"A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife" Not sure who first coined that phrase but when it comes to carving, I have to agree. I've used a dull knife and it's not fun…and not safe. I tell people that stop by and talk to me that you shouldn't have to put a lot of muscle behind the knife when carving, especially the kind of pieces that I carve. I carve with basswood and aspen and neither needs much muscle if the blade is sharp. I know that when my hands start to get sore, there's a good chance it's time to strop! Stropping is key to keeping a sharp edge on a knife and is the only sharpening I do unless I end up with a burr on the edge. The wood will show you when you have a burr on the edge of your blade by leaving a nice, white stripe in the wood after you run your knife through it. Depending on how bad the burr is will determine if you need to put it on a stone or if you can hone it using a strop or even a cotton buffing wheel. I think that many people have stopped carving due to dull tools and even more because they keep getting cut. One other thing is to make sure you know if new tools you purchase are already sharpened or if you will need to put the edge on them. Not all tools arrive pre-sharpened and this will obviously create some serious frustration if you try to carve with them.