Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Sharpening Carving and other tools

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256

    Sharpening Carving and other tools

    So i have been having shop withdrawals this year what with moving and now not having a basement place to work. Got to the point other weekend where i braved the cold and rounded up my carving gear and tried to set about carving something new.

    That invariably led to me taking a good look at my small carving tools and wanting to sort them out .....once and for all.

    Sharpening a gouge or any tool that is say bigger than 1/4 inch is relatively cut and dry but get down to the smaller veiner and v tools and then you see the issues.

    Anyhow i finally determined one of my big faults when sharpening anything that ends up getting stropped.

    I did a fair bit of research to see opinions tricks methods on the web used by others and it seems this is a huge gap in solid knowledge that exists out there. Those that trully know are not sharing it as openly as what has become the norm and many are doing this behind paid subscription sites, (heck dont blame them i think they wise to get a return on their knowledge especially if there is a gap to do it.)

    So what did i find.

    • My problem is that I get a nice flat sharp edge and then when stropping go and round it over and wreck it.
    • In a short glimpse into the issue a very experienced woodcarver doing a video on behalf of woodcraft on sharpening Pfeil tools revealed that his preference for stropping material is not as most information on the web would have us believe. His preference was for thin leather and the soft belly leather and placed on a solid flat surface.


    I have been using two different strops one which has had me resting a piece of say 3/16 thick leather on a surface and stropping and the other a say 1/8 thick piece of cowhide with the rough side facing up glued to a block of wood.

    What i notice is the first one has a load of give such that with me (overdoing it) pressing on the leather it is resulting in an action that rounds off the edge and in the other case with the hard one its so uneven that i am pressing to get a even surface out of rough surface.

    Having looked at many carving tool sharpening videos it looks like this community is all over the place on sharpening, i am convinced there are several that are claiming razor sharp tools after their technique, which may be true but when they come to cutting actual wood the tool does not behave as one would want and "bounces" or gets directed away from the direction of the cut by the "rounded" edge.

    Now i am set to take the edges back to straight line edges to the cutting edge and then try again.

    Examination of my small tools also shows up the quality of the tool in the first place where the "u" of these 2mm to 3mm wide veiners were not forged symmetrical so the compensation i did last time i sharpened them needs serious reshaping.

    Anyone have a view on stropping of tools like this with very fine edges and shapes?

    I come to realize i am fundamentally pressing too hard during my stropping process rather than merely doing more strokes at a more gentle pressure.

    Do you buy the thinner softer leather on a solid surface as a better strop? What do you use and how do you do it?


    I have this book below and wanted to try some of the techniques in it, unfortunately this author has retired and in the book while he covers the detail on each facial element very well, there is no info on tools he uses or how he keeps them sharp enough to get the fine lines you see on the cross grain cuts in the face on the front cover.

    Most when doing carving tool sharpening instruction, all pick up a relatively no brainer shallow curved chisel or tackle the V tool making a song and dance out of the "its two chisels" approach. But have not found any that have showed how to actually do a 3mm veiner (u shaped chisel) and ones that have very shallow u and then ones that are deep .



    I have this set of palm tools


    For all their marketing hoopla i think they pretty poor quality but i guess you get what you pay for and what can one expect for $60 if they genuinely were made in the US???

    One thing for sure if one is doing sharpening in this category then really good light is a MUST have and even magnifiers one needs to watch each stroke is what i am finding.

    Anyone know of a better set of small size tools. By better i am looking for proper forming of the shape and cutting edge. I can see there being high reject rates in production if the jigging for the forging of these tools is not just right to control the strike, or they being made by grinding the basic shape, still heat treatment after may result in scrap dunno ??

    I see LV supposedly stocks http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...30,43332,43337

    I may make a trip to the local store to see what these look like again something i want to now see in person not order over the web from central warehouse and return if i dont like them. One thing for sure once bitten twice shy. Now i will carefully examine the carving tools i buy before touching them.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,699
    your link to which palm tools got eaten by the aether...

    Those micro turning tools are REALLY REALLY small . I picked up a set of 4 in a scratch and dent sale from toolsforworkingwood.com for small money and only rarely use them for very very fine cleanup. I couldn't see using them for "normal" carving as they are just ridiculously small and I fear every time sharpening them as its such a delicate operation. I wouldn't recommend them for most uses; exceptions perhaps being fine hair or feather veining or other similar work. In perspective they're perhaps 1/4 the size of the chisel in that picture or a smidge smaller depending on which one.

