Woodcarvers need to sharpen their knives for a successful and happy carving. Dull knives will never produce clean cuts and may even put your fingers or hands in danger. So, any woodcarver needs to have sharp wood carving knives. You may even ask: “How to sharpen my wood carving knives?” You need proper practice, and you can learn the techniques that this article will provide. Hopefully, what you will learn here will stop you from getting any professional sharpening help in the future for a lesser expense. Read on!
Understanding Your Wood Carving Knife
Mastering how to sharpen a wood carving knife requires you to understand its bevel. What is a bevel? A bevel is the round side of your knife that thins down to the cutting edge of your blade. It is also called a cutting angle, and it can be either long or short—it all depends on the type of wood carving knife you have. Most wood carving knives have straight bevels to give you that efficient cutting and strength to its edge. Back then, when I had started learning how to sharpen my wood carving knives, I had to learn what bevel is all about.
Tools for Sharpening
Before answering the question: “How to sharpen my wood carving knives?” you need to learn the many tools you can use to sharpen it. It can be a flat oil stone or diamond laps. You can even use sandpaper! It all depends on the grit—whether fine or coarse.
This sharpening device works well when you flatten your rounded bevels initially to remove metal and fix broken tips. You can tape sandpaper to dowels or boards and use them to sharpen away from the edge of the blade. You do not want the knife to cut the sandpaper.
Diamond Laps or Flat Oil Stones
Flat oil stones are the most common sharpening device used for carving knives. Diamond laps, on the other hand, are rare but are the best sharpening tools because they come on a wide range of grits. Also, they are more expensive, but they will last you a long time. Using either a diamond lap or flat oil stone, you can sharpen your carving knife in either direction.
Polishing compounds are usually for the final stage of sharpening. They are known as green (or chrome oxide) and black (emery). Green has fine grit, around 2000 grit, while black has a coarse grit, around 800 grit. These compounds are wax-based and easy to use.
Sharpening your Wood Carving Knife
Now it is time to answer your simple question: “How to sharpen my wood carving knives?” Here are some tips and techniques you need to keep in mind:
- First, use a marker to paint the bevel area. Make use of markers that work on metal. Painting the bevel allows you to monitor your progress, especially on the bevel flatness and knife angle. Marking the bevel will also tell you if you are holding your knife at the right angle.
- Second, how to sharpen? You can do it in three simple techniques: one, you can lay the carving knife close to a flat position, but at a slight angle on the stone and then pushing the knife away from you, like you are slicing off a thin layer of the stone; two, with the same blade position, you can drag the carving knife toward you; and three, still the same blade position, make circular motions with the blade.
- Use five strokes to sharpen your wood carving knife. Once all sharpie marks disappear from the cutting edge, this means it is already sharp enough.
- Use the sandpaper, diamond laps, and polishing compound on the blade’s flat surface to sharpen the outer portion of the curve.
- The most important step of sharpening your wood carving knife is maintaining the same angle consistently.
- You can also place a finger behind the blade to add light pressure to the bevel when you sharpen it—be careful not to cut yourself!
Other Tips and Techniques
Also, sharpening your wood carving knives require different techniques. Here are two tips and tricks you can learn to keep your knives sharp and ready to carve:
You usually do leather stropping right after sharpening your carving knife on your stone. You do this by using a thin strip of leather with the fuzzy side and placing little strop abrasive. All you need is to use the back of your knife to rub the abrasive into your leather strop.
To maintain your carving knife’s sharpness, you can use a diamond lap with 1000 grit or more or sandpaper is perfect for leaving a great finish after a few strokes in re-sharpening your wood carving knife. Here’s how to learn more about wood carving knives.
Now you know how to sharpen my wood carving knives. There are various tools you can choose and use—you can either use sandpaper, diamond plates, or flat oil stones. There are also multiple techniques and styles in sharpening your carving knife, like leather stropping or using tools with high grits. Just make sure that you should familiarize yourself with the guidelines and techniques to sharpen your blade successfully. But always remember to be careful in handling sharp objects!