by Guy G. Lemieux

Go to the Eze-Lap Store

A Practical Treatise On The Sharpening Of Woodcarving Tools With Eze-Lap Diamond Pads And Hones

Second Edition © October 1990
Produced by
Armatt G.S., Inc. 
335 Gay Road
Zebulon NC 275497
E-Mail armatt@aol.com  
Be sure to visit The Eze-Lap Diamond Store - Knife sharpeners - chainsaw sharpeners - wood carver tool sharpeners - Now On Line!



Recently I showed my Diamond sharpening products at the Wildfowl Carving show in Cromwell, Connecticut. At this show I had the pleasure to talk with many of the carvers as I was demonstrating the Eze-Lap Diamond hones. Many of you told me that you were having trouble sharpening your carving tools. This is the reason I have written this Treatise. I hope that it will make your carving job easier and your carving better.



I learned to sharpen very early for my first shaving tool was a straight razor and you had to keep it sharp or lose your face. I was taught to sharpen this razor by my dad who also used a straight razor. He was an expert Cabinet Maker and taught me to sharpen the wood carving tools I have used since.

I have spent the last thirty-some years in machining and the last twenty also providing a professional Gunsmithing service. So you can see that I have been successful in the sharpening of many various cutting tools of all materials. All of my woodcarving has been in the Custom gun stock area of my Gunsmithing service, where I have had to precisely inlet rifle and shotgun actions into expensive pieces of Walnut, Birds-eye Maple and Apple wood. I could not do this type of carving without having very sharp tools, because if I have to exert great pressure or tap on the back end of my chisels, I would spoil some great pieces of wood. I have used all of the sharpening methods that you use. I have stones of hard and soft Arkansas, India, soap stones and honing oils. I have razor strops, buffing wheels and they are all gathering dust.

Since 1980 the only sharpening tool I use is a Eze-Lap Diamond Hone. 

Table Of Contents -  Click on your choice of Information

How to Sharpen Carving Knives
The Eze-Lap Sharpening Technique
Unsolicited Commentary
The Eze-Lap Model 62f
Chisels, Planes, Drawknives and Other Tools
The Model 34f
The Model Lf
Break-In Note

How to Sharpen Carving Knives

To get you started let me quote from a study that Eze-Lap has done on the Angularity of knife blades.

"Our observations indicate that eighty-five percent of new knives have included angles of twenty to forty degrees. These factory-fresh knives will not shave hair, the common test for sharpness."

"In a study of knife edges that will shave hair, as used in Woodcarving, we observed that they all measure an included angle of fourteen degrees on a Jones & Lamson comparator."

What Eze-Lap is referring to is a wedge, the thinner the wedge the easier the penetration into the wood.

Eze-Lap goes on to say, 'We find the Optimum cutting angle to be seven to ten degrees on a side, which is a fourteen to twenty degree included angle. This angle produces the best combination of sharpness and durability."

This included angle can be checked by making a template. Take a piece of Mylar, and with a sharp pencil and a protractor draw a vee (14°). Cut the vee out with a sharp knife and use this template to compare the angle on your carving tools.

Eze-Lap goes on to say, "Further we have observed that many knives are actually dulled by sharpening at ten to fifteen degrees on a side. Sharpening at this great an angle results in metal particle pull-out from the cutting edge, regardless of the metallurgy of the steel or the abrasive medium, when moderate to heavy sharpening pressure is used. Of course a shaving edge can be achieved at a forty degree or even larger included angle if very light sharpening pressure is used over a long period on time."

Eze-Lap has found that their Diamond sharpeners, with a lightening of pressure, achieved the razor edge with minimal particle pull-out. Their findings show that by reducing from fifteen to seven degrees on a side, you gain about forty percent in edge serviceability. This means a better cutting edge with nearly twice the life created.

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The Eze-Lap Sharpening Technique

The natural wobble in the hand and arm motion will give a perfect angle. To prove this fact to yourself, use a black felt tip marker and mark each side of the cutting edge, then observe the brightness where the ink is ground away with the metal all along the area behind and on the cutting edge, the technique really works.

I think most of you will get the results you need with this technique, but should you desire to use a strop or buffer, then use it. If you have your own technique of blade sharpening, such as traveling in one direction with your blade, try it that way. Just remember the pressure.

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Unsolicited Commentary

"You were right Guy, these diamond hones are a sharpening wonder. The edge that can be produced is outstanding. I found that to put the final razor edge on a blade took a very light series of strokes with your hone. If you put too much pressure the blade would not come up to edge. After years of using conventional stones it only takes a minor adjustment to change to yours. A great product."

"I would certainly say that your diamond hone is far faster and gives as good an edge as any other stone I have used. It is a good supplement for some touch-up sharpening for me."

In "The Diamond Edge," which is a paper put out by Eze-Lap, is an article prompted by a "Traditional Japanese Carver" that now uses these Diamond hones for his tools and flattening the bellies in his water stone.

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The Eze-Lap Model 62f

The Eze-Lap model 62f is a 6" x 2" diamond surface on a walnut block. It is a good looking addition to anyone's bench. The surface contains self-sharpening diamonds over the total surface. Self-sharpening is due to the controlled surface and the array of selected Diamond crystals. As you use the 62f more diamond microcrystals are exposed. Each square inch consists of 52 billion particles, each having sharp Diamond micro-edges available to sharpen your blades. Eze-Lap holds patents for a heat treating process that makes their hones very durable. They offer to cut through other media (including other diamond sharpeners) and still have the ability to sharpen your knives.

