Question about wood carving

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Forum topic by harrykane140693 posted 10-15-2018 02:41 PM 849 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 636 days

10-15-2018 02:41 PM

First off thanks for reading and any help is appreciated. So I bought a kit from Amazon for wood carving has like 9 or so knives. Is this not the way to go about? Single knives better or something else. Also if this kit is fine how should I sharpen the knives they are a bit dull. Thanks all!

6 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2442 posts in 940 days

#1 posted 10-15-2018 03:26 PM

could you post a link to the tools that you purchased ??
then we can go from there.
also – what interests do you have in carving ?
do you have any tool or woodworking experience at all ?



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Planeman40's profile


1499 posts in 3538 days

#2 posted 10-15-2018 04:13 PM

Well, its a start. Like the musician said to the passerby who asked how to get to Carnegie Hall, “Practice, practice, practice”. Really. Also there are some good instructional videos on YouTube. The same with sharpening. I will add this about sharpening.

Carving tools must RAZOR sharp! Even the best carving tools are never really sharp enough when purchased. So you must learn to sharpen until you can literally shave the hair off your forearm. Yes, this is the actual final test.

As to “stones”, everybody has their preferences and in the end they all seem to work. The object is to use the coarsest “stones” to shape the blade and bring it to a sharp edge. Then you begin polishing the edge until it is a mirror finish. In the process a “wire edge” will be produced that will bend/break off. You have to get rid of this. The best way I have found is to jab the blade edge into the end grain of a piece of wood. This knocks the wire edge off to get you back to solid metal. So work your way sharpening through finer and finer “stones” (three is usually enough) until you get to that “almost” razor sharpness. Then you finish up with “honing” with super fine abrasive in a leather “strop”, polishing even more. Stop every so often between “stones” to remove as above any wire edge that has formed. Test by shaving on your forearm. If it isn’t sharp enough, go back a step or two and repeat. Once you have a razor sharp blade you will only need a quick strop from time to time as you work.

My preference for “stones” (I write it this way as old fashion actual stones have been replaced by more modern grits like diamonds, etc.) is to shape the rough and abused blade with a coarse diamond sharpener. This works fast but leaves deep scratches in the steel. You then have to begin remove these scratches by polishing the steel. You can use finer diamond “stones’, water stones, carborundum stones, Arkansas stones, etc. to do the polishing. I use finer diamond stones for this. Then I move to Arkansas stones to finish the sharpening before honing. I prefer Arkansas stones as they work well and stay flat over time, unlike water stones which are very soft and wear. These have to be “flattened” periodically.

I have found that being able to actually see the edge under magnification is a great help to knowing how you are doing. I use a cheap Harbor Freight 2x (power) lens visor to do this. The trick is to view the edge straight on using a very bright light. If the edge is not sharp, you will see the edge as a thin bright strip of light reflecting off the edge. If the edge is sharp there will be no light reflecting off the edge.

I make my own leather strops to various shapes and sizes using leather bought from Tandy leather supply ( You have to embed the leather surface with a fine abrasive. This can be bought online from most of the woodworking sources. Personally, I use Turtle Wax car polish for this.

And while we are on “sharpening”, don’t forget the use of a sharpening “steel”. These are the round things you often see fancy chefs use on their knife when cutting a roast. These are round in shape and have fine grooves like a file. What happens to a razor sharp edge, especially a narrow one, it the edge gets bent some to the side in use. The steel straightens out the edge. It only works with an already sharp edge so it can be classified as a type of hone. Great things! I use a little one on my cutting edges.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View ClaudeF's profile


1147 posts in 2484 days

#3 posted 10-16-2018 06:18 PM

An alternative to the leather strop is to use a strip of cereal box cardboard, glued printed side down onto a flat surface – a piece of scrap MDF will work fine, using rubber cement. Rub on the stropping compound on the grey side of the cardboard and strop away. I prefer the cardboard to leather as the cardboard is thinner. When you pull the blade along the strop, the leather compresses and then raises up again just as the cutting edge clears it. This will tend to round the edge a little bit. The cardboard, being thinner, will compress less and consequently rebound less. For the compound, I use two: a chromium oxide (green) 0.5 micron one, and Flexcut Gold – both work fine.
This is the green one: This bar is about a 200 year supply of the stuff. My Flexcut Gold came with this:



View Planeman40's profile


1499 posts in 3538 days

#4 posted 10-16-2018 10:19 PM

Yep, it is the abrasive in the surface of the strop that does the job, not the strop itself.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Jonny22's profile


4 posts in 634 days

#5 posted 10-17-2018 01:10 AM

I just picked up a knife kit from Home Depot. Came with 12 knives and they were good quality. Probably close to as good as the pros use though.

-- Packaging supplies

View mpounders's profile


965 posts in 3672 days

#6 posted 10-29-2018 02:06 PM

I just picked up a knife kit from Home Depot. Came with 12 knives and they were good quality. Probably close to as good as the pros use though.

- Jonny22

I’m guessing by knife kit, you may mean a set of gouges with different shapes? I have seen various sets of “woodcarving chisels/gouges” at Home Depot (like Buck Brothers) but never any actual carving knives (primarily see just utility knives). Unfortunately, they are not that great and are definitely not anything close to what the “pros” use! Every now and then, a new carver will show up with some of these or some from Harbor Freight and I have often volunteered to help “fix” them. Most of these inexpensive sets ($12-$25 for 8-12 tools) come with bevels so steep that you can’t cut wood even with a mallet. Eventually, if you spend enough time or pay someone, the bevel can be worked down to something useful for carving and they can be sharpened. But it can take me hours per tool to make them cut and they still remain cheap tools with plastic handles. I own several sets myself and their only useful purpose has been to improve my patience and as a challenge for my sharpening skills. You would be better served to buy one individual tool that is sharp (Pfeil, Drake, OCCT, Helvie) and have a tool that is useful for carving immediately. A lot of people quickly give up carving because of dull tools and poor wood; it can be discouraging when people make it look so easy in videos and it really is the tools; not you.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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