In these pages I present a discussion on sharpening and modification of gouges, also known as linoleum cutters or cutters for block printing. The best priced dealer that I have found for Spyderco ceramics is not a carving supplier at all but The Cutlery Shoppe in Meridian Idaho (you might have to search through their sharpening products-they have a lot). No real surprise here, carving chisels are the main tools used to carve wood if you’re doing it with hand tools. Degree of the tool against the stone or sandpaper is something that is opened to debate.
Outfitting yourself with a respected motorized system is a significant step up in cost, but if you are a serious hand tool user, and like to keep all of your expensive cutting tools in top condition, the added cost may turn out to be a bargain in the long run. With high-section, deep-fluted tools like a #11 gouge, you will have to split the task into three actions, the two sides and the middle section. Most often, I use a 6″ leather clad (face and both sides) wheel on a hand crank grinder.
Like a lot of luthiers I have a horizontal belt sander, and mine has a small disk sander on it. The disk sander with a 150 grit disk works great for straightening the edges of the gouges. I haven’t done much carving but I like to use the V-Carving Chisel (105 degrees exterior bevel) to clean corners and confined spaces of joinery. INSPECTING YOUR GOUGE: If we could presume that your gouge was properly shaped at the factory, we could proceed directly to sharpening.
The one that will work out best for you depends on the type of woodworking you do most, the type of tools you need sharpen, the amount of time you want to spend sharpening, and the amount you want to invest in a sharpening system. Now this isn’t rocket science, so a degree or two off won’t blast your carving skills out of orbit. Who knows, if you sharpen them, they might work but it is a lot of work and requires proper tools and skill. Go through successive grits, as you would when sharpening your other bench tools.
Step 1. Rough stock removal, such as remove nicks, change the bevel, and reshape the profile with a coarse stone or sandpaper (100 to 300 grit) or grinding wheels (80 to 120 grit). When sharpening gouges, it is important that the shaft of the tool is kept at a constant 90Â° to the stone during honing. Harbor Freight Tools sells a couple of models, including some with three or four grits on the same block. Again, keep the edge wet to avoid burning the temper out of it. You want to establish a nice clean edge here, but you can put off making it seriously sharp until the honing operation.
Notice I keep a rag hanging on the table to wipe off the tool after sharpening so that I don’t get any grit from the buffing wheel on the wood. My monthly newsletter announces upcoming video lessons, carving tips and tricks, a free template and class schedule. I can actually let my mind wander around a number of carving projects and problems while I am honing my carving gouges and chisels on my black arkansas stone! Although it is slower, you can even forgo the leather and just do this with a flat piece of wood or cardboard and the green compound.
Power grinders are not recommended for sharpening carving edges as they remove too much material too quickly (causing excessive wear and blade damage) and will change the temper of the steel. There may be other reasons your tools dull prematurely, such as a tool gets magnetized and metal shavings stick to the cutting edge and quickly dull it. Abrasive dust in your shop, like the dust from stone carving, will quickly dull your tools. I saw this reply you made, and only being in carving about a year, it sparked my interest, as I was thinking of trying the Japanese Water stones.
The top edge of the triangle represents your blade and the bottom of the triangle represents your sharpening surface. As many theories and techniques are used in sharpening as there are in carving the human face. Sharpening by hand is of course the traditional method for getting a good edge. The techniques once mastered are directly transferable to all other woodworking tools.
They are willing to give up a little speed in honing for less maintenance/replacement of their stones. Carving tools are almost always sharpened from the outside; the inside edge is usually the cutting edge. In this article we are using the term sharpening to cover those operations that establish the cutting edge of a tool, but that probably leave the edge not actually sharp enough to use. In general, sharpening stones can be divided into three basic groups: oilstones, water stones, and diamond stones. It solved all the problems I was having with the plastic General Sharpening Jig and then some.
To get the best edge on a carving knife that will be used to carve some of the softer woods such as Basswood, Tupelo, and Butternut you will use some cloth backed wet sand paper, a heavy piece of leather or gray tablet cardboard and some Aluminum oxide buffing compound. There is one other thing you might want to make use of, and that’s a grinder of some sort or another. What’s important here is that it have a razor-sharp edge; a sharp edge is essential to make your gouge better rather than worse when sharpening. Most new tools are rough ground or finish honed with an angle of 19 to 23 degrees, with sharp corners and straight bevels.
