Wood Carving – Tips For Sharpening Tools
It is necessary to sharpen all tools after you buy them. They can be rough-sharpened by the dealer when you get them. Even so, you must stone them, hone them, and strop them before you start work.
Good oilstones can be bought from many sources. I have found that a Carborundum stone with a coarse face and a fine face is a good combination.
When I get a new stone I usually soak it in oil. To do this I put the stone in a large-sized tin can such as fruit juices are packed in. Then I fill the can as full as possible with a mixture of light machine oil (automobile oil No. 10) and kerosene about two parts oil to one of the latter. Let the stone soak a couple of days. Turn it end for end and soak it another day.
This soaking lubricates the stone so that steel chips won’t fill the pores of the stone as you use it.
A few drops of the same oil on the face of the stone keeps the pores open and floats off the chips.
The few drops of oil while you are using the stone prolongs its life, prevents it from getting glazed, and makes it cut faster. All stones otherthan hones, which are fine grained natural stones, are better off for this same treatment.
You will need slips of various shapes. These are smaller stones-artificial, specially shaped to fit the cutting edges of your tools. They are essential parts of your kit and care should be used to prevent breaking or marring the sharp profiles.
Hones should be lubricated with water or saliva.
In sharpening tools, time and care will do a better job than brute strength and awkwardness. Hold the tool on the stone so that the heel of the tool touches the face of the stone in its entirety.
Keep your chisel at 30 degrees and move your chisel blade in a “figure of eight” movement up and down the stone, this will ensure a nicely sharpened blade.
This is important. Nothing is harder to use than a tool on which the heel has been rounded through careless sharpening. I have found that on straight edged tools chisels, straight and skew, and parting tools the best way to bring up an edge is to pass the tool along the oilstone by pushing it forward.
Don’t try to rotate the tool on the face of the stone until you have become expert at the job. You may round over the corners and that spoils the tool for its designed cut. After the tool has been edged, reverse it and pass the face of the tool—that is, the flat side of a chisel, the reverse side of a skew across the stone to remove the burr or wire edge. Then hone the tool on the wet stone the same way.
Don’t try to hurry the process. There are no short cuts. The finished edge, after honing, should be stropped on leather.
Stropping consists of passing the tool across a leather face. I use a piece of sole leather about 10 inches long, 4 inches wide, with one edge chamfered. Mount this on a 2-inch block, with brads driven into the four corners and set below the face of the strop.
Load the strop with lapping compound (Carborundum flour, No. 400 grit) . Keep the tool on the wet stone the same way. Don’t try to hurry the process. There are no short cuts. The finished edge, after honing, should be stropped on leather.
Keep the strop moist with oil and, in stropping, put the heel of the tool on the strop and pull toward you. If it is a gouge, rotate the tool from side to side as you pull. Don’t push, or you will cut the leather. Use the same procedure on all faces of the cutting edges that can be brought to bear on the leather. Half a dozen strokes ought to be enough if the sharpening and honing have been done properly.
By the time you have sharpened your tools you have learned that it isn’t the easiest part of the business. Therefore, keep in mind the fact that you don’t want to repeat the process. The answer: don’t put your tools down on the bench where the fine edge that you’ve developed can touch any other tool or metal. Don’t try to overdrive the tool into hard stock; you’ll fracture its edge.
I have made a bench tray that I find most useful and I have developed the knack of putting my edged tools back in the tray after I have used them.
Keep the tools in your chest when you don’t want to use them. Take out only those tools you think you want for that particular day’s work. Don’t have too many tools lying about on the top of your bench. If you hit the edge of a tool against another, take time out to resharpen it on the theory that it’s nicked. You’ll learn; it probably is.
If you need a sharpening stone, this is one I would recommend, as it is very competitively priced and great quality as well as being very durable:
Bora 501098 Fine/Coarse Combination Sharpening Stone, Green Silicon
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