Sunday 19 February 2012

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.


  1. Great video on sharpening, I have always wanted to carve spoons fr. green birch but never did because I thought the hook knife would be such a pain to sharpen I never bothered, thanks for this.

  2. Really great videos, Sean. Thank you so much!

    After you use the 180 grit wet and dry paper to begin the honing process, what other grits follow before stropping?

  3. Very informative and I really like the blade case you made. Thank you.

  4. Good work Sean, very philanthropic of you to take the time to produce learning aids like this.

  5. Thanks for the comments.
    Tico, I went from 180 to 600 and then stropped. There are no hard and fast rules, but I would buy 180, 400, 800, 1200, 2000.

  6. Really helpful post, and for someone who is new to spoon carving, thanks :)

  7. Thank you, what a fantastic video. I was becoming very disheartened chewing chunks of wood away with my hook knife, now I can make shavings and firewood so more efficiently. Thanks again and for all the support you give to aspiring bodgers!

  8. really clear and helpful , Thanks.
    Martin Donnelly


Sorry, because of the huge amount of dubious people leaving spam comments for their useless stuff, I unfortunately have to bring back word verification.