reading the favorite woodcarving magazines, you
might think that you need expensive Japanese water
stones, perfectly machined flat diamond plates,
complicated motorized sharpening setups and the
patience of a zen master.
is not true!
knew a man who carried his sharpening kit in an
envelope! He would sit at his table at the beginning
of the carving club meeting, pull out his cloth
backed 600 grit wet sandpaper and a strop and sharpen
as he listened to the business end of the meeting.
By the time the carving part of the meeting started
he had a razor sharp knife.
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. All totaled up, less that ten dollars
worth of equipment.
on how damaged your blade is, you will use a 400
grit wet sandpaper laid on a flat surface such as
the edge of the table or a smooth board. Place the
blade edge down and drag it across the wet surface
of the paper at an eleven degree angle. Right now
you thinking an eleven degree angle? What does an
eleven degree angle look like?
are two ways to find this out. Take a post-it note,
fold it corner to corner to give you a triangle.
Take the newly formed folded edge and fold it again
to the bottom. You now have a twenty two and a half
degree triangle. Fold it again and now you have
a Eleven and a quarter degree triangle. Close enough.
The top edge of the triangle represents your blade
and the bottom of the triangle represents your sharpening
the simple way,
If your carving blade is three quarters of and inch
in width or more, lay your blade flat on the sharpening
surface and raise the spine of the blade until you
can fit the edge of a nickel under it. If it is
less than three quarters of an inch, use a dime.
Now drag the edge along the wet sandpaper surface
at your eleven degree angle until all the nicks
are gone and you have a smooth edge. Move on to
a 600 grit wet sandpaper and do the same thing on
you will load your cardboard or leather up with
your white aluminum oxide to the point that it will
not absorb any more compound. You may use some light
oil to help this process to create a paste-like
consistency. Wipe your blade clean of any sandpaper
residue with a cloth. You do not want to get any
grit on your strop.
drag your knife edge along this strop at the same
11 degree angle, and continue equally on both sides
until you get a mirrored edge.
test your edge to see if you still have any nicks,
LIGHTLY and slowly, drag the edge of your knife
across the surface of your thumbnail. If you have
any nicks, you will feel the edge catch on your
nail. If you feel any nicks, go back to the sandpaper
again, then strop.
test. Take your knife and carve across the end grain
of a piece of your favorite carving wood. After
taking this slice, you should see a smooth shiny
surface and the end grain clearly. If you see a
white line in your slice, you have a nick in your
edge. You need to go back and start the process
you are done with your sandpaper, wash it off with
water and dish detergent. And your paper will last
longer. Keep your strop clean. That nice surface
you have created loves to attract sand and dirt.
you have the edge you like on your knife, all you
should have to do is protect your edge when you
are not using your knife with some plastic tubing
over your blade edge, and strop often, say every
fifteen minutes or so.
whole point of this article is that you do not need
a lot of stones etc. to achieve the perfect cutting
edge. Enjoy your wood carving knives.
to Sharpen your Bent Knife, Spoon Knife, etc.
This is an easy and inexpensive way to sharpen
any knife that is curved.
up a newspaper to the diameter of the inside of
the knife. Now, place some 600-800 grit sandpaper
along the curve of the newspaper. With a sort of
filing action, "file" the knife edge.
Then place the sandpaper on the opposite side of
the newspaper and "file" the other side
of your knife.
Rub buffing compound on the newspaper and use as
you would a strop.