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Thread: How to Hone a Hook Knife

  1. #1

    How to Hone a Hook Knife

    Hi, Carvers

    How do you sharpen your hook knives? Do you want the back to be flat or is a back bevel OK? Do you sharpen the back (inside) or the bevel side?

    To introduce myself to this forum -- I'm an experienced hand tool (hybrid, actually) woodworker. I know how to sharpen flat chisels, turning chisels, plane irons and knives -- mainly by hand. . I just bought a Narex hook knife as part of a spoon carving set. It was not sharp. I wrapped some SC paper around a piece of PVC pipe and put in on my lathe to grind the inside -- so that would be grinding parallel with the edge. 220 - 1500 in steps. I worked on it for some while and never did feel a burr. I assume this is because of the direction of grinding. It is reasonably sharp now. I'll probably continue to hone the inside of the hook unless the consensus is that its the wrong way to do it.

    Doug

  2. #2
    Hello again

    I'm puzzled by the lack of response to my earlier questions about how you sharpen your hook knives. They seem straightforward. Do you hone the bevel or the back? Do you use a back bevel? Or maybe you just buy a new one when they get dull??



    Doug
    Last edited by Doug Hepler; 12-18-2018 at 7:42 PM. Reason: removed attempts at ironic humor

  3. #3
    Doug, I'm sure you will soon get some expert help. I think the problem is you failed to post a method needing correction .

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I recently purchased a set of Svante Djarv hook knives from Maine Coast Craft School and had the same question. My knives came very sharp but MCCS recommended The Perfect Edge by Ron Hock when sharpening is needed. I just received the book so I can't offer any suggestions yet.

  5. #5
    Steve

    Thanks. I have a copy. The coverage of carving knives in The Perfect Edge is a few paragraphs long and does not go into any detail.

    Doug

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hepler View Post
    Steve

    Thanks. I have a copy. The coverage of carving knives in The Perfect Edge is a few paragraphs long and does not go into any detail.

    Doug
    I just started reading the Perfect Edge this evening and couldn't find any mention of hook knives in the Table of Contents. After briefly leafing through the book I couldn't even find the paragraphs you mentioned. However, I also just acquired a set of Del Stubbs hook knives from Pinewood Forge and included were some fairly detailed instructions on how to sharpen them. I'll provide better detail tomorrow but basically he recommends stropping for maintenance and honing after the edge becomes too rounded. One thing that surprised me was his suggestion not to hone the inside, only to strop it.

    Edit: Here's a link to the Pinewood Forge website, specifically the page dealing with sharpening. I haven't had a close look at it yet but think it includes the instructions mentioned above along with a video. Hope this helps.
    https://pinewoodforge.com/sharpening-tips/

  7. #7
    Steve

    Thank you very much. That is just what I was looking for. Since my hook knife is not a Pinewood Forge knife, I had to take it with a grain of salt, i.e., I think my Narex knife did need to be honed on the inside. Otherwise, looks good. This will be a useful site and maybe a useful source of carving tools if my feeble attempts actually lead anywhere.

    BTW The Perfect Edge is well worth reading even if i does not cover carving tools very well.

    Doug

  8. #8
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    Berkshire County in Western Ma
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    I don't own a hook knife, but I do just strop my gouges, as well as the carving knives I use. It's easier to keep them really sharp with a few seconds of stropping, than to let them get dull.
    As far as hook knives go, I've always wondered if it would be worth having one. I'd love to hear what others think about them.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2012
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    Hi Doug, I use sandpaper on a dowel, 2000 is the finest I have. I then use a 1" WO dowel with green that I use for gouges too. Stone on the bevel and then strop. I try not to go to stones or sand paper on any of my carving tools unless I've damaged the edge or just been lazy. I should say that it took me a while to get the motion needed to strop hook knives
    Jim
    Last edited by James Pallas; 12-19-2018 at 2:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Tony -- I have carved a total of two spoons so far so take this for what it's worth. I use a hook knife to refine the inside of the bowl. I use it across the grain to remove the ridges left by the chisel or spoon tool that I used mostly with the grain. It is useful. I do see that both left-handed and right-handed setups are handy to have.

    Jim -- Thanks for chiming in. The website that Steve gave us is very useful. I agree that I should not need to stone a carving tool unless I damage it. Stropping a hook tool is a little tricky to learn.

    Doug

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Pisano View Post
    I don't own a hook knife, but I do just strop my gouges, as well as the carving knives I use. It's easier to keep them really sharp with a few seconds of stropping, than to let them get dull.
    As far as hook knives go, I've always wondered if it would be worth having one. I'd love to hear what others think about them.
    I too have only carved a few spoons but to get started ordered a set of Chris Pye gouges at the same time as my hook knives. The hook knives arrived first after a few months wait but I'm still waiting on the gouges. I initially thought the hook knives would be best used to clean up the work done by the gouges. That still may be true but have found that only using the hook knives frees you from the workbench by not having the work piece stationary or clamped down. Once the spoon is roughed out using a hatchet or bandsaw it can be completed using the carving and hook knives. It's sort of satisfying doing the latter in front of a campfire or fireplace in the shop. All that's well and good but I've also found not all wood lends itself to not using gouges. Hard dry wood is very difficult to carve the inside of a spoon bowl using just a hook knife as I just experienced on a piece of dried Walnut. So, I'm thinking now that both gouges and hook knives have their place in spoon making. When I get my gouges and have a chance to use them I'll report back.

    One last thought, I think some card scrapers also have a place in making spoons by smoothing out the raised edges from carving. I have some rounded scrapers on order for that purpose to make sanding less of a chore on the inside of the spoon.
    Last edited by Steve Mathews; 12-20-2018 at 9:34 AM.

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