I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled a bit getting a spoon/bowl knife “really” sharp. You know, wicked sharp, where it wants to cut the wood from across the room? I’ve taught loads of people to sharpen chisels, plane blades,…, but these were all tools with a cutting edge along a straight surface. As you well know, the spoon/bowl knives have their cutting edge along a curve, which is what makes them more difficult to bring to the highest level of sharpness.
A while ago I recalled how I’d made two accessories that fit a small, tight-radiused gouge, and helped me hone it effectively. So why not use a similar process for these curved knives?
I found a scrap of Pine (I like using a softwood, but you can use what you have available) that I cut into two blanks that were about 4″ long and 1 1/2″ – 2″ wide. This allowed some extra material so I could hold it safely, while I was honing the knife. On the first, I used my spoon knife (made by John Switzer @BlackBearForge on IG) to remove some wood along a portion of one face, until I had a recess that matched the curve of my knife. This was just a shallow recess, just so no one works hard trying to fit the whole of the curved blade down into it. On the second pine blank’s end, I pressed a section of the curved knife’s blade into the end-grain, and then removed wood until I reached the cut line (curved).
As you can imagine, both blanks were made to these shapes so I could apply some honing compound, and then hone the blade against them. Having the blanks/jigs matching the shape of the knife creates a wider contact area, rather than just a point, which for me helps stabilize the knife and “jig”. When I’d used a flat piece of wood (with some honing compound on it) to work the outside of the spoon knife, I could tell I wasn’t as consistent.
You can use whatever honing compound you’d like, or if you are needing to sharpen, rather than hone, you can apply a section of PSA sandpaper to the “jigs” internal / external curves. I like to use the Tormek honing paste on the “jigs”, that my Tormek T-7 came with years ago, as it seems to cut most metal quickly as well as bring to a very polished surface. You can pick up a tube at Highland Woodworking (a link to their website is over on the right side of my page, and full disclosure, I do get compensated if you purchase through that link) or a number of other retailers.
Here is a quick video I made to show how I am using the “jigs” I discuss above, but if you cannot view this, the direct link for Youtube is here (or you can copy and paste this info: https://youtu.be/qOlaTIEUAVM ).
I hope this makes it easier for each of you to make your spoon knife as wickedly sharp as possible.
I decided it would be a good idea to make at least one last video relating to the subject of how I sharpen Carving Knives See here for the original article. I always do my best to choose my words so the reader can envision what I’m talking about, but I know that some people are more visual learners. With this in mind, I made a relatively short video this morning and just posted it on Youtube. Just in case the player below doesn’t get along with your viewing system, the quick-link for the new video is: https://youtu.be/QLukWL0wC5Y
There is one thing I want to include, that I didn’t record in the video. Obviously for a knife (or any tool) to be sharp, both sides of the blade must be equally honed, as whichever side is less refined will be the limiting factor in actually getting the tool sharp. Most will have one side of the blade that is the most easy to hone, and its just a matter of finding what works best for you, when working on the “other” side of the blade. You can either leave the actual blade pointing in the same direction as when working the first side, and just flip the knife physically over, but that puts your finger in potential danger (either on one side or the other, in the flipping scenario), as the cutting edge will face them on one of the sides. The other option (which I use) is to hold the handle on the first pass, so the tip of the blade is pointing to my right, with the cutting edge upward. When I work the second side, I rotate my wrist so the tip of the blade is now pointing to my left, while again keeping the cutting edge upward. This is a safety net of sorts, since I might move forward slightly with the hand holding the sharpening media, and even if I were to move so far forward that my rear fingers contacted the blade, they would only touch the spine of the blade.
I hope this helps clarify how I’m sharpening blades with a hollow-grind. As I referenced in the first article, I use a similar process when I am honing other blades that no longer have a hollow-grind remaining, or have flat bevels from the maker. Let me know if there is anyone that is interested in me making a video where I show the steps and specific techniques I use on a knife with flat bevels.
Thank you for checking out this article. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
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