Joel at Tools for Working Wood has written an excellent blog entry about the importance of keeping your carving tools sharp. And not just kinda sharp but really really sharp. Most carving projects don’t have any room for sanding out tear-out; your tools must be sharp enough to cut in any direction without tearing any wood fibers. Perfect, clean cuts can only be made with an edge that is as sharp as possible.
I’ll take this opportunity to flog my book, The Perfect Edge, The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers which has a chapter on sharpening carving tools as well as chapters for sharpening most of the hand tools you use everyday in your shop. Hard bound copies are going fast as the paperback edition has arrived from the printer and is being shipped from the publisher. Makes a great gift!
If… you don’t own a book on sharpening, I think “The Perfect Edge” should be at the top of the list — Christopher Schwarz, Woodworking Magazine Weblog