Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives

Welcome Back

In this lesson of Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives we will discuss how to keep your knives sharp, how to use compounds, use of the strop, and how to make your own thumb guard.

HOW TO SHARPEN YOUR KNIVES:

In this lesson of wood carving for beginners we’re going to start out with the important task of sharpening our knives.

I’m going to talk as if you’re right-handed, so if you’re not just reverse all instructions.

Lay the blade flat against the surface toward the end of the 250 grit honing plate; apply light pressure with your right index finger on the blades side to hold it flat against the plate.

Sharpening Knife Hold Flat

Sharpening Knife Hold Flat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now begin moving the blade TOWARD THE CUTTING EDGE, while pressing the blade down to keep it flat.

Sharpening Knife Hold FLAT

Sharpening knife hold FLAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be very careful not to tip the blade up, as this will cause uneven dips in your edge. When you reach the end of the plate, lift the blade and return it to the other end to repeat the process. Do this several times. (I do around 10 times on each side.)

Flip the blade to the opposite side and repeat the process. Wipe your blade with a soft cloth. You will notice a bit of black residue on the cloth. This is bits of your blade ground down. Don’t worry about this, it’s normal and expected.

Now repeat the same process with the 400 grit plate. Then wipe the blade again with a soft cloth. You should see less black residue now.

It’s time to use the knife strop and compound, these are used to hone the knives to a high sheen and make them cut like going through butter.

COMPOUNDS:

Blue Velvet & Flexcut Gold Compounds

Blue Velvet powder compound & Flexcut Gold stick compound

Blue Velvet Compound

Blue Velvet Compound instructions for use

Compounds come in two forms, a stick and a powder.

The stick is applied like a crayon.

The powder is applied by sprinkling the powder on the strop and spreading it with your finger. I prefer the powder because I can get a thinner layer.

 

 

 

 

 

How to use the leather strop:

Wood Carving For Beginners Strop

Leather strop

First you must apply your compound to the leather strop; a little goes a long way. Make sure you apply enough compound that your knives full length slides through it on the strop. You don’t need a very thick layer though. One thin layer is better.

Putting Compound On The Strop

Putting compound on the strop. Step one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spreading Compound On The Strop

Spreading compound on the strop with finger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lay the blade flat against the surface of the leather strop and apply light pressure with your left index finger on the blades side. Just like you did with the diamond plate.

Stropping The Blade

Stropping the blade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now begin moving the blade AWAY FROM THE CUTTING EDGE, while pressing the blade down to keep it flat. It’s important NOT to move the blade toward the cutting edge on the strop,because it will cut the strop. This will cause dulling of the blade and ruin the strop. Do this several times. (I do around 10 times on each side.) Flip the blade to the opposite side and repeat the process. Wipe your blade off with a soft cloth after this step. You always want to start out with a clean blade.

You want to maintain a razor sharp edge, so you will need to strop your blade before you think the edge is dull. To keep the edge sharp, strop the blade often during all carving sessions. A few times across the strop every half hour should achieve this goal.

A smooth leather strop with no applied compound can also be used for removing blemishes and burrs on the edge of your knife.

HOW TO MAKE A THUMB GUARD:

Wood Carving For Beginners Thumb Gaurds

Band-Aide Thumb Guard & Masking Tape Thumb Guards

You can rap two Band-Aids around your thumb, one over the tip, and one around the thumb at the base, having the padded part towards your thumbs inside.

OR:

Wrap your thumb in masking tape having the sticky side facing out. Start at your thumb tip and work your way towards the base. Now do the same having the sticky side to the inside.

Using this method, you can use the same thumb guard over and over. It might not look very pretty, but it does the job.

SUMMING IT ALL UP:

In this lesson of Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives you’ve learned how to keep your knives sharp and even how to make your own thumb guard.

If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment please feel free to do so.
I would love to hear from you and help in any way I can.


Lynne Clay
Founder of Carved Fairy Houses

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8 Responses to Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives

  1. Gary says:

    Thanks for writing this article on Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives. It was very helpful to me.
    It showed me the right way to sharpen my knives and strop them. Not many other websites show this kind of information. I appreciate it.

    I didn’t know there were two different kinds of compound you could use. I’ve always used the stick kind. I will have to try the powder, it looks as if it might be a bit better and cleaner to use.

    Thanks for showing how to make a thumb guard. I use a leather one, but after a few days it stretches out and doesn’t stay on any more. I will have to try making one myself.

    • Lynne Clay says:

      Thanks for your comment on my Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives, it’s so nice to know I’m appreciated and that I’m helping you to become a better carver.

      I’m very glad I helped you with your sharpening and stropping. These are very important skills to have as a sharp tool cuts much easier than a dull one. You’re far less likely to cut yourself with a sharp tool also. Safety is important.

      I’m not sure that the powder compound is any cleaner then the stick. The stick compound has a tendency to leave a cakey look and feel to the strop. It’s easier to apply though.
      The powder compound is a bit messier if you ask me. You sprinkle it on the strop and rub it in with either your finger or a soft cloth. I personally like the powder myself, as I don’t like the feel of the stick compound on my hands.

      You’re welcome about showing how to make the thumb guard. I totally agree with you about the leather thumb guards that are out on the market today. They all have elastic sewn into their sides and after a very short amount of time they do stretch out and no longer fits tight enough to stay on your thumb correctly. If they won’t stay on then their not safe. The home made ones are cheaper and easy to make too.

  2. Rhonda says:

    Thanks, you’ve definitely got a lot of useful and detailed information here. I really had no idea about everything that’s involved in wood carving and how to take care of your knives.

    Can I use this method for any of my knives? We’ve got a nice set of kitchen knives that are pretty dull now and it would be neat if they could be sharpened and used some more.

    • Lynne says:

      Thanks Rhonda for taking the time to read my article on Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives. Yes you can use this same method to sharpen your kitchen knives as long as they have a flattened edge on them. If you look at the edge and it has one small shiny line running along it without a larger shiny portion alongside it,then it’s a flat edge.If they have a large bevel edge (large shiny portion) you have to use a different method to sharpen them. It’s much harder to sharpen beveled edges.

  3. Victor says:

    I enjoyed the fact that I could learn even newer ways I could sharpen my knives. Heck even in boy scouts we only learned about using the wet stone and a different direction in how one can use it.

    • Lynne says:

      Thanks for reading Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives. I’m glad you enjoyed it and learned something new in the process. The wet stone is used for beveled edge knives and it’s a lot harder to use and messy also. Most carving knives are flat edge tools, so they require the diamond encrusted sharpening plate instead of a wet stone.

  4. Cathy says:

    Fabulous! There’s a lot to taking care of knives. I hate it when people just toss a knife in the drawer (or dump) and get a new one. And I know people who just grab any old sharpening stone and just start rubbing the blade on it. They go this way then that way, then look so disappointed with the result. Inevitably, the poor blade takes the blame. Your article is a real treat to the world of knife sharpening! Keep up the good work!

    • Lynne says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article on Wood Carving For Beginners: Taking Care Of Your Knives. There is a bit of work to taking care of your knives, but it’s worth it to have a tool that cuts well and safely. I too hate to see knives that are not taken care of, when there are several different ways to sharpen them. Depending on their bevel will determine what stone or sharpening plate to be used. If you don’t use the correct one the blade suffers for it. I’m so glad you enjoyed my article and learned the proper way to sharpen your blades.

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