    Overall I've been less enthused by two cherries than I thought I'd be but my experience is quite limited so its not entirely fair (I've seen a few other folks complain as well though...). Mostly they seem to be a bit on the soft side.

    I have a handful of the flexcut palm tools and honestly am not a huge fan of those either. They will take an edge nicely if you treat them right (they seem to like really hard substrates and super crisp edges). My complaint with them is more semantics of how they're used, perhaps if I did some other types of carving than I have they would fit better but mostly I like more traditional handle shapes and am not a huge fan of the flexing bit personally. They still get used at times though because for some things they do work really well but in general they're not my go-to and I wouldn't seriously miss them if I didn't have them.

    The Pfiel chisels have been pretty good (small set of medium sized chisels), although I wore the V tool into an odd shape in a remarkably short period of time when doing the tap handle lettering (mostly on the lytpus wood which is a special kind of suffering so I'll give the chisel a bit of a break on that one). The section just up from the bottom of the V was noticeably softer than the bottom and divots would wear significantly within ~10-20 minutes of carving. I had to "grind" it back (on a coarser stone) a couple of times to get it back in shape, hopefully I've gotten past the softer edge (which is fairly common because of how tempering is done in some cases) as the behavior seemed to slow down some towards the end of the project.

    I've actually been quite happy with a $10 set of chinese tools I got for $2 at a yard sale. The handles are abysmal, but that's fixable, and I've honestly only used maybe 5 of the set of 20? or 30? (but hey its was $2). I'm pretty sure they are just high carbon (based on the staining) but were surprisingly fairly well hardenedand sharpen up quite easily. I would wager that these are wildly hit and miss

    I have a couple of old (1950?60? era) yard-sale buck brothers palm chisels that look a lot like the flexcuts but have more substantial shafts with a thicker/narrower cross section. Not enough of them to really make much decision but the little I've tried them I like the lack of flex more and was happier with them than the flexcut (there are other people though who just love the flexcuts so ymmv).

    I also have a partial set of Ramelson that look a lot like this set (although I believe one or two chisels are different or perhaps just worn):
    http://www.ramelson.com/#!product/pr...et-%28106x5%29
    Overall they've been pretty nice performers for smaller chisels and get used quite heavily for small work. I think they get used more than any other detail chisel for small work that I have except maybe one of the cheap-o chinese ones (the little skew chisel there is just a charmer). Mine are ~20+- years old so not sure what new ones look like.

    Honestly I also don't generally use very many chisel profiles either so I may also not be as annoyed as you are at the edge profiles simply because of the type of carving I've been doing... Often I'll re-shape the edges a bit anyway on pretty much any chisel I get some as well so.. yeah...

    For stropping this sort of chisel imho harder substrates are better. I've moved from thick leather (which I had scraps of) to thinner/harder leather to mostly using scraps of hard maple as a substrate. I still use leather for some things but not the really small stuff. I'm unconvinced about using the flesh side although that's controversial and everyone has an opinion but you'll note that razor strops are all hair side up and imho there are good reasons for it (finer pore structure, more even texture, smoother). Old belts or other hard/thin leather does seem to work best for leather (I found a couple of old strops that are super thin/hard horse hide which work pretty well). But mostly for carving chisels, hard fine grained wood.

    For the wood I'll put on 2-3 drops of 3 in 1 oil on it (fairly widely spaced) and the rub the compound on and its good for ~quite a while~. I don't re-load very often unless it seems to be slowing down. The oil helps the compound rub on evenly. Leather also seems to like a wee dab of oil, but less so than wood (and after the first 1-3 applications the wood even only wants maybe a drop every now and then to loosen things up).

    For coarser material removal I've been mostly using the Spyderco ultra-fine 2x8 bench stone because I can use it dry. The japanese water stones (sigma select II's) cut faster and arguably (in the 13k stone) leave a better surface.. but.. the spyderco can be used dry and the harder stone is easier to handle without gouging it, which I struggled with mightily with the smaller v chisels and gouges (you have to be really careful to only use the pull stroke and to move the chisel around to not wear a groove).

    In truth for any of these I've had to stop and strop or sharpen (depending on where the edge is) every 5-10 minutes, maybe 20 for coarser material removal so it could well be that you have unrealistic expectations of edge life (I know I did - still do at times ).

    Generally the harder the chisel the happier I've been for detail chisels. If you were using oil stones or other slower cutting sharpening systems you might sing a slightly different tune.

