How to Sharpen a Wood Carving Knife Like an Expert

Sharpen Carving Knife

Sharpening always begins with a good quality knife with good steel. These knives don’t need to be expensive but you should ensure you’re purchasing these tools from a reputable dealer. From here, knowing the basics of sharpening a wood carving knife can preserve its quality.

You may have different tools with unique specifications, which might require different sharpening techniques. We have everything you should know to correctly sharpen a wood carving knife. Continue reading to find out more.

Table of Contents

Sharpening Stones

One of the first things you need to do before you begin sharpening your wood carving knife is to invest in good sharpening stones. Luckily, these can be purchased online at an inexpensive price. However, we recommend avoiding any sharpening stones that use oil as a lubricant. This is because it’s inconvenient to clean.

Additionally, many carvers like stones that are attached to a triangular piece of wood, as you can easily hold it in your hand. This offers a more comfortable grip while reducing the risk of muscle fatigue. You can begin sharpening your knife on the medium side of the blade if it’s dull and work your way to the finer side.

Safety Considerations

Wood carving knives need to be sharp or else you can’t reap the best results. However, you should be careful once you’re armed with a good quality tool while you’re carving. Nonetheless, you can also cut yourself while you’re sharpening these tools, so treating these tools with caution during this process is advised.

Methods to Sharpening Wood Carving Knives

There are three popular methods associated with sharpening carving knives. These are:

  • Laying the blade relatively flat while maintaining a slight angle on the stone and making tiny circular motions.
  • Laying the blade relatively flat while maintaining a slight angle on the stone and dragging the knife toward you. During this, you should trail the sharp side of the blade.
  • Laying the blade relatively flat while maintaining a slight angle on the stone. You’re should then push the knife away from you like you’re trying to slice off a thin layer.

When starting, it’s highly recommended to try all three methods to find out which one works best for you.

What About Stropping?

Once your knife is sharpened from using one of the methods outlined above, you should get your leather strop out. You can either purchase this strop or make it yourself. However, you should be prepared to pay some hefty sums of money, so it’s always recommended to make it yourself when you’re starting.

Nonetheless, you might not be confident enough to make this strop, which is why we have outlined a simple process for you to follow. Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Find a piece of wood that’s approximately 16 inches long, 1 ½ inch wide, and ¾ inches thick.
  • Carve a round handle with 5 inches of this board while ensuring to leave the other 11 inches untouched. When making this strop, you can either choose to have a handle on one or both ends.
  • From here, you can drill a hole at the end of the handle and pull a piece of leather through this hole. You can then tie the ends together with a knot.
  • Take a piece of leather that’s approximately 1 ½ inch by 11 inches. You can get this from a leather craft shop or a shoe repair store. From here, you want to glue this material to the wood. If you’re on a tight budget, you can always use an old leather belt of the right size and glue it finished side down to the wood. There isn’t any preference when it comes to the type of glue you use. However, you should ensure that it’s long-lasting.

The Process of Stropping

Once you’ve made this leather strop, you can move onto the next step, which is using a sharpening compound. There are many options on the market but you should search for ones with a consistency similar to chalk.

Scrape some of this product off with a knife and place it on your leather strop and coat it. One application of this compound should last for multiple strops, so you don’t need to apply it each time.

You can strop your wood carving knife by laying it as flat as possible on the leather while holding it down and drawing the knife toward you. During this process, the sharp edge should be trailing away from you. Your knife can become razor-sharp after repeating this motion a few times.

When you notice your wood carving knife’s blade showing signs that it’s becoming blunt, you can easily strop it again. However, we highly recommend that you don’t wait until this blade becomes dull before you start stropping. Instead, strop it frequently so you seldomly have to use any stones.

Now that you know how to sharpen a wood carving knife, you can set yourself up for success each time!

Graham Robson
Graham Robson

In the world of wood carving, your wooden project starts with you. Using the right kit can be seen as an extension of your existing skills and abilities that you're required to build over time.