I advise that you need only the Fine grit because of the way this hone cuts. If you press much stock is removed very quickly and when you lighten the pressure, you get the high polish and razor edge you want.

You do not need water or oil as a coolant or lubrication, but you can use it. The 62f will not clog up and allows a positive cutting action every time you go across it.

The size of the 62f is sufficient for most of your needs because the large surface sharpens faster and it allows the use of a sharpening fixture, should you want to use one. I demonstrated this to myself before the show by sharpening a Spoke Shave iron, so that I could tell you.

If you use a carving knife with a handle that will not clear the walnut base, chamfer the edge away. Some of the carvers, that are already using the 62f, have glued a piece of leather to the bottom instead of attaching the feet.

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Chisels, Planes, Drawknives and Other Tools

What angles do I want on my carving chisels?

I am going to quote "Stanley Tools," from their "Tool Guide" booklet, because they have been making chisels and other cutting tools as long as anyone. "The right Grinding angle, is about twenty-five to thirty degrees. Whetting angle thirty to thirty-five degrees."

The reason Stanley recommends these angles is what I will discuss next. When I learned to sharpen chisels, I was taught to Hollow Grind the chisel. This was for a couple of good reasons, the first being that the cutting edge becomes a small wedge. The second reason was that the honing, with a natural stone, could not remove much material and could be hard to control. The hollow grind leaves a very small section of primary angle on the chisel to hone. When the hollow grind was removed by honing, I would re-hollow grind.

With the Eze-Lap Diamond hones, you will find that once your chisels are sharp, the hone will cut the heel just as easily as the cutting edge. You need never grind again unless your blade chips or breaks.

It would be hard to use the circular motion described in the knife sharpening technique on most chisels, so use the motion that you use with the natural stones remembering the two pressure Eze-Lap recommendation. This holds true for any of the tools you need to sharpen. Remember the Diamond surface cuts quickly and effortlessly.

The same can be said for the angle of the chisels, as we discussed with the knife blades. If you find your chisels cut better with a lesser angle, they are your chisels, make them work for you.

You will find that when you use the Eze-Lap Diamond hones, you can hone in any direction and you will not raise a feather edge that has to be stropped off. Hone the cutting angle and then, very lightly, touch the bottom to make sure it is flat (no bevel). On your gouges rotate the gouge as you hone it on the Diamond pad, you will get used to this.

On Plane and Spoke Shave irons the information from Stanley is valid. A slight radius on the corners of the iron makes it easier to blend cuts. Draw Knives are sharpened in the same way, just lay them almost flat and draw them across the Diamond surface.

Some of you may be using Gravers for small detail work. They are handled the same way as the chisels. An Engraver on Cape Cod says, "When I used the natural stones, the fine edges of my gravers showed a burn mark, this means they were being drawn down. Using the Eze-Lap system, they do not exhibit this burn. To polish my gravers I go right from the Diamond hone to a "Ruby Stone." Very simple and effective.

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The Model 24f

The Eze-Lap 24f is a 3" x 1" Diamond surface that comes on a walnut paddle and with the addition of the supplied feet, becomes a smaller bench stone. Everything we discussed about the 62f pertains to the 24f except the size. The reason I suggest the 24f is that its' price is less then half of the 62f. Even though we want to have the best tools that money can buy, we all have budgets.

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The Model Lf

The model L is a small 2" x 5/8" Diamond hone on a plastic paddle and fits right into your shirt pocket. It is very handy for light touch-ups in the middle of a job.

Recently I made a prototype Butt Stock for the "Advanced Combat Rifle," in my position as a contract engineer. The major manufacturer wanted it out of wood, yet had only bits and pieces of old gun stocks, that were lying around. I had to develop a blank by gluing together bits and pieces of old stocks. As I carved my chisel had to pass through dirt, old finishes and glued joints. With the model Lf, that I kept in my pocket, light touch-ups were all that was needed to keep cutting sharp.

One of the nicest things about the Eze-Lap Diamond hones are that light touch-ups really keep you cutting sharp.

It was a pleasure to discuss sharpening with you and all of the carvers that passed through the Eze-Lap booth at the recent show. I hope this information can help make your job easier. The models mentioned in this treatise can be purchased from your local supplier or from:

ARMATT G. S., Inc.

335 Gay Road
Zebulon NC 27597
E-Mail armatt@aol.com


The prices of these products vary slightly since neither I nor Eze-Lap can tell someone else what to charge. These are suggested retail prices.

Model 62f  - $27.50
Model 34f - $9.50
Model Lf  -  $5.00

Compare these Diamond Products to natural stones and our competitor's diamond prices. You will agree that we do not change premium prices for American Made Quality Diamond Products.

Break-In Note

All of the Eze-Lap Diamond Hones need a break-in and this is performed by sharpening all of your kitchen knives before you use the hones on your carving tools. This removes the surface layer of the plating that holds the diamonds in place. Now you have all of those Diamond points ready to work for you, and sharp kitchen knives to boot.

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