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     Tips
        This page provides carving tips and techniques.

From The Net
Compiled by F. Pierce Pratt

 SHARPENING

by Ron Weaver

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.

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 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 I’m working on site. Basically all the systems out there work and your job is finding the one that works for you.

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CUTS

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.

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Reprinted from:
The Southeastern Carver, December 1998

07.10.00