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Sharpening a Mora 164 hook knife and how to carve with it.

To carry on the previous post about getting into woodworking, I am going to show you the way I sharpen my hook knives. Time spent learning about sharpening is time well spent.
As I say in the video, knives are blunt when I acquire them. I always sharpen all my knives before selling them on, as a sharper knife is easier and a bit safer to use.
There are all sorts of hook knives on the market and some are better than others. The most important thing for any knife is that it is sharp. Really, do not bother using a hook knife if it is blunt, it is dangerous and disheartening.  I certainly do not get any pleasure from forcing a blunt edge through wood.

This video will show you a few ways I use the 164. The spoon being carved is dry sycamore. I would not normally carve a spoon in the dry state, it is too hard, but this is what I had to hand at the time of recording. Always try and do the bulk of the carving with green wood. Often, once the spoon is dry, I will take the knife over it for one final time to correct any minor deviations from the form I want. These cuts are usually just fine ones and they leave a beautiful textured finish.
I do not want to be using a hook knife to remove dry wood, as it is too much like hard work on the fingers and hands. If you are working on green wood and need to leave it some time before you can continue carving, make sure it retains its moisture. I often leave wood in a plastic bag, and have done so for weeks at a time. Beware that if it is warm, mould will grow on the wood and rotting will take hold eventually. In the summer small objects can be kept in the fridge or even frozen. Large objects need to be carved as quickly as possible. If a spoon does dry out it can be soaked in water or boiled to be re-hydrated. If you boil it, keep it in the pan until the water is cold.

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Two knives

Angels from heaven have descended and delivered a Del Stubbs open sweep hook knife into my quivering hands. Oh how it shines, it almost generates its own light, its soft gentle curves sending me into ecstasy. The ultimate tool now completing my life.

Well enough of this flowery language, I do rate Del`s hook knife very highly, it is a joy to use and very well made and designed. Apart from making tools Del also carves spoons as well as fan carved birds,, so he knows what is needed in a tool. I have mentioned in another post about trying to make a 10 minute spoon, and that I was unhappy with the hook knives I already own, mainly because of there tight curves. This knife leaves a far flatter finish, because it takes off a wider shaving, and so saves time.

I am impressed with its finish, you can use it as a mirror as all surfaces are so highly polished, not something you find on all tools. There is no point on the tip, instead it curves round (see photo). The back edge of the blade is also rounded. I have ground off the point on my Frosts as it gets stuck into wood or flesh.

The only point that I would say could be changed is the handle is too smooth, I much prefer Ben Orfords elm handles with lots of flats on, but may be that is just personal preference. These are not cheap tools because the exchange rate with the dollar is not so good at the moment, but I consider it a great investment and well worth the money.

left to right; Del Stubbs, Frosts and Ben Orford hook knives

The other tool I got at the same time was a Trevor Ablet woodcarving pocket knife, made in Sheffield. I decided to buy one after seeing Nicola wood`s videos on folding knives. Again a craftsman made knife and very good too.

I had to spend some time sharpening it. It seems to take a good sharp edge and I am liking it more and more, I did not think it would be to comfortable to hold, but I like it, as it fits my hand well. Carving with a folding blade is something I gave up about 20 years ago, but if we look at American tramp art and whittling in this country, much of the most amazing stuff was done with just a pocket knife, from captive balls and chains to fan carving figures and gypsy flowers etc. I am looking forward to using much more of it.