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protecting tools

i just purchased mary's beginner set of gouges from pfeil and another set of two cherries gouges and knives.  one of the reasons i purchased the two cherries set is because it comes with a storage box.  i haven't received the pfeil set yet so i don't know how they are packaged.    i see behind mary in her workshop many gouges/tools hanging on a wall and easily accessible, but it may be some time before i can arrange a carving studio like that.  what are the best ways to protect the edges on carving tools and how do i avoid accidents that could do real damage to some fine tools?

Hi Ed,

I'm pretty sure the Pfeil sets will come in their original plastic cases. There are several things to consider. Please