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60 degree v gouge

I've severely shortened a Pfeil 60 degree v gouge and its future doesn't look good... my sharpening attempts have resulted in rounded corners and a recessed notch in the center. These problems don't occur with my 90 degree v gouges(probably because I'm very careful with them).

I'm going to replace the nearly destroyed 60 degree tool with a new one, probably Stubai, and I don't want a repeat experience. While I admit to being a slight hamfist I'd like to know if anyone has suggestions on how to effectively sharpen a 60 degree v-tool


Don't feel too bad. Many carvers find that parting tools are among the most difficult to sharpen. Mary has a video on the subject and I recommend it. There are several ways to go about it but this is what works best for me when starting with a bad tool. MAGNIFICATION HELPS TREMENDOUSLY. I always approach it with the concept of shaping and then sharpening with the first step being squaring the leading "edge" (end) either at the stone or at the grinding  wheel depending on the  original condition of the tool. Always be careful with a grinding wheel to prevent any overheating. This creates a slight flat on the tool end that can be used to guide further sharpening efforts. I then either use the tool on the stone or the grinding tool to establish the wing bevels using a light touch and frequently checking to see how the process is affecting the end flat. The work on the bevels should result in an even width flat along the wing from the wing tips toward the keel (or root). stop any use of the grinding wheel or heavy grit stone while there is still a hint of the flats left. Be sure and buff and/or strop the tool to make sure that you aren't looking at a burr instead an actual flat. At his point I usually stone or use fine abrasive paper to eliminate any grinding marks on the interior surfaces and start the polishing process. A folded piece of abrasive paper is great for working the interior root radius.  your tool should have equal bevels and the slightest of  flat on each wing That completes the shaping operations.

The actual sharpening process begins on a fine stone (or abrasive paper attached to a flat surface. TAKE YOUR TIME as it is easy to undo all of your work up to this point. Find the bevel flat on the stone and work it as you would any other tool, checking the progress on the bevel and the end flat. Again, you will need to check frequently and work slowly to make sure it is progressing as you want without damaging the tool. Be aware that a burr will eventually develop and you will need to make sure you are not confusing the burr for a flat on the end. Slow speed and care are your greatest friend. Repeat the process for the other wing . Your goal is to establish an edge matching the interior surface while keeping the wing straight and square with the body of the tool. A "point" will naturally form at the keel as the edges of the two wings reach the desired configuration.  Go ahead and strop/buff the tool to eliminate any burrs. The only thing that remains is to (fine) stone the keel (which I do at a lower angle/longer bevel than the wings) to match the interior radius of the root/keel and you can tell when you have achieved the desired result by the lack of the "point" and the lack of of a receded keel edge . Again, this should be done slowly, to prevent undercutting the wings. Also be sure to strop on occasion to prevent mistaking a burr for a "point. Try the tool across grain or in a "s" pattern on a sample of basswood. The tool should cut cleanly from all surfaces and the cut and the tool should be inspected to determine if there are any subsequent flaws in the work. All of the cuts should be clean with no tear out and the edge of the tool should show no flats or burrs. If there are any of the above then try stropping the tool again and retry it before returning to the stone. Carefully correct any flaws and remember that it is EXTREMELY easy to mess up all the good work by simply being too aggressive. Don't get too worked up if the tool looks imperfect if it cuts well. Many a great performing tool got used up because it looked imperfect. Stropping will take care of most regular maintenance and, if it becomes necessary, use a light touch on a fine stone to avoid changing the shape of the tool.

I would be willing to try and try and correct your tool for you if you want. Your tool may be shortened but most well used tools still have life left in them even after they  have lost some length. I have had to throw a few old tools out as hopeless but very few. If nothing else, donate to your local carving club and let someone else have a go at it.

Have fun.

Tom Weir has reacted to this post.
Tom Weir

Hi Alan,

It's so easy for the v-chisel to go wrong quickly. It sounds like you may have used a too aggressive stone to begin with, but it's difficult to tell. If the stone you are using creates scratch marks on the metal, you may want to go to something finer. Rounding the outside corners generally comes from placing it on the stone at a slightly different angle each time and creating several different "facets" on each flat side. The little notch at the v often comes from tipping the tool too high when you are sharpening (softly rounding) the outside corner, and therefore too much metal comes off quickly right at that corner.

The most critical things with sharpening v-chisels is consistency. Each time you lift the tool to look at the bevel, it's important that when you set it back on the stone it is in exactly the same position and angle. I often keep everything positioned the same as I sharpen - don't reposition your hand or grip, or I even resist repositioning the position of my feet.

I hope this helps.

Tom Weir has reacted to this post.
Tom Weir