Sunday, 6 April 2014

An afternoon of sharpening...

I tried to do a little bit of carving last weekend, but the fates seemed to conspire against me. Either wood didn't split nicely, or else knots appeared where there hadn't been any before, or splits opened up in half carved spoons, and so I gave up.

One thing I did notice in the process, however, was that may tools were all blunt. Now, I've never gone whole hog on the sharpening thing - I know some people make a science of it, have umpteen grades of Japanese water stones and use a microscope to see the striations on the tool edge. I nearly choked the first time I looked at the price of water stones in Axminster, and whilst I know there is a proper way to do it, and that those people who invest in the right kit will get a much better, neater and safer result than me, well, it just isn't in my nature to do things properly.

I have found that with proper, careful use, other than the occasional accident (like a month or so ago when I chopped my Nic Westerman axe into my chopping block only to discover a hidden nail!!), tools rarely if ever need full scale sharpening or re-profiling, and so I use a small water stone that Julian picked up from a car boot and gave me - it's fairly fine - and then an EZE LAP diamond stone, and then finish off with a strop with Flexcut polishing compound.
My very minimalist sharpening kit.

This is not a perfect method - the stones are both small and take my fingers in a rapid circling motion too close to an increasingly sharp edge for comfort. It gives me a lovely sharp edge, but as it wears I get tiny striations on the blade which leave a striped effect on my work, but I don't mind too much. I really do enjoy a good sharpening session.

Then, with newly sharpened tools, I carved a couple of spoons - both in green birch, a joy to carve. One small eating spoon, heavily cranked and shallow bowled.

The other a long serving/spatula type affair.

Both need to dry for a few weeks now and then a spell in oil and I'll then carve some decoration on them.