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Ed Twilbeck

Sharpening Honing

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Cape ForgeI ran across this site searching for tools. It has 2 pages on it for sharpening and Honing, Thought some might like to check this site out.

 

Hi Ed,

 

As a newbie to carving I have loads to learn, and no people close by to show me even the most rudimentary skills.

I'd like to make my own tools and be able to sharpen them. Alas, I'm at present not able to even get a good edge, so my tools are rough shapes.

Any info is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

 

Cheers,

Hans

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Hans:

 

I read your previous post about trying to make and sharpen tools from screwdrivers and files. You mention that you were using a electric grinder and a flat stone to shape and sharpen.

 

The files are probably good enough steel to work with, not the screwdrivers. It's always best to know what kind of steel you are working with, but I can relate to trying to make do with what I have.

 

You may be removing the temper from the steel (the old files) by getting them too hot with the electric grinder. A good rule of thumb is if the steel is too hot to hold or touch to the skin, you are removing the temper. Try dipping them in a glass of water to cool them off.

 

If you have removed the temper from the steel, all is not lost. Try heating them to red hot, and them almost white hot on the working end with a propane torch and quench it in water, removing it around until it is completely cooled. Then clean the oxidation of the steel with sand paper and while holding it towards the back with tongs, heat the steel with the torch in the middle. Watch the color change on the steel. You are looking for a straw color. Let the heat run that color out toward the tip, and when it gets to the end, immediately plunge it in water.

 

At this point you will have hardened and tempered your steel. Now all that's left to do is sharpen and hone them.

 

Like I said before, it's best to work with steel that has known properties, but you have nothing to lose by trying. I had some japanese linoleum carving tools that absolutely would not hold an edge, and this technique worked beautifully on them. By the way, broken drill bits are usually good steel and make excellent tools.

 

Good Luck!

 

Debbie K

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Hei Debbie, I would like to recommend to you to temper the steel to dark blue if you are going to use it for wood and bone. A straw color is ok for tools for metal work, like taps and drills, but a lesser hard steel is easier to sharpen and not that brittle. I have had some knives that were not correctly tempered and they were of no use. Just an opinion, not an order. Merry Christmas to You. Lauri

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Lauri:

 

Next time I make a tool I'll make two and try both ways and see which way works best and report back. I'm always willing to try new things. Most of the tempering that I've done has been for metal working (chasing and repousse tools and punches), but I did temper the japanese linoleum tools this way and it worked well.

 

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year!

 

Debbie K

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Debbie,

I have been tempering at a dark straw brown for over forty years ............... Your right ............ quenching a piece while blue makes it briittle.

 

If you quench the tool after tempering in oil you will find that it cools slower and gives you a much better temper. This is from an old machinist and a current metal smith.

 

Merry Christmas

 

All my best ........ Danny

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