How to sharpen wood carving tools?
The second method is called “stropping.” You’ll strop on a more frequent and regular basis in order to keep your tools as sharp as possible without damaging the blades.
How to sharpen wood carving tools with a stone?
If your tools is very dull, begin sharpening on a medium-grade grit to efficiently flatten to bevel and smooth out any irregularities along the blade.
Finish sharpening using a fine grit stone for a precise edge.
A fine grit surface can also be used for periodic maintenance when the blade is not overly dull.
Find the strategy that feels most comfortable to you when holding the blade against the stone. Position the blade nearly flat (pretend there is a dime under the back edge) and push the knife away from you like you are trying to cut a slice off the surface of the stone. Another method is to position the knife on the edge of the stone furthest from you with the sharp edge pointing away, imagine the dime under the back edge of the knife, and pull the knife towards you.
While some make small circular strokes, it can be hard to hold the blade at the same angle against the stone. Whichever process you choose, repeat the process until you can feel a bur or “wire edge” the length of the cutting edge.
This wire edge shows that the entire edge has been sharpened. Then, move on to the finer stone. The finer stone will break off the wire edge and then create smaller one. Again, repeat the carving process on both sides of the blade until you feel the wire edge.
Stropping to sharpen wood carving tools
Begin with a block of stropping compound and scrape off a small amount of the chalky powder with a butter knife or the back of your knife blade. Coat the leather strop with the compound. It will embed itself in the leather, so you won’t need to apply the powder every time you use the strop.
Place the flat, beveled edge of your tool against the strop with the blade facing away from you. Apply pressure and pull the tool toward you. Repeat for the other side.
Repeat the entire process until you remove the wire edge and polish the edge. It shouldn’t take a lot of time or effort at this stage.
Use the strop frequently to keep tools in top condition. If you wait for them to become too dull, you will need to go to the diamond stones to restore the edge.
Sharpening a wood carving gouge
When sharpening the outside edge of your gouge, you can still use the flat leather surface, but the motion will be different. Instead of pulling the blade straight and keeping the edge in one place, you roll the edge as you pull. This way, more of the surface of the blade will be polished and the edge will remain even.
For the inside of the gouge blade, choose the groove on your strop that is exactly the same shape and angle for the tool you are sharpening. Otherwise, you may end up sharpening your tool unevenly or even changing its shape slightly. Use the same rocking motion as you pull the blade across the strop and make sure to apply even strokes to the entire blade. Dowels of various sizes charged with stropping compound will also work.