The most common material for a strop is leather, but the buffing compound can be applied to other materials, such as cardboard, paper, canvas, felt, or wood. Okay Mr. Ferry, I’ll be back tomorrow and you can explain what apples and oranges have to do with sharpening. Step 2. Use a medium/fine stone or sandpaper (400 to 1000 grit) to smooth the deep scratches from step 1. Any medium or fine stone will work. Gouges really are very different to chisels where three angles take care if everything pretty much; paring chisels from 20-25 degrees, regular chisels 25-30 degrees and mortise chisels 30 to 35 degrees. For the tools with straight edges the dragging motion is done perpendicular to the edge of the tool.
Due to the cushioning effect of the wood or leather strop, each time the tool is stropped, the edge becomes slightly rounded. Great care must be exercised when working wood with an angle grinder as they run at very high speeds and remove material extremely quickly, and make sure to wear eye protection (a full-face mask is recommended instead of just safety glasses) and some form of hearing protection for personal safety. Frequent honing will keep the tool sharp but will also begin building a shoulder. You must then hone it flat again (600-1200 diamond stone works well for this purpose, 1200 if only a very small amount of honing is required).
The Scary Sharp ™ system is certainly the most affordable of sharpening systems, and many woodworkers swear by it for sharpening bench chisels, plane irons and the like. I know people that have been carving longer than I have (eight years) that still have problems with sharpening. Learning to sharpen carving tools takes time, patience and practice, much like carving.
So be prepared for some sticker shock when shopping around for hand tools for carving from established, name-brand, makers. This lays down the groundwork for the great edges that I achieve but obviously they will need touching up as the tools are used. I also keep a soft wheel on the buffer to lightly touch up the inside edges of gouges. I use a soft and hard Arkansas slip (in addition to my regular bench stones) to shape the bevel and a strop charged with honing compound to polish and maintain. Plan to spend a significant amount of time shaping and sharpening them before use.
Once you get good, you can eventually move onto to using Arkansas slip stones and water stones to sharpen gouges and stuff like that, but it will take a few years before that possibility materializes. I do this with a bit of 320 grit sandpaper rolled around a small length of dowel of appropriate diameter for the gouges, and a small block of wood for the parting tools. Fine Woodworking Tools and Supplies at Highland Woodworking – make us your woodworking tool supply source.
That notwithstanding, we’d like to mention one relative newcomer: the Work Sharp Sharpening System Available in two models, the Work sharp is (in a sense) a hybrid of the Scary Sharp system and a motorized sharpener; it has a couple of features that you don’t see every day. Or whenever a tool is not a pleasure to use and home sharpening does not improve its performance. A shorter bevel works better with harder wood and a longer bevel works better with softer woods.
If the wire edge is reluctant to release, gently rub the edge across a piece of scrap wood to help it break off (see gallery image 23). I want to show you my technique for how to sharpen carving chisels and corner chisels. As used here, the term honing means to get the established edge sharp enough for actual use, and polishing means to further refine the edge to the point where it is better and smoother. Ink up the bevel and using your honing techniques, hone/polish the bevel to a mirror finish (see gallery image 25). Customers often tell me that my tools are the sharpest that they have ever used.
I have to be able to demonstrate so used it for some very worn out and rough edged gouges and plane irons. During this course, students will take sequential steps and learn the methods and techniques that are required to carve and understand the nature of wood. The one thing I like about them is the fact that all four sides of the stones have profiles and as such the same slip can be used on multiple gouges.
Note: in addition to the carving tools themselves some sharpening equipment is a must. When stropping flat-ground tools like the Harley knife, lay the tool flat on the leather strop, polishing the whole surface with solid pressure. In more than 25 years as a full-time wood carver, David Sabol has created life-like animals and birds, beautiful landscapes, festive Christmas ornaments, stunning storybook characters, and distinctive signs for business and historical sites.