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Whittling with Chris: Sharpening a Knife

Learn how to sharpen a knife for safe, easy whittling


A sharp knife is a safe knife. That might not seem logical, but it’s true. You will have much greater control over a sharp knife, and be able to push it much more gently through the wood, than you will with a dull knife. Fortunately, sharpening isn’t hard and requires just a few simple tools:

  • Sharpening stone: fine grit
  • Sandpaper: wet/dry type in 400, 1500, 2500 grits (you can substitute old, worn-out sandpaper for the higher grits)
  • Leather strop
  • Stropping compound

Watch the video to learn Chris’s easy technique, plus his 10 Rules of Carving.


A child of missionaries, Chris Lubkemann grew up in the forests of Brazil and Peru, where he developed an appreciation for knives and entertained himself and others by handcrafting rafts, tree houses, traps, and slingshots from scrap wood. As an adult, he has continued to use his woodworking skills for gold old-fashioned fun. Chris has carved some of the world’s smallest branch carvings; in fact, his smallest branch rooster was given a Guinness World Record Certificate. The author of five books on woodcarving with Fox Chapel Publishing, Chris currently demonstrates whittling as the resident woodcarver at the Amish Farm and House in Lancaster, Pa. Visit his website at



Want to learn more about whittling?

Subscribe to Woodcarving Illustrated magazine, or visit our website to buy back issues. Check out our special issues all about Whittling. Visit our website to buy Chris Lubkemann’s books.



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