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Thread: Flexcut to Pfeil

  1. #1

    Flexcut to Pfeil

    Most of my carving tools are flexcut, primarily because that's whats available in my price range. Also I like the fact that all I have to do is hone them a little with their gold compound and I'm good to go. I'm deathly afraid if I use sandpaper or a stone on them I will ruin an expensive chisels. I primarily use a reciprocating handpiece so I can carve woods of varying hardness. Now I would like to use some mallet tools like Pfeil or Auriou and they are upwards of $50US apiece(Ouch) So..

    My question: Can I keep these sharp with just honing or will I have to use stones and or sandpaper?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    20
    I think you'll find, regardless of the brand or quality of the tool, at some point you're going to have to put it to sandpaper, stone, or diamond plate. Drop one on a concrete floor, cutting edge first, and you'll see what I mean.

    I like to describe the sharpening process as "shaping" and "honing". (You'll find others use different terms... like honing and stropping, which I think is the same thing.) If I need to change the shape of a tool due to damage, wrong bevel angle, too thick, etc., I'll need to do some grinding (shaping) on sandpaper, stone, or diamond plate. These mediums are all available for hand or power sharpening. I suggest you start with hand sharpening.

    Many beginner carvers find that sharpening their tools to be one of their biggest challenges. And, like most everything else worth learning, you need to practice to become proficient. Start with some junk, or less expensive, tools. I find a straight-bladed knife to be one of the easiest tools to sharpen... followed by a #1 chisel, a shallow gouge, a deep gouge, a veiner, and lastly the dreaded "V" tool. Throw in all of the short and long bent tools, spoon gouges, back-bent tools, etc. and you'll find each has their own challenges.

    Once you have the shape you want (damaged edge restored, thickness right, etc.) it's time to hone. This will remove any burrs created when shaping and put your final carving edge on the tool. Once sharp, you'll need to hone often to maintain the edge, but you should not expect honing to maintain a perpetual edge. Honing will often times cause the cutting edge to round, losing your "sticky" edge. I use my knives the most and find I must touch the sides to emery every once in a while to restore the cutting edge I want.

    Keeping the desired bevel angle while hand sharpening is a bit tricky, which is why they make jigs to hold your tools. I personally don't like using jigs, so I use a power sharpener that I built to sharpen all my carving tools. It has 8" wheels with emery paper and leather wheels that turn at 400-450 RPM. This works well for me, as it allows me to hold the tool still, which lets me maintain the desired angle better.

    The important thing is to find a method that works for you and keep with it. Any time spent learning to sharpen will pay off in benefits down the road. You might consider finding a local woodcarving club in your area and visit them. You can get a lot of sharpening pointers that way.

    Sharpener 1.jpg
    .... Dave

    Old carvers never die.... they just whittle away.

  3. #3
    So you think a Pfeil or similar chisel would be as easy to hone as a flexcut? I carve on a carpeted floor and I am careful with my tools so I don't have to reshape. Like you pointed out a stone or motorised system is just part of the cost you still have to buy the jigs!
    Maybe sandpaper and jigs would be affordable, I'd just like to spend my Christmas money on the Chisels. I have a Worksharp sharpener but it doesn't have a place for jigs

    BTW That's a nice sharpening outfit! With that who needs or wants a Tormek!
    Last edited by paul handley; 12-28-2018 at 1:49 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by paul handley View Post
    So you think a Pfeil or similar chisel would be as easy to hone as a flexcut? I carve on a carpeted floor and I am careful with my tools so I don't have to reshape. Like you pointed out a stone or motorised system is just part of the cost you still have to buy the jigs!
    Maybe sandpaper and jigs would be affordable, I'd just like to spend my Christmas money on the Chisels. I have a Worksharp sharpener but it doesn't have a place for jigs

    BTW That's a nice sharpening outfit! With that who needs or wants a Tormek!
    I would say yes, one brand would be as easy as another, assuming you're comparing the same size and shape of tool. Different shapes present different levels of difficulty in sharpening.

    Dropping a tool on the floor is just one of many ways to damage a tool. I hit a nail while carving a tree-trunk once. Never say never on the need to re-shape!

    A motorized system, like the one in the photo above, does not require jigs. I free-hand sharpen all my carving tools on it.

    I wouldn't discourage anyone from getting a Tormek, or similar unit, as you can shape (with or without jigs) your tools and remove a lot of material quickly without fear of annealing the steel. I own a water wheel and use it when major amounts of material needs to be removed.

    I can appreciate your desire to invest all your funds toward quality tools, but you can't ignore costs of sharpening supplies. re: your original question.... if you are able to get your Flex-cut tools sharp enough for you and what you're carving, then that should be good enough for the expensive tools and shouldn't stop you from buy them. I would also never tell anyone that they'll never need to reshape any of them.

    Good luck.
    .... Dave

    Old carvers never die.... they just whittle away.

  5. #5
    I have to agree with Dave. Sooner or later you are going to need to use something more than a strop with compound regardless of the brand of the tool. So... learn to sharpen. Don't be afraid. Buy a 5 dollar home depot chisel and practice sharpening it if you are afraid to touch your tools I look at it this way. If I totally ruin a $40 dollar gouge, but learn to sharpen in the process, it's worth it.

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