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  • Another Newbie Sharpening Question

    I've been carving a few months now and finally bought a decent knife and some other basic tools. They came finely honed but have lost that razor sharp edge. Do you go back to the stone every time it dulls or is there an easy way to get the edge back? I don't trust my ability yet to keep the beveled angle the same if I have to start from scratch with a sharpening stone.

  • #2
    Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

    You need a leather strop and some polishing compound. I carve for awhile and then run the knife on the strop several times...I don't wait until the knife is dull...a dull knife will cut you faster than a sharp one, because you have to push harder and it is uncontrollable. That is a lot of words for 'buy a leather strop'

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    • #3
      Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

      Kim,

      You definitely need a strop and polishing abrasive. You can either buy one or make one from a piece of leather and a board. Polishing compounds can be bought at auto supply stores (valve lapping compound), truck stops (wheel polishing sticks), and, naturally, can also be bought or ordered from carving supply stores.

      You also might want to glue a piece of 1500-2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper onto a piece of glass or a smooth, hard, board for honing.

      Good whittlin, Cliff
      Charles City, Iowa
      http://cliffordparker.tripod.com

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      • #4
        Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

        Thanks much for the replies, especially the explanation on what the polishing abrasive/compound was. I couldn't quite figure out where to buy it or what to ask for.

        Another newbie question for you, if you've read this far... I've registered on the site but can't seem to stay logged in when I try posting. What's the trick to posting under my user name?

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        • #5
          Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

          Best bet for logging on is to go to your desktop and check under, and lower the security level. You may have to change a setting to accept cookies, too.

          Al

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          • #6
            Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

            Thanks, AlArchie. For Internet Explorer users having the same problem, you can take the following steps:

            Go to Tools, Internet Options..., Privacy tab, and move the slider all the way down to 'Accept All Cookies'.

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            • #7
              Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

              You can keep medium security and still stay on! Take it from someone that was a 'guest' for almost a year! Sorry I didn't explain the honing compound better...Flexcut has a kit with a felt like material with the different shapes for chisels and knives and a yellow honing stick...I have that, but I still use my leather strop I made and attached to a piece of 3/8 plywood.

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              • #8
                Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                Welcome Kim, good to have you with us! A good 'reference point' for stropping is about every twenty minutes. Carve that long then strop a few times, it really will keep your knife sharp. I have made it a habit, also I always leave time at the end of the day, when I'm finishing up carving, to run my knives across a piece of 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, then strop. That way I'm always ready when I start the next time. Good luck, be careful (you do have a glove and thumb guard, don't you??) and we'll look forward to seeing some pictures of your work someday! Callynne
                http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/AlbumList?u=4055528

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                • #9
                  Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                  '... run my knives across a piece of 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, then strop. ' -Callynne

                  Sorry for sounding so ignorant, but do you run the knives across the sandpaper with no lubricant (oil, water, etc.)? And when you strop, do you always use a polishing compound?

                  I do own a glove and thumb guard after learning the hard way. Let's just say I'm glad bone's harder to cut through than basswood.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                    Kim,
                    Sharpening is still harder for me than doing the actual carving. But here's a hint that Phil Bishop, the caricature carver, shared with me and I've modified it a bit to make it work for me.

                    I bought a sheet of plexiglass at a hobby store and used 3M spray adhesive to adhere 4 progressively finer pieces of wet-or-dry sandpaper, starting with about 800, then 1,000, then 1,500, and finishing up with 2,000. I used a jigsaw to cut it in pieces about 2' by 6'. I keep one set in my carving tool box and another set on the table next to my carving chair. I also got some 3M abrasive film (self-adhesive) and harder to find than wet or dry, but really good stuff, and made another set using it. You can drill a hole in the corner and keep them together with a ring or chain.

                    When I'm carving a lot, I strop my knives (and gouges and v-tools) 6-8 strokes on each one, starting with the low number and working up to the high number. This keeps them razor sharp with a minimum of effort.

                    Just another way to keep the tools sharp.

                    Donna T

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                    • #11
                      Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                      Thanks Donna T, you answered better than I could have, I'll be off to the store this weekend looking for plexaglass, self adhesive and progressive grades of wet/dry sandpaper! I've just used the 2000 grit, I can definitely see where using the progressive ones would really do the trick!
                      Kim, you don't use any lubricant on the sandpaper. Another thing that I didn't know when I started out I'll pass along, in case you don't know it either. When you are sharpening you push the tool away from you. When you strop you pull the tool towards you.
                      I'm glad to hear you're using the glove and guard, I learned the hard way too!! Better safe than sorry!! Callynne
                      http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/AlbumList?u=4055528

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                      • #12
                        Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                        This may be just a technical blurb, but that really isn't sandpaper, is it? Wouldn't that be emery cloth, or emery paper? At least that's what I use. I know you can find it in the 'sandpaper' department in most hardware stores, but regular sandpaper isn't very good at cutting metal, and the grit comes off the paper more easily than emery.

                        Maybe this was described somewhere earlier, and I just missed it, but anyone trying this for the first time could be dissappointed if they went with even the best grade of sandpaper.

                        Al

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                        • #13
                          Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                          Kim - As you've probably noticed, there's more than one way to get a sharp tool! Might I suggest that you buy a copy of 'On the Cutting Edge A Woodcarver's Guide to Sharpening' by Loren Moseley. If you have trouble finding it, LIttleShavers (206)767-7421 stocks it for a little over $10 plus shipping. It might help you see through the fog. The only other advice I have is strop, strop, strop and strop some more. Don't every put a tool away without stropping it (even if you didn't use it).

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                          • #14
                            Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                            Just for info. the 3M self-adhesive abrasive film that Donna refered to can be purchased at Lee Valley. It comes in a range of grits with the finest being 0.5 micron. Check out their online cat. at www.leevalley.com.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Another Newbie Sharpening Question

                              Hey Bandaid,
                              Thanks for the info on the film. Sometimes I can't find it around here and it is super for the little stropping/plexiglass 'thingies' that I make. I'll look them up.

                              And yes, I suppose it isn't really sandpaper. I just consider all of it that comes in sheets and is an abrasive as some sort of sandpaper.

                              Donna T

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