What is the best way to maintain a keen edge on carving tools such as the
gouges, etc.? Back when I was a chef, I never let my knifes get dull.
Everyday I would fine tune them with a few strokes on a hard stone so they
were like a hot knife through warm butter.
Carving chisels are a different thought altogether with the polishing and
mirror finish needed to glide through the wood, not to mention the many
different shapes. Would a minute or two on a power strop be what is needed
to maintain a keen edge? Or, is a stone then polishing required each time?
I just purchased a small sheet of leather and some compound to try out the
old method of stropping without power, which seems that it would be good on
the straight chisels but a pain for the rest.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated on this subject.
There are quite a few specialty stones and hones that are shaped
for gouges. Look at the Lee Valley catalog or Woodcraft catalog and
you'll find all you could ever need.
You could also use short lengths of dowels with PSA-backed
microfinishing film of different grits attached and make your own
hones that way. Just match the dowel approximately to the size of the
gouge and you can sharpen/hone the inside face.
For the outside face, take some scrap pine and use the gouge to cut
the profile into the wood. Take some sharpening/honing compound and
apply it to the profile. Then use that to hone your gouge. You can
do quite a few on one board and then keep that handy while you're
Unless you really screw up and chip an edge, regular honing like
that should be sufficient to keep your tools sharp.
Thank you Chuck, above is what I really needed to hear. I wanted to stay
away from the stones as much as possible (not because I don't know how to
use them), because I want to preserve as much as possible the shapes as I go
through my learning curve to master the art of keeping a keen edge.
Roy Underhill had a professional wood carver who spent a few
minutes on sharpening. He held the tool about 8 inches from
his nose and used small profiled stones freeehand at eye level
so he could see the alignment. He held the stones by their
ends - between thumb and 1st or 2nd fingers. He held the
tool steady and moved the stone. For polishing, he had some
leather sheets with various grooves carved in them to match
the profiles. There were maybe 12 grooves running parallel
in the leather which he charged with polishing compound. He
said that's how he was taught by carvers from the old country.
I have always enjoyed Roy Underhill's show and am sorry that it hasn't been
on where ever I am anymore. I do like the way that things got done in the
old country before we got lazy with "more power," but I am glad that I
didn't live back then without deodorant and other modern niceties.
When wimminz were required to wear 3/4 body suits instead of thong
I'm surprised no one mentioned this yet, so I will. The benchmark standard
is pretty much "The Complete Guide to Sharpening" by Leonard Lee. Widely
available. I think I bought mine at a real bookstore.
He covers every kind of sharpenable except machetes. It's a great book to
have around the shop.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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