Let’s talk about woodcarving

Let’s talk about woodcarving 2017-06-26T23:59:57-05:00
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Fishtail Gouges ?

I am getting ready to carve the 2 Newport shells (concave and convex) and can not find 2 of the gouges Mary May lists on the DVD instructional videos. Specifically a #5 x 5 mm fishtail and a  #10 x  5mm fishtail. Anyone been able to find these gouges?

David Turner

Raleigh, NC

Hi David,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Been cruising through the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Life is rough. But I'm back!

You should be fine with a #5, 4mm or #5, 6mm or #10, 4mm or #10, 6mm. You can also go up or down a number, such as a #4 or #6 in similar sizes. You probably won't be able to find them in fishtail, as often anything less than 6mm do not come in fishtail. Hope this helps!


I have some fishtails but am put off by the fact that it seems that they wouldn't last as long as other shapes. Maybe I am "old school" but I would expect at least one lifetime out of my tool purchases. Have you tried the alongee tools as an alternative and what do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of them. Thanks.

Hi David,

I am brand new here but have been carving more than a few decades and I can tell you it would take a LONG time to use up fishtail tools.  I love them and have more than a few.  In fact I would like to be active enough to sharpen one away!!  I have used up turning tools though..... Cost of doing business as they say.

Here is where I buy all of my Pfeil tools.  Great service and prices but you have to wait for them to come from Canada but it's no big deal.


Hi to All:

Here's our website link for Pfeil Swiss Made Fishtails ...but of course we have ALL the Pfeil tools as well:


Happy to be of service to Mary's Students and Followers!

I have heard this argument against fishtails quite often, and I would still strongly recommend using fishtails. I have been carving for over 27 years, and none of my fishtails have gotten smaller - or at least that I can tell. If they have, it is such a small amount, that it doesn't really make a difference in the quality of the tool. The usefulness of the tools outweighs any potential issue. If for some reason it does get smaller, just think of it as a smaller tool, but still very useful 🙂

The only reason a tool should actually shorten in length is if it is dropped, broken, or chipped and would have to be re-shaped on a grinder. The microscopic amount that is taken off at each sharpening should not affect the length or shape.

So, the bottom line is - I love fishtails. In all the time I have been carving I have never had a tool that changed shape to such a drastic amount that it was no longer useful.