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.
Now begin moving the blade TOWARD THE CUTTING EDGE, while pressing the blade down to keep it 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 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Founder of Carved Fairy Houses