Sharpening Wood Carving Tools
The wood carving hobby becomes more and more difficult as your tools start feeling the pressures of wear & tear. Overtime sharpening wood carving tools becomes a necessity, especially if you want to avoid spending money on buying new tools every few months. As your tools get blunt, you will find it harder to get the right shapes and that would mean ruining your designs. For most hobbyists, especially those who have been at it for a long time, tools become an extension of the hand and finding a new tool that fits into the hand with the same feel is difficult.
Whether you want to continue working with your favourite tools or avoid spending money on new one or simply avoid damaging all the hard work you have done on your projects, then you need to make sharpening wood carving tools an essential part of your hobby. Sharpening wood carving tools isn't that simple and requires a lot of time & patience just as the hobby itself. It is a fantastic process in itself and the feeling that comes from standing with a sharp tool in your hands is just indescribable!
Sharpen Square to the Shaft
If you are trying to sharpen your wood carving tools, then you need to realise that the oldest form of sharpening is also the best, even today. The oldest form is also the best way to learn about sharpening wood carving tools and it is extremely easy to make corrections as you go along this slow but effective process. There are two things you need to remember when it comes to sharpening any kind of tool that requires an edge:
- The edge needs to be sharpened in relation to the shaft
- The bevel always needs to be honed
The best way to use a carving tool is to place the cutting edge square to the shaft. As a result, it is also the angle at which the tool needs to be sharpened to improve accuracy. With rounded corners, you will never be able to apply the entire width of the cutting edge to the wood's surface. If you grind one part of the tool's cutting edge more than others, you will never get a uniform edge and whether gouging or cutting, the tool will not work uniformly.
Wood Carving Tool Sharpening Technique
The first step in sharpening wood carving tools is to hold the tool perpendicular to the surface of a coarse stone and dragging it slowly, back and forth. This squares the cutting edge with respect to the shank and that is what you want at this point. Then comes the part where you bevel the edges. A bench-stone can be used to hone these edges quite easily, irrespective of what kind of edge (single- or double-sided) the tool has.
You will need smaller stones for smaller edges and these stones are available quite easily at hobby & wood-craft stores. They are generally shaped with the tool they are meant for, in mind. The process is slow and you need to keep going through the various levels of grits to keep sharpening your tool over time. Once you are done with the edge, the only thing that remains to be honed is the wire edge. This is nothing but a thing metal shard that runs opposite to the side that has just been sharpened. You can use a piece of leather to do this after adding a tiny bit of metal polishing compound to maintain the final look. With that, you will have completed sharpening wood carving tools for your hobby.
Wood Carving Tools and their Characteristics
Chisels are, by far, the easiest tools to maintain or sharpen. They are sharp, usually, on both sides and that makes it quite a simple process. Gouges are different with their rounded or concave shapes that require a lot more time and care. You will need to hold the tool at a particular angle throughout the process, going slowly so as to not make any mistakes along the way.
The hardest tools to sharpen are the V-shaped parting or veining tools that create a lot of problems if sharpened poorly. The tool needs to be in top shape to do a good job and the angle of the blade makes it quite difficult to get the sharpening process right. Great care and time is required to sharpen V-shaped tools properly so make sure you are not in a hurry on those days.
Sharpening wood carving tools is unavoidable if you want to enjoy your hobby. If you care about the quality of carving you do, then you will take the time out and sharpen your tools till they are perfect. Take your time, learn about the art of sharpening wood carving tools and look after your tools like your children. Not only will that give you a great result, it will also make your carving hobby faster where you can just pick up a tool and start carving without breaking your flow or rhythm. Isn't that just perfect?