    In the current lee-valley offerings for what you want to do I might look at the japanese chisels, they look reasonably well made for the price and are reportedly in the hardness range I'd be happy with. You'll need some sort of reasonable sharpening setup to touch them very much though.
    http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...332,43334&ap=1

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256
    Thanks Ryan. The link that I somehow did not link to was Ramelson set of 6.

    I like the length of the tool just the shaping of the tool is poor. Maybe I just got a bad set. Going to have a look at Lv they stock them too just maybe don't have stock on hand. Those Jap ones shaft length don't look too long but I will check them out when I stop in at the store.

    Yeah I think u right about my unrealistic expectations but I found a lot has to do with me rounding the edge unintentionally. Now I have a take on it will see how I do.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
    cheers

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,699
    My biggest complaint with the Ramelsons - as I got them (which may or may not have anything to do with how they were originally although they appeared to be low use) - is that the angle of the edge was a bit blunt. That only took a few minutes each to straighten out though.

    I don't believe I have any of the Ramelsons with a real tight profile either (actually I do have one V tool but I haven't used it a whole lot so I'm not counting it) so can't really say much about the shape. Mostly I've been using the skew, the straight and the one very open curved gouge.

    This matches how I've been sharpening my V chisels pretty closely (modulus the details on the strop):
    http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wo...ricky-v-chisel
    I found getting the heal like that on water stones to be challenging which is part of why I switched to the harder stones.

    This is somewhat similar to how I sharpen gouges although I tend to use a similar pull and roll motion like what she's using on the strop while on the stone as well instead of just the side-side. I've found that to be a bit easier to keep the edge shape consistent, but I suspect either will work (I also think that you end up with some micro fractures across the edge with just the side-side but that might be just in my head).


    I don't have as nifty of slip stones as Ms May does, but have some ceramics that appear to no longer be sold.

    IMHO if you're the main thing you're not happy with is the profile then set to and re-shape it. I don't really believe that absolute consistency of thickness matters that much, what matters is the edge shape and angle and you can adjust your sharpening for that to a large extent unless they are really messed up. It'll be good practice if nothing else

    The short tool length on the japanese ones might well be annoying, but it seemed like there might be enough narrow wood behind it to allow a controlling front hand in there. It is hard to say without having one in hand (but since you were going to look anyway I figured I could sucker you into looking for me as well ). I don't think sharpening wear should be that bad since a lot of the small gouges don't have a heck of a lot more usable steel than that anyway (looking at you Ramelson).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256
    Well some time ago Toni told me to try oil stones so I have ordered some Arkansas slip stones from Tools for working wood. Going to use them to try out sharpening the small ones. As you make the point and Toni did the same, what have I got to loose. Nothing. At present they not doing what I want so they cannot get any worse. Lol. I am trying to adopt that approach in a lot of my tinkering. Funny how we change in life. To think we thought nothing of using bent nails straightened to make things when I was a kid , now somehow one drifts from that level of experimentation and expectations rise to unrealistic proportions. Time to get grounded again....time for barefeet .lol need this winter to move on out. Thanks Ryan . I did come across Marys videos. Key thing I think I have registered is not to lift the tool while stropping. Off to experimenting.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
    cheers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,699


    Yep you could go all redneck engineering and use a MAP torch and hammering what you want out of concrete nails

    I think the not lifting off is to avoid changing the angle while stropping. You could make the same argument for grinding. It depends somewhat on whether you believe in the absolutely straight grind or if you believe a slight adjusted angle (aka "dubbing") makes a stronger edge (ala Paul Sellers).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,832
    I use a fine stone followed by stropping. My strop is just a piece of scrap leather nailed to a hunk of scrap wood and charged with red rouge. Works fine for all but the V tool. I have never successfully sharpened one. And, I have let several 'expert' carvers show me how. All that has been accomplished is that it is now much shorter than when new and still not very sharp.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

Similar Threads

  1. Some new carving tools
    By Rob Keeble in forum Carving
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 03-11-2016, 08:02 PM
  2. Carving tools .....finally
    By Rob Keeble in forum Neander Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 09-10-2013, 01:52 PM
  3. New to me Carving tools
    By Brent Dowell in forum New Tools
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 12-31-2012, 05:05 PM
  4. Some Notes on Carving Tools for "Carving for Turning"
    By Mike Henderson in forum Lathe Project Showcase
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 05-02-2008, 07:29 PM
  5. carving tools.
    By Richard Smith in forum Neander Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-01-2007, 07:19 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •