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Following are two questions that came my way with my answers that I thought might be helpful to you.
Sharpening and Finishing Q&A
Q: 1) I’ve found that I am able to get a nice sharp blade on my knives on the back half (toward the handle), but the first few millimeters remain less so. It’s still a decent edge, but not the razor sharp edge that creates the buttery smooth cuts. I’ve tried focusing on my pressure to make sure I’m not leaning the knife back off the tip when sharpening, spending a few extra strokes on just the tip half of the blade (I don’t like this method, as I’m sure it’s easy to make the blade uneven in sharpness, angle, and shape), and a lot of strokes on the strop. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts or advice on this. It makes sense that the tip would be duller since that’s the part that’s cutting on every single chip no matter the depth, but getting it back to keen is proving more difficult.
A: I helped a student with this same problem last week at Carv-Fest. Here’s what you should do. Go back to the sharpening board with a 600-800 grit abrasive. Work the entire edge until you turn a burr (wire edge) on the entire blade. Next move to the 1200 grit and count down 10-1 like usual when using the Sharpening Kit. Proceed through the grits and finish with the strop 10-1 and your entire blade will now be Scary Sharp.
Q: 2) I also find it difficult to get the end grain to not appear much darker when staining. The only thing I’ve come up with so far is to sand it very fine, which definitely helps, but it’s still not the same as the rest of the piece. I have to believe this is something you’ve come across. Any advice here?A: The end grain is more porous so it will absorb more stain and become darker as you are finding out. Here is the best way to get an even color on your carving. First you have to completely seal the wood. I suggest doing this with 3-4 coats of spray satin lacquer. You can start with one coat of Universal Sanding Sealer before the lacquer if you like. Next, select a color of gel stain you prefer. Gel stain, not a normal oil stain. Brush on the gel stain taking care to brush it out of the recesses. Use a rag to wipe off any excess on the surface. The longer the gel stain sits on the surface the more color it will hold and the harder it will be to wipe off. Let it dry overnight. Brush on more gel stain the next day on areas that need more color. This technique allows you complete control of the color on the entire project, end grain and long grain.
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