|From The Net
Compiled by F. Pierce Pratt
I still use old fashioned oil stones. When I need to grind the edge, I use a coarse
wheel. Mostly of the time I can get by with a coarse India stone to take out the nicks in
the edge. For preliminary honing I use an Arkansas stone. Usually I simply need to hone
the edge for faster carving. For that I use a basswood wheel dressed with Sears white
polishing stick. It's not fancy, but it is firmer than a felt wheel and I can make many
different shapes of wheels from basswood. The wheel will warm up from friction causing the
white polishing stick to melt.
To clean off the honing compound I hold the gouges against a couple of cloth wheels.
But do not use cloth wheels for taking down the edge. It will round over too much.
Finally, I pull the cutting edge between my thumb and index finger (pinch the tool) to
deposit a film of body oil on the tool.
by Joe Dillett
Sharpening techniques are as diversified as there are carvers. We find what works best
but still look around for new ideas. There is always a question about the time spent on
sharpening. On the average 40 hour week spent carving.. I sharpen about 10 minutes. The
sharpening time not only relates to the sharpening equipment but also takes care of the
tool between uses. If you come to a meeting with your tools banging around in the bottom
of a box, expect to spend an hour getting the nicks out.
Another thing I have noticed is carvers wiping the tool with your fingers. This can be
bad. Your body oil has a corrosive quality. Have you ever seen a rusty finger print on a
saw blade? That corrosion will cut through the new edge and dull the tool. I've got
several types of sharpening tools depending where I am carving. If I am in the shop I use
a 1 3/4 inch wide by 10 inch diameter wheel turning at 150 RPM, that has a leather strop
glued to it. I use green rouge (0.5 micron) abrasive. At 150 RPM almost no melting occurs
so I get almost no buffing compound stuck to the tool. One stick of compound lasts years.
To get to the inside shapes I have a 4-inch long leather piece cut to a "V"
shape that I stroke a few time on the inside of the tool. If a tool ever needs to be
sharpened or a nick taken out I use a cheap bench grinder with an 80 grit vitrified wheel.
I go from the 80 grit directly to the leather wheel.
I also have the oil stones and a soft felt buffing wheel that I use for demonstrating
or when Im working on site. Basically all the systems out there work and your job is
finding the one that works for you.
by Stephan Toman
Just keep your tools razor sharp. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one, and though it
goes to the bone when you slip, the cut heals faster and neater. I think that I have not
less than a dozen scars on my left hand, but I've never had to get stitches. I tape the
cuts with bandaids and let them heal. I've been a professional carver for 13 years and
generally slice myself about once or twice a year. I think that the worst cuts come to
beginners because they lose track of what they are doing, use dull tools and forget where
their hands are; to experienced carvers because they are over-confident and let their
concentration drift. There seems to be a period of several years in between where you
rarely slip, so enjoy it while you can. Of late most of my wounds have come because I was
moving too fast or because I was too tired.
The Southeastern Carver, December 1998