So you want to know how to sharpen a power grip carving tool? This invention relates to a power-operated wood carving tool. It is especially intended for use in carving ornamental designs on the hand gripping portions of gun stocks to make them more attractive and also provide better means for hand gripping.

There are three ways in which power grip carving tools are sharpened.

• Sharpening

 If your carving tools have worn or chipped edges the first thing you need to do is to straighten up the edges.

• Honing 

After you established a roughly sharp edge it is time for honing. With the honing process, you will make the blade sharp enough to use.

• Stropping

 The final stage of sharpening your wood carving tools is the stropping.

These will be explained in detail below.


If your carving tools have worn or chipped edges the first thing you need to do is to straighten up the edges. To sharpen, we need to remove steel from the end of the blade to create an edge. One can use a horizontal belt sander with a 150 grit disk for this operation and it will straighten up the edges of your gouges perfectly.

When using power sanders for sharpening operations, caution must be taken because the high speed of the disk generates a lot of heat very quickly, and that amount of heat is enough to take the temper out of the blade. A container of cold water must be kept on the table and constantly dip the blade in the water during the operation.


After you established a roughly sharp edge it is time for honing. Honing is straightening out that blade edge you just made. With the honing process, we will make the blade sharp enough to use. This process can be done with sharpening stones or with sandpaper glued. A lubricant¬ oil or water is needed for most sharpening stones because it facilitates the cutting action and it prevents metal particles from getting embedded in the stone.

There are four types of sharpening stones:

1. Oil stones

 Oil stones use oil as a lubricant to keep the fine metal particles generated by the sharpening process from embedding into the surface of the stone. The oil is used to float away particles of metal that accumulate on the surface of your sharpening stones.

Honing Oil

Is highly refined oil and excellent for lubricating your stone when sharpening. Remember, you should never use an Arkansas stone without some type of lubricant, or you will clog up the pores and it will not sharpen properly.

2. Water stones. 

Water stones use water for lubricant. They sharpen quickly and come in the coarse grits required for flattening as well as man grits during the polishing stage. Coarse water stones are usually soaked in water, but finer grits just require a spray of water before sharpening.

3. Ceramic stones

They are non-lubricating, putting an end to the need for oil, water and clean up. Fast, easy, durable. The dark stone is for shaping and the initial sharpening stage. The white stone begins the final honing and polishing process.

4. Diamond stones 

Diamond sharpening stones are gaining popularity owing to their fast cutting properties. While diamond stones are best as far as the efficiency is concerned, they have the ability to damage easily as well. Moreover, diamonds tend to be quite sharp and have the potential of creating deep scratches on the blade. These can easily be used without any lubricant. 

5. Whetstones

These are gaining popularity quite quickly. They are essentially composed of a white fused form of aluminium grit which is balanced in resin. While some best whetstone requires soaking for a brief amount of time, others are good to go after a splash of water. The whetstones come in a lot of variety depending upon the feel required by the user. Water-stones serve as the best whetstone for stainless steel.

*Ceramic and diamond stones don’t require lubricants. Diamond stones are most commonly used to sharpen carbide wood carving tools. Ceramic stones and diamond stones do not require any lubrication they just require regular cleaning with soap and water.

Factors to consider when choosing a stone.

1. Choose a stone that does not require oil as a lubricant. It is not only difficult to clean up when it escapes from the surface of the stone, but it can also put undesirable stains on your project, not to mention the mess on your hands and clothes. Most stones, except for oilstones, work very well with water as the lubricant.

2. It is a good idea to own both a medium and a fine stone to cover a range of sharpening needs. 


The final stage of sharpening your wood carving tools is the stropping. This refers to the further refining the edge to a point where the tool is better and smoother. A proper strop must have two sides, one of rough leather and one of the smooth hide. On the rough leather side, a good layer of strop compound must be applied.  For a new tool, about 15 strokes per side are enough. Flip the strop over and work the tool across the smooth leather. Smooth leather gives that wonderfully polished look.

There are many different strop compounds that can be used and are availed to one when buying a strop. Once done, if the tool has no shine, it simply means that the job was a success.  A strop typically consists of leather-backed up with a board or other solid and flat material. Stropping serves to polish the edge and remove the burr. A carver’s strop consists of a piece of hard leather glued to a piece of wood. Two popular abrasives are aluminium oxide and chromium oxide, available as a powder, paste or in stick form.

The sandpaper method

Another way of sharpening a carving tool is the sandpaper method. It is the cheaper method and it is very much easy. It also produces the sharpest edges one can ever experience. This kind of method is very quick as it does not require a lot of effort from the user.

Most of the methods that we have covered will leave you with a razor edge. Whether you are just getting started or are a seasoned carver, there is tremendous value in using sharp tools. Handle the tool carefully when sharpening it.

David D. Hughes