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  • Sharpening

    Greetings from mid-Michigan!

    I have recently decided to try my hand at carving. For my first project, I chose to carve the snowman pin which appears in the Holiday issue of Wood Carving Illustrated, page 52. I selected a piece of what I was certain was 1/2' basswood. I had also purchased a copy of the book. 'First Projects For Woodcarvers' by Larry Green & Mike Altman, which spends some time explaining the process for correctly sharpening tools. I kept in mind the warning the authors issued: 'Most new carvers do not continue the sharpening process until the wire edge appears.' I used a diamond coated sharpening stone, followed by a power strop. I honestly thought that I had acheived the 'wire-edge' result described in the book, yet when I began to work on the project, the wood came off in great 'chunks', rather than the curled shavings I had anticipated. This was particularly true in areas where I was attempting to round over edges. Small details (such as the snowman's thumbs) broke away as I was working to shape them. Was my knife not sharpened correctly? Did I have material that was possibly something other than what I thought it was? What do you think?
    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Sharpening

    One possibility here - that has nothing to do with the condition of your blade - is that your pattern was laid out on the 'cross-wise' grain of the wood. The pattern must almost always be laid out so the grain of the wood runs up and down, from top to bottom, of the pattern, or the results you describe will happen when you try to carve the wood.
    --------------------
    After you finish sharpening a blade always test it on a scrap of wood to see if you've achieved the edge you need.

    A 'wire edge' is easy to feel with the tip of your finger so you can't miss it. Maybe with a power strop you wore away too much metal and rounded over the blade. You might have beter luck with a flat leather strop.
    But, you're listening to the lousiest sharpener in the world ... I'm certain some smarter people will answer soon

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    • #3
      Re: Sharpening

      : I think you covered it, Nancy. I might add that I quit using my power strop a long time ago. If you hold the tool so that the edge drags, your fine sharpening job is ruined. I use only hand stones and flat leather strops. I find that a soft arkansas stone followed by a hard arkansas stone works well to sharpen. I prefer to use a silicon carbide paste on the rough side of a leather strop, followed by Yellowstone powder on the smooth side of a leather strop. It seems to work well for me. The diamond stones are a bit too agressive for me to use by hand.

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      • #4
        Re: Sharpening

        Some people refer to their gouges as knives and if you're having trouble with your V-gouge plowing instead of cutting, it probably needs a diamond shaped flat honed & stropped on the bottom. Just enough to get rid of that nasty little point that juts out ahead of the two cutting edges. Pineyknot.

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        • #5

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          • #6
            Re: Sharpening

            Moon, maybe you need to start using snipewood!!!

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            • #7

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              • #8
                Re: Sharpening

                I have been using tripoli for several years with no complaints. I recently bought a stick of Yelloswstone and it works well too but I find it a bit dificult to get it worked into (on to?) the strop.

                Dave

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                • #9
                  Re: Sharpening

                  I use a silicon carbide paste that I bought from Cape Forge. It works very well, but leaves a dull shine on the blade. I finish with Yellowstone applied to another strop for a bright, smooth surface. Jewellers rouge works well for this also.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Sharpening

                    I too use a power strop but as it has been said, you can take the edge right back off with one. You must have the right angle and maintain it the whole time that you are stropping, even with a hand strop.
                    Also, you must cut 'in 'to the wood,when rounding over the wood. Meaning, if the grain is up and down and you are going to have to cut across grain to round over, then start from the outer edge and work in. If you don't ,then when you get to the unsupported edge, more than likely it will 'break out in great big chunks' like you said it did.
                    You may also be trying to remove to much wood in one cut, try making smaller cuts and see if that helps.
                    grumpy560

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                    • #11
                      Re: Sharpening

                      Hi everyone.

                      I'm just starting to carve and am having a rough time finding tools and the right tools also.
                      I have small gouges and v tools.
                      What do you all use on the inside edges of your gouges?

                      Do you all use leather? Stones?

                      Also having trouble finding bass wood.
                      I'm using poplar now.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Sharpening

                        Here's thought; you may have a very sharp edge but maybe the BEVEL is too steep. I've found that about a 15 degree bevel or slightly less makes for smooth cuts. If the bevel gets much steeper, the blade tends to plow through the wood like a splitting maul or splitting axe.

                        As far as stropping goes, I use a flat leather strop, charged with common jewelers rouge. I've also recently started using Flitz polishing compound on the strop. Amazing stuff for a lot of fine polishing tasks!

                        Al

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                        • #13
                          Re: Sharpening

                          awhile back I said I was having trouble getting yellowstone compound on my strop. I recently talked to a guy that was having the same problem untill he talked to a guy that said he needed to use it on a new strop cause it wouldn't go on over the old compound. He told me that since he has been putting it on a new strop and loves it. Off I go to find a piece of leather.

                          Dave

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                          • #14
                            Re: Sharpening

                            Macs,
                            You can buy stones called 'slips' or 'slipstones' that are shaped to touch up the insides of your tools. You can also use the corner of a leather strop. What ever you use, do it gently, moving the stone away from tool handle. Moving the stone toward the handle end can result in destroying the edge if the stone hits the edge at an angle. Check out one of the carving supply sites to find the slips.
                            Good luck!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Sharpening

                              Al Archie, that's a good point, no pun intended. Until recently, I didn't measure the angle on most of my tools. After noticing how some tools seemed so much better than others, I checked the angles and found them all over the map. Since then, I bought a Tormek and started regrinding my tools to uniform angles. Now I don't have just one or two favorite tools (always the sharpest!). We shouldn't take for granted that we only need to hone tools when we buy them. Even some I bought from carving instructors were way too steep to use. You can't go overboard and put a knife edge on a gouge, since it will dull too quickly, but 15 degrees for basswood or butternut sure makes carving a dream.

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