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2 Equipment

Here's the question: What do you want to do? When you know the answer, you can seek out the means to reach those ends.

I've added more notes about power sharpening and Cratex wheels in the download - link below.


Subscriber download: Notes on Power Sharpening


| 22 October 2019 23:39

Hi Chris, what is your opinion on using a small rotary tool such as a Dremel to sharpen, with a bench stone to finish?

| 26 February 2018 09:36

Bill - The problem is finding the appropriate slipstone. (Oh, and having good eyesight!)
There are narrow slipstones to be had out there and don't forget you can alter the shape of any stone by abrading it on a grinder or other surface to get the working surface the right sweep, or if it has become worn.

| 21 February 2018 15:47

Hey Chris Bill Ellen here from Missoula, Montana Chris I have some new very small gouges that I need to commision. I am having trouble with the inside bevel. Two in particular are a 5/5 and a 3/3. I haven't worked on the 3/3 but when I tried to put an inside bevel on the 5/5 I basically wiped out the sweep. These are so small that I have nothing that can go inside to form that bevel. Can you help me with this?

As an aside, next week I am heading back to the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. I have been accepted as a fellow an will be there for two months.

| 16 October 2016 09:53

Marshall - One thing to understand here is that carving gouges work off the (outside) bevel, rocking on the heel in a scooping motion. This is the opposite of a bench chisel, which is used flat side against the wood, bevel UP, and pushed in a straight line.
Although a hollow bevel suits the action of bench chisel, in a carving gouge the edge would be weaker against the cross forces of scooping and give a bumpy ride.

But do feel free to prove me wrong; grind in a hollow bevel and see what the tool is like to use. I trust you'd find a single flat or slightly rounded bevel with a softened heel and low cutting angle works best (along with the inner bevel).

| 06 October 2016 22:50

Dear Chris,

Sorry, I must have missed the part where you mentioned that in this video. Just re-watched it, and saw that.


| 06 October 2016 22:46

Dear Chris,

After sharpening several tools using bench stones, I have started looking into powers sharpeners. In the bench chisel video, you mentioned that the grinding wheel makes a hollow in the tool's bevel. My question is, will this hollow affect the outer bevel on a tool in a good or bad way?

Thank you for you in advance,

| 24 July 2016 11:22

Bert - I know that some people convert grinders to 'honing' machines (ie with soft wheels) by reversing the direction of rotation either mechanically or electrically, but I have to make the disclaimer here that I haven't, don't know how to, and don't recommend it!

Practice making perfect is not for the real world. What's 'perfect' anyway? However, practice will make familiar, will give confidence. A good idea is just to take one tool, perhaps a middle gouge (#6 x 1/2in. 14mm) and work on it until you get it right, which means it has those criteria that I keep banging on about. If you are a little out, chances are it won't matter; you can tune it next time you go to a stone. And stones are perfectly good way of sharpening our tools.
Once you get a feel of a correctly sharpened carving tool, how great it feels as you use it and how it sings in its work, you'll never accept anything less. And with one tool under your belt, you'll find the next one easier and quicker to do.

| 23 July 2016 15:40

Hi. I suppose a honing grinder would cost somewhat more, being a scarce beast. The poor man's solution would be to buy a cheap 'ordinary' grinder and swap the wheel covers around and mount the machine back to front on the bench. If you feel unsafe reaching over to get to the switch you could (with a bit of luck & depending on what you bought) turn the motor around on its base and bring the switch back to the front.

Not that I'm going to... I've ruined enough tools to have learned that for me, hand sharpening is the way to go. I know that 'practise makes perfect' and it's probably sentimental rubbish but it seems the tool just feels happier too for not being subjected to all that noise and vibration and dust and stuff. They have their feelings too...

| 21 July 2016 19:42

William - In the Beginners Course I make the point that for hundreds of years carvers have sharpened with bench and slipstones only. (If they were luck they may have had a hand-cranked, grinding wheel in a trough of water.) Me too, for many years only did hand sharpening - and here's an odd thing, which may not make sense and may not be true, but... I really believe that my hand-sharpened edges last longer than those sharpened on power wheels. They are certainly more accurate, though the power method is accurate enough. Just want to encourage you not to feel any sense of lack, loss or inferiority sharpening by hand!

| 20 July 2016 18:57

At last an explanation of your sharpening techniques. Thank you so much. For those of us who have limited shop space, your suggestion to retain some level of hand methods is helpful. With space a problem, I am limited to bench grinder, bench stones, strops, Andy a soft felt wheel on the bench lathe that adapts well to inner surface curves. Have you any opinion on the use of more flexible felt wheels?

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