Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Do you carry the Pfeil Brienz collection ?

A.  We do not sell “sets” as such.  In the first place, there is no cost advantage in Pfeil sets – the price per tool is the same.  Secondly, in the Swiss way of thinking,  someone has to pay for the box, and so a boxed set of palm tools costs more because of the box, and in the case of the large wooden box for what is sometimes called “The Brienz Collection,” the box costs about $300.00!!!  Finally, and most important, when one buys a set,  he/she is getting tools that someone has found useful for their style of carving, but is unlikely to be exactly what another carver needs, and so that individual will have a set with several tools that he/she never uses.  It is better to start with four or five tools that have pretty much universal application and build a personalized selection from there by buying a few tools at a time as experience and need suggests.

Q.  On which carving tools can I use a mallet?

A.  A mallet, (not a metal hammer or the back of an axe!!) can be used on all of the straight handled Pfeil tools.  Obviously, care should be exercised in using one on the very small width tools.  Use care in using the mallet with V - tools (#s 12,13,14, 15, and 16) especially on dry and hard woods. It is possible to crack/break the metal because of the wedging action that tends to squeeze the wings of the V - tool together.  The same is true to a somewhat lesser extent concerning veiners (#11), especially in the smaller sizes.

The tools with the mushroom shaped handles (designated by the prefixes L and B) must not be struck with mallets.  They are for hand used only.

Q.  How do I get a razor sharp edge on a knife?

A.  When you sharpen,  lay the knife on the stone at about a 10 degree angle.  Use a fair amount of pressure as you rub the blade on the stone and try to maintain that angle as closely as you can.  Keep working on that side of the blade until you raise a burr on the other side of the edge.  This burr, or wire edge, must be evident for the entire length of the edge.  Do not turn the knife over until you have raised this burr.  Do not quit too soon.  If you don't get this burr or wire edge, you will have no hope at all of getting the knife really sharp.  Once you have raised the wire edge, then turn the knife over and do the same on the other side, until again you have raised the wire edge the other way.

Now turn the knife to the first side again, and with fairly light pressure give it 5 - 10 strokes, turn it over, give it 5 - 10, and repeat the procedure until you do not detect wire edge on either side.  It is essential that you maintain the 10 degree angle throughout this entire procedure.

Now you need a strop, which is just any old piece of leather glued to a flat stick and dressed with a good stropping compound.  Again maintaining the 10 degree angle, and with QUITE A BIT OF PRESSURE, pull the blade (that is with the edge trailing) along the strop. Be very careful to maintain the 10 degree angle throughout the entire stroke DO NOT ROLL THE KNIFE UP AND THE END OF THE STROKE, and do not run off the end of the strop.  Do not flip the knife over at the end of each stroke and come back the other way on the 
other side of the knife.  If you do, you will be anticipating the flip and almost certainly roll the knife up and as a result rub your edge off!  Just give it about 50 good strokes on one side and then do 50 on the other side, and you should be able to shave with the knife, and more importantly, make good feathers and whittle all kinds of neat stuff.  When you lose the edge a bit through normal whittlin'  just give it a few strokes on the strop and the edge will come right back.  I usually strop my knife on about 30 - 50 occasions before going back to the stone.  When you find that the edge only lasts for a few minutes before you need to strop again, then it is time to freshen up the edge on the stone. Remember to use fairly heavy pressure on the strop.  Don't use red jeweller's rouge.  Use white or green,zam or yellowstone or better yet - time for a commercial - Rick's White Lightnin'.

Q.  How do I sharpen a V tool?

A.  Very, very carefully!

This is a difficult thing to describe.  It is also a difficult thing to do!

Sharpening, and sharpening V-Tools in particular, is not something that can be learned by reading or watching.  It is like swimming.  You have to try.

Here are some suggestions though.

Use enough light and magnification so that you can clearly see what you are doing.  It is doubtful that this can be done by "feel".  (A knife can be done by "feel" but not a V - tool.)

Do one wing completely first, including stropping.  If you don't finish that one side first, the wire edge will obscure the true location of the actual edge.  Then do the other wing completely making sure of alignment with the first wing.  Be careful to use a bevel that is appropriate for the work and wood.  It is easy to concentrate on making the edges meet right and in the process to forget about the right bevel.

Now you will have the little plow - shaped point, but you should be able to see clearly enough, so that with careful work you can remove it without making a notch on the point.

Remember that you must put a slight radius - matching the radius on the inside of the tool - on the point of the V.  There are no V-tools without radii.  If you absolutely cannot stand a radius at the bottom of the cut, you will have to use a knife.



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