a lot of practice and patience to get them right....
    Jeffrey
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    It's almost an art to learn an art. You have to enjoy the process the steps along the way. With painting I was self taught and it really threw me off having to learn techniques when I needed to go to the next level and I got judgmental. For carving (or if I go back to painting) I want to mindfully enjoy the process as much as I did as when self-teaching painting.

    Now.... if I can just get these blades sharp!

    On topic, @federica, what do you suppose the rods are for? Perhaps they ARE for sanding the wood?? I definitely have a regular whetstone, at least, though I don't know relatively how course.
    Beej
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    I have two rods. Are they fine or course?? They are metal. I made a carving with my jack knife of a rocket and thought the rods were sanding tools to sand the wood haha.. A challenging start, but I will persist.

    What degree angle should I be at?

    For a jack knife blade, it should be a 10-15 degree angle from the blades flat slope to stone flat surface (old memory from Boy Scouts and teachings from dad). Whetstones are better for a jackknife, yes federica, the flat sided ones.

    Federica, a curved surface whetsone with a curve matching curve of tool is ideal if reasonably fine, yes. For me, as plebian knife sharpener, I use flat stones and a ceramique rod pair starpening thing-- two ceramique rods, each with artificial diaomond chips embedded in it. Grandpa used a stainless steel sharpening rod on his Solengin steel meat carving knife he passed it on to Dad, who passed it on to the youngest son of the family who was a chef.

    @Jeffery, coarser stones will have a look like sandy, not purely in color but in gritinessy look. The finest stones look like real fine sand to powder finer than average sand. Carborundum stones will be grey looking. Carborundum stones are the most common sharpening stones in US now. the finer the stone, the longer it takes to sharpen things with, which is why folks frequently get a coarser whetstone. I am talking grittiness, looks, federica calls this grade or class of fineness of stone, AFAIK.


  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    @Jeffrey, rod files for sanding/shaping wood in curves have cross-hatched "teeth". Rod files for sharpening have angled to length or straight-with-length sharp ridges. Metal cutting rods have no crosshatchings.

    HTH.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Cool, my uncle showed me how to sharpen the tools, we got it mostly sharpened. Only thing is my previous efforts disbalanced the tip of the tool and I will have to square it off and start again. But he showed me a method so that is good. He also told me about a business in wood carving where he has taken some classes before so maybe I can do a beginner course?
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    For the record Jeffrey....I can't wait to see your first project!

    (It won't be near as bad as the first cup I made in pottery class)
    hahaha....Who says you need a handle going exactly up and
    down? I was never one to conform, anyway...hahaha

    Good luck and keep at it!
    Jeffrey
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    Cool, my uncle showed me how to sharpen the tools, we got it mostly sharpened. Only thing is my previous efforts disbalanced the tip of the tool and I will have to square it off and start again. But he showed me a method so that is good. He also told me about a business in wood carving where he has taken some classes before so maybe I can do a beginner course?

    Hand's on seeing someone do it, then with guidance doing it is best way. Beginner's course would be worthwhile, probably.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Progress on my jack knife edge. Still not razor sharp, but a huge improvement. Now I need to be very careful. I ordered a kevlar glove to protect the hand that holds the wood.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    Best of metta with your carving and being careful.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Oh yes, I had a sobering cut of my finger. Not a bad cut, just enough to scare me. Man I'm waiting for my cut resistant glove before further efforts.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    I have the glove and a broad tip sharpie to mark on the cutting edge of the tool. That way I know if I am sharpening in the right spot..

    Does anyone know 'how sharp is sharp'? Like what the tool should be able to do? I am starting on a flat chisels. It is sharp enough to dig right into the flat wood if I am careful, but it just digs a very small amount away. Should I be able to scoop like ice cream? I tried doing a cut with a guiding cut. The guiding cut is 90 degrees into the wood. Then you make a cut and it should stop at the guide. But my chisel I have to put pressure on to cut and it often blazes right through the guiding cut without stopping there.

    So the question is 'how sharp is sharp'?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    sharp is sharp when you can cut a sheet of paper edge on, without even pushing on the blade...
    Sharp is is sharp that the cut is deep but for a second or two, you don't even feel pain.

    At first.
    Jeffrey
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    @Jeffrey- i love how you said that it is an art to learn an art....... its an art to even speak about art. :)
    Jeffrey
  • @jeffrey the way I like to test sharpness is on the back on my fingernail. it should stick into your fingernail with simply the weight of the tool being pulled down by gravity. if it slides on your fingernail rather than sticks into it, it it not sharp.
    Jeffrey
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