sharpening. dicey subject; more ways to skin that cat than you can shake a stick at (wow – a double metaphor. I think)
When I did my first carving DVD with Lie-Nielsen last year, http://www.lie-nielsen.com/I didn’t put any sharpening in it; I really wanted to concentrate on the patterns & tool use. It’s meant as an introduction, so I kept things pared back some. There are many resources for sharpening instruction; a new one is Ron Hock’s book, which I haven’t seen but have heard good things about. http://blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/Book%2BReview%2BThe%2BPerfect%2BEdge%2BBy%2BRon%2BHock.aspx
I have never had the subject of sharpening on this blog, which is absurd. I do it a lot, more than some, less than others. But…I finally caved. Here’s a bit of what I do about the task of honing carving gouges.
I use oil stones; here I am just touching up this gouge on a hard Arkansas stone; which I wash with some mineral oil. I start at one end; my right hand slightly raises & lowers the handle of the tool until I feel the bevel on the stone. Then my left hand is pressing downwards to keep that contact. Now I move my whole body forward, while twisting my right hand, which results in the gouge rolling from one end of the tool’s edge to the other. My forearms are braced against my torso to keep things steady. the movement comes from way down low; legs & hips.
I try to keep things moving all across the stone; not on every stroke of the gouge, but over the course of several strokes I work the entire surface of the stone. This keeps it from wearing out in one spot. This particular stone is older than me & still works fine.
To remove any burr on the inside of the gouge, I use some small man-made slipstones. I just wipe the slipstone in the oil on the whetstone. Then my right hand is sliding the slipstone in & out on the inside surface of the gouge, while I roll the tool with my left hand. So at this point, it ‘s a little bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly, which I can’t do. Again, both arms are braced against my body for stability.
Both the inside and outside can then be stropped on leather – I have some that’s glued to a thin board. The leather is charged with polishing compound, and I pull the gouge backwards, (away from the cutting edge). To strop the inside, I have a small turned wooden cone, also rubbed with polishing compound. Swipe it on the inside of the tool to complete the sharpening.