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when do you need to sharpen vs strop?

i purchased the swiss pfeil gouges, and all but one of them were ready to carve out of the box.  the other, i was able to strop and it was fine.  after a few projects under my belt, i still just need to strop these gouges to get them back.

what will cause me to go back to stones vs strop with normal use?

I strop every 1/2 hr or so while carving and find that's enough.  At the end of every pjt. ALL the chisels used get passed over the 8,000 grt. ,  sur. blk Ark. then stropped ready for the next pjt.

Chopping end grain in cherry with Two Cherries flat fishtail 20mm, stropped a couple of times then needed stoned,  stoned them twice today.  Cutting hinge joints in a Roubo bookstand.


Stropping vs stoning is one of those many asked questions with the same answer I didn’t want to hear when I first started!

It depends on a few things, one of which Michael touched on. The type of wood is one factor. If you are using Basswood for instance, you can get away with stropping every 10-15 minutes. If you are using a harder wood like oak, you will need to strop more often. I will every couple minutes depending on what I’m doing.

Michael also touched on another factor...if you are making aggressive cuts, or using a mallet, you will need to strop frequently, and I find I take those gouges to the stone after being used with a mallet.

As for when to strop vs stone, it depends on the tool. Is it cutting well without much effort? When you cut, does it leave tiny lines in the wood from microscopic jagged edges on the edge? Eventually every tool will need sharpened, but if it’s cutting well, I would just strop until it needs touched up. Saves time and life of the tool.

There are other factors, but it’s early, I haven’t had my coffee and my brain isn’t workinG yet!

I find that you can only strop for so long before your bevel becomes rounded. When you start noticing the angle needed to get the tool to cut is getting too steep and you're having trouble making nice planing type cuts, check the bevel. If it's rounded it's time to flatten it on your  sharpening stones.

Michael Duncan and Jason Parsons have reacted to this post.
Michael DuncanJason Parsons

Excellent answers. I agree with all... and now I'll shut up and carve.

(you have learned well grasshoppers)


MaryMay has reacted to this post.

i appreciate everyone's feedback.  i just got my 8000 mesh dmt, so i'm gonna break it in on some not-pfeil gouges first.