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Sharpening carving tools

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 11-29-2011 11:09 PM 2174 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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newwoodbutcher

552 posts in 2316 days


11-29-2011 11:09 PM

I have purchased a set of Swiss carving tools as a Christmas gift for a friend. He is passionate about learning to carve. He has limited resources. My question: can you recommend an inexpensive method or sharpening system that is easy for a beginner to learn for keeping the tools sharp? I use the the Tormac for grinding and Shapton stones for my chisels and plane irons (I’m sure these are too expensive for him) but I have no experience with sharpening carving chisels. I have seen the slip stones and diamond impregnated grinder wheels advertised but don’t know if that’s the direction I want to send him. I know he will be discouraged if he can’t easily keep the tools sharp. Advice?

-- Ken


8 replies so far

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crank49

3981 posts in 2437 days


#1 posted 11-29-2011 11:37 PM

A tip in one of my woodworking magazines recently suggested wrapping 600 – 1000 grit wet/dry sanding paper around a dowel of proper diameter to hone the inside of gouge type cutters.
Use a spring clip from the office supply, like you clip 1/2” stacks of paper together, to secure the sand paper.

I tried this and it works great on a turning gouge; should be great on a carving chisel.

The same paper works on the outside, flat or convex, surfaces.

One other very useful tool is a buffing wheel on a grinder and some suitable polishing compound. I use ZAM.
You can buy a $40 buffer/grinder combo from HF or similar, or buy a buffing wheel to mount on an existing grinder. Either way we are not talking an investment like diamond hones and Tormek grinders.

One other simple tip I have used is for the outside of gouges and spoon type cutters. That is to use the gouge to cut a flute into a soft board, like pine or fir. Then apply grinding or polishing compound in the flute. Then the flute becomes the hone, perfectly shaped to the outside of the gouge.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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carverdave

8 posts in 2106 days


#2 posted 11-30-2011 06:11 PM

Ken, Swiss Made carving tools come sharp from the manafacture, just a strop with compound is all that’s needed to keep them sharp. As for a great sharpening system, I have this one and love it, http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/classifieds/g5-sharpening-tools.html

Dave

-- Dave C. Wesley Chapel FL.

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DS

2151 posts in 1886 days


#3 posted 11-30-2011 06:35 PM

Unless they get damaged, my Swiss Made gouges only ever see my leather strop.

If you wanna see a grown man cry, put your new Swiss Made gouge on a grinder… (Reminds me of that Bud Light commercial)

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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newwoodbutcher

552 posts in 2316 days


#4 posted 12-01-2011 08:56 AM

Thanks guys,
Sand paper and a leather strop, inexpensive and effective, a great combination

-- Ken

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Woodiewannabe

43 posts in 345 days


#5 posted 01-05-2016 11:54 PM

I’ve been wondering this same thing and I had the same idea-save carving out the area for the gouge face-but had not attempted it yet. I like the spring clip idea and will definitely go that route. I’ve thought of spray glue and sandpaper instead of a compound.
If anyone is still interested in this 5 yr old thread then I will post my results.


A tip in one of my woodworking magazines recently suggested wrapping 600 – 1000 grit wet/dry sanding paper around a dowel of proper diameter to hone the inside of gouge type cutters.
Use a spring clip from the office supply, like you clip 1/2” stacks of paper together, to secure the sand paper.

One other simple tip I have used is for the outside of gouges and spoon type cutters. That is to use the gouge to cut a flute into a soft board, like pine or fir. Then apply grinding or polishing compound in the flute. Then the flute becomes the hone, perfectly shaped to the outside of the gouge.

- crank49

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

892 posts in 2418 days


#6 posted 01-06-2016 12:23 AM

Ken, have your buddy get on youtube and watch some videos. There is a ton of sharpening stuff on there.

-- Mike

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#7 posted 01-06-2016 12:33 PM

They come sharp yes but you need stones to maintain them, not just a strop.
You don’t need expensive sharpening stones like Shaptons. Arkansas stones I find work best for me (translucent and surgical). Water stones will wear quite quickly. Diamond stones are nice, too. Don’t get the mesh plates get solid plates like DiaSharp (1000 and 8000).

You will also need a strop and compound, both flat and profiled. I have the little kit Flex cut makes but not impressed. You can make your own with pieces of leather.

Slip stones: Several kinds (arkansas, water and diamond) I use Arkansas.

More important really than the type of stones is the technique. It really takes some practice to keep from ruining your gouges!

I highly recommend checking out Chris Pye’s videos on sharpening. He give lots of good info on prepping a gouge and making the little homemade strops.

On his website you can subscribe you can cancel after the first month but learn a bunch.
I recently purchased the slipstones Norton makes for him and they are great.

You can also check out Mary May I recently took a class from her she is very good. She has a free video on sharpening.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2227 days


#8 posted 01-06-2016 02:44 PM

NO, no, no to the grinding wheel!!!

Use Arkansas sharpening stones, specifically Arkansas slip stones and files http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Arkansas-Slips-and-Files-C105.aspx to sharpen using a light oil like “3 in1 Oil” on the stones as a lubricant. Follow up with stropping with a leather strop (I use a piece of heavy leather folded in half orwrapped around a dowel to make a nice rounded edge) with some strop abrasive rubbed into the leather http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Green-Honing-Compound-P26.aspx. Keep sharpening and honing until the tool edge will nicely shave the hair off of your forearm. THEN its ready to carve wood! Yes, this takes a little time to learn to do properly, but once properly sharpened all it takes is a little honing from time to time to keep a razor edge.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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