Sharpening Your Wood Carving Tools

Sharp carving knives, gouges, and chisels are a must for any wood carving project, whether it is a 3-dimensional little cowboy, relief landscape, or a whittled animal.

If your bench knife seems to drag through the cutting stroke or if it leaves behind fine, thin scratch marks in the cut it is time to get out your sharpening stones, leather strop, and rouging compound.  Dull knives and rough cutting edges can be dangerous as they cause you to apply excess pressure to make the stroke.

I start every carving session by first checking the sharpness of my tool edges.  You can do this several ways.  First, make a few cuts on a basswood practice stick.  Your tool should push through the cut smoothly, if it seems to drag or hang-up on the wood it needs sharpening.  You can also look at the cutting edge of the blade under a bright light.  If your tool is dull the cutting edge will appear as a white line or you may see white spots where there are dings or dents.

I also check my sharpening stones on a regular bases as they can become bellied or bowed in the center from use.


Let’s look at the simple steps to sharpening your wood carving knives, gouges, and chisels.


Whittle Tiki Chess Set Carving

Tikit Chess Set, Beginner’s Wood Carving Project

In depth, step-by-step, how to wood carve your own unique Chess Set.

Download your free wood carving pattern package on the project page!

Tiki Chess Set by Lora IrishThis one is perfect for the brand new beginning carver to walk through the simple cutting steps. For you seasoned whittlers the Tiki theme is great for innovation, experimentation, and creating your own unique chess pieces. Each piece has taken me about one evening’s session to create.

So get your tool kit out. You will need a bench knife, 3/8″ round gouge, 1/8″ round gouge, and your favorite v-gouge. Bring your carving glove, thumb guard, a compass and pencil, a little sandpaper, a set of rifflers, and, of course, your strop and rouging compound.

Tiki Chess Set by Lora IrishThe set is worked on 1 1/4″ square by 3″ basswood and 1 1/4″ square by 4″ basswood blocks. The patterns can easily be re-sized to fit other square dimensions and these Tiki’s would make great cane toppers or walking stick tops.




Whittle Fish E-Project

whittle_fish_coverNew Release – Whittle Fish

American Folk Art Ice Fishing Decoy Project by Lora S. Irish

Learn folk art ice fishing decoy carving with this in-depth step-by-step project taught by Lora S. Irish. This sixty page e-book includes an introduction to the history of ice fishing decoys, the six basic carving cuts needed to create these fun fish, and two complete projects. Complete your decoy with the painting steps and by creating a simple wire hanger.

Included are 20 small decoys patterns with fin variations, 4 long minnow decoy patterns, and 21 large full-sized decoy patterns accompanied by full-colored photos of the carved samples.

Easy to download, simple to carve, hours of fun.


Basics to Painting

Susan posted an in-depth look at the basics techniques used in painting wood carvings, wood burnings, gourds, and general wood crafts here on our blog.

This in depth, step by step, how to paint your craft project includes working with oil paints and acrylics as antiquing colors, dry brushing, china painting with acrylics, marbling, and simple painting techniques.

So please stop by Basics to Painting and all of its step-by-step projects.



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