When it comes to wood carving, like many other crafts, it’s important to properly care for your tools. The way you store them, clean them, and sharpen them makes a significant difference in how long they will last and how well they will perform.
Learning the tricks of the trade isn’t just about carving technique; it’s also about consistent and concise tool maintenance. Check out some common carving tool FAQs below to brush up on care and maintenance for your wood-carving tools.
How Do You Store Wood-Carving Tools?
The first step in proper tool maintenance is knowing how to store your knives, chisels, gouges, and other tools correctly. If you have been keeping all your tools together in a box or drawer, just rolling loosely around, it’s definitely time to rethink your system.
When the blades of these tools are allowed to bump around and clank against each other, they can easily become damaged and dull. The handles can also come loose or get chipped. You will need to sharpen, repair, and replace your tools a lot more often when they are stored this way.
Make sure your tools are stored somewhere where they won’t get wet. This will help you avoid rusty blades and other damage caused by moisture.
There are a couple of useful accessories for storing wood-carving tools. One great item to use if you can is a protective cap. Some chisels may come with caps that can be used to protect the blades when they are not in use. If your chisels do not have caps when you buy them, check your local hardware store to see if they carry something that will work.
Make sure you get caps that fit each blade correctly. It’s not always a one-size-fits-all situation. For example, you definitely can’t use a chisel cap on a gouge because the curves and angles are not the same.
Another great way to store chisels is to get a case to put them in. There are wooden or plastic box-style cases with designated slots for each chisel. There are also fabric roll-up wallets with pockets to hold several tools. Some carving sets, like the ones from Schaaf, already come with a protective fabric tool roll.
Both of these can help you find the tool you need more quickly when everything is in its place, but more importantly, they will keep the tools from hitting each other or the sides of the box or drawer. The blades will be snugly tucked in, safe and sound.
If you don’t have access to either type of storage case, you can use a thick piece of fabric, such as burlap or canvas. Lay it out and line up the tools, then securely roll it so there is fabric between each tool. Tie it closed and carefully store it somewhere where it won’t roll around.
If you or someone close to you knows how to sew, it is advisable to sew pockets into the fabric to hold tools more securely. Either way, make sure to keep it flat when you move it or unroll it, rather than picking it up vertically. You don’t want the tools to slide out one end and crash to the floor.
If you have a designated workspace, such as a garage or tool shed, you can store your tools on wall-mounted racks with loops or hooks. You can also use shelves with holes drilled into them and insert the blades into the holes when they are not in use.
Tool Cleaning for Wood-Carving Tools
If your tools get a little rust or dirt on them, you’ll want to clean them up before sharpening and using them. Tool cleaning should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions whenever possible. If you are unsure, you can use the steps below on most tools.
- Put a little linseed oil on a cloth. You’ll need just enough to make the cloth damp.
- Wipe the cloth over the tool and coat the blade with oil.
- Let the tool sit for about ten minutes.
- Use a scrub brush to scrape off rust and dirt.
- Get a clean cloth and put a few drops of dishwashing liquid soap on it. Get the cloth wet and sudsy.
- Use the soapy cloth to remove linseed oil and any remaining dirt from the tool.
- Rinse with water and thoroughly dry with another clean cloth.
How Do You Keep Wood-Carving Tools Sharp?
Another important part of tool maintenance is keeping your blades sharp. A dull blade will not make clean cuts and can cause you to use more force. This can lead not only to a ruined project, but also to bodily injury.
Get a sharpening stone that is double-sided. This way, you’ll have a coarse grit side and a fine grit side for different levels of sharpening. Use your sharpening stone when your tools are particularly dull.
Otherwise, regular tool maintenance using a strop should be sufficient. Use a honing guide when sharpening chisels to safely and accurately set the angle of the blade.
Use a leather strop frequently to maintain a sharp edge on your blades. You can also use a honing strop, which has raised sections to match the angles of your chisels and gouges. This will help guide you when sharpening edges that are not flat.
- Apply stropping compound to the leather.
- Rest the entire beveled edge against the strop and push the blade backward, away from the cutting edge.
- Push the blade back and forth across the strop a few times. Make sure to only push the blade away from the cutting edge. This means you will push it all the way to one edge of the strop, flip the blade over, and push it to the other edge. Never lead with the sharp side of the blade.
Sharpening Odd Tools
When you sharpen chisels, gouges, and veiners, you will need a sharpening stone and a strop. Start with the stone and carefully roll the outside of the tool evenly as you sharpen the outside edge. Don’t twist too far or you’ll end up with rounded edges on the sides of the tool. Next, use a honing strop to sharpen the inside edges of the blade. Use a similar technique as with the flat blades and push away from the cutting edge.
Add to your wood-carving sets and supplies with Schaaf Tools Collections, which are great for both beginners and advanced carvers.
Contact us to learn more about tool maintenance and tool cleaning, as well as how to sharpen your wood-carving tools correctly. Plus, get tips and tricks from our informative ebook.