How To Sharpen Carving Chisels
Well-sharpened tools are crucial for every woodcarver. These tools guarantee that your projects and works will be flawless. Sharpening wood carving tools depend on the woodcarver himself. Those who have been working long in the field have their way of maintaining the sharpness of their tools. However, if you are just starting with your wood carving journey, sticking to the traditional techniques will serve useful. How to sharpen carving chisels is a basic dilemma for new woodcarvers. But worry not, this article will guide you on the step-by-step process to do it correctly.
How to sharpen carving chisels starts with sharpening. It is the process of sanding your chisel's edge. However, it is expected not to get a perfect edge for actual use. This is why you need to do the second step, which is honing. During this process, you are setting the edge of your chisel to make it sharp enough to cut through wood. If you want to further refine your chisel's edge, then you may proceed with stropping. Stropping makes your tool smooth enough for excellent woodwork. These steps are the basics of how to sharpen carving chisels.
If your carving chisel has worn or chipped edges, you need to straighten up the edges first before proceeding to the first step on how to sharpen carving chisels. This process isn’t required all the time. But if you feel that your chisel is failing, then go ahead and give your chisel a nice sharpening. Here’s what you need to do:
- A horizontal belt with 150 grit disk is the ideal sander to use for this operation. If you prefect power sanders, you may do so. However, be extremely cautious to avoid any untoward incidents.
- Use cold water and dip the blade constantly to prevent overheating.
- After straightening up the edge, you will have a chisel with a roughly sharp edge. The next step is to use a 320 grit aluminum oxide horizontal belt sander.
- Keep the water container close to keep dipping the edge as you progress. Carving tools such as chisels and other parting tools are sharpened right over the platen, with the edge of your tool directly vertical to the belt's direction. You can use both sides of the sander to sharpen your carving chisels. On the other hand, gouges and parting tools are sharpened on one side only.
After sharpening your chisel, the next step is honing. This process will make your blade sharp enough to cut through your wood. You can utilize sharpening stones or sandpaper to complete this step.
Most woodworkers use four types of stones to perform honing. The most common are oil stones. It utilizes oil as a lubricant to prevent fine metal particles from accumulating in the stone's surface during sharpening. On another note, some carvers use water stones for honing. Furthermore, ceramic and diamond stones are also popularly used since they don't need lubricants. Diamond stones are generally used to sharpen carbide wood carving tools.
How to sharpen carving chisels through honing is pretty simple:
- Grind the edge across the stone of your choice, one side, then the other, until you've come up with a fine sharp edge.
- For gouges, start with the nearest side down on the far side of the paper, and grind the gouge toward you while at the same time rolling it. Continue this process until you end up with the far side of the gouge down on the adjacent side of the stone. A 600 or 800 grit stone is ideal for initial work, then and work your way up to the highest grit available.
The final step on how to sharpen carving chisels is stropping. An idea strop is equipped with two sides, a rough leather and a smooth hide side. Here’s how to properly use it:
- Rub in a good layer of strop compound on your rough leather. Many different strop compounds are available in the market, though, they usually are included when purchasing a strop.
- Lay your chisel to the strop's surface, and using a pulling motion, cut the edge using nice long strokes. In this process, you will lose all the tin edge and smoothen out your tool.
- Flip the strop over and work your chisel across the smooth leather side. This step will give your device a more polished look.
You can tell if the tin edge is gone by looking down at the blade edge. If you can still see a distinct shiny line along with it, then you still have the tin edge. However, if the blade edge has no shine, that means you've completed the process, and you've learned how to sharpen carving chisels, giving you a razor-sharp tool for your woodcarving works.
Learning how to sharpen carving chisels is an integral ability required for all woodcarvers. This skill will enable you to maximize the use of your tools without the need to purchase a new set often. The three basic steps presented are a breeze to follow and guaranteed to work every time. Carefully heeding the steps will get you a sharp and workable tool in no time.
October 9, 2020
By: Alicia Kinsley
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