If the common denominator of success is doing the things failures don’t want to do, sharpening would be one of the things that carvers don’t want to do. But good sharpening practices are paramount to good carving.
One of the things that will keep you from successfully sharpening is an unreliable way of holding your sharpening stones. I had been using the storage container/holder to hold the stone (that the Norton water stones come with). These holders have two problems; the first is that when it’s feet get wet it slips. Secondly, it easily tips and is unstable.
So after dealing with this for some time now, I decided it’s time to make a sharpening stone block for these stones. I was aware of them and even made one before (which was something I gleaned from Drew Langsner’s writing). But for some reason I stop using it. I believe it was back when I stop using diamond stones (it was made to fit those stones). Well, maybe it was because I had trouble fitting the wedge. Anyway, when done right, they are a tremendous help getting a flat razor edge.
So here are some pics of the one I made.
I’m really happy with it over all. Thanks to the bike inner tube I glued on with my new favorite glue, contact cement, it doesn’t slip even on a wet surface. Now, I can use as much pressure on it as I like, without the fear of it moving on me. It helps get the job done faster and with less strain on my hands, which makes for more accurate work. Also, I put an arch on the bottom for the purpose of a sure footing and it makes it look nicer. In addition, I slightly hollowed the feet with a gouge before gluing the inner tube on, in the hopes of making it less likely to wobble on the surface.
But one thing that wasn’t perfected about the block was that when the pressure is mainly on the outside of the stone it tips slightly. This isn’t good because you want to spread out the wear to the outside of the stone especially on water stones. So, I either need to clamp it in a vice (which causes me to have to sharpen parallel with the bench (using a face vise) but, I presently prefer sharpening at angle in between a parallel and perpendicular angle), or give it a wider base. Now, if you widen it, you don’t want to make it wider all the way up to the stone. As this will get in way of your knuckles and/or knife handle. Knuckle clearances isn’t so much a problem when sharpening a chisel for example, but for a knife it’s paramount. It makes the difference between a crappy, possibly, sloppy sharpen and an effective accurate one. So, if I go the wider base route I can either attach feet to the bottom (where they won’t get in the way), or make another block that tappers out from the top to the bottom.
But in the process of using my new block,I realized another problem remains. And that is with the medium grit stone. I was using the 4000 grit Norton water stone. It’s too soft in my option and tends to round my bevels by the time I remove the previous grit’s scratches or raise a bur. Making the polishing to a flat razor edge almost impossible. I was going to look for another stone. However, presently I am trying my diamond and India stone again. I’ll let you know how that goes. Also, I would like to hear what others are using as medium grit stones.
Look forward to hearing from you and See ya next week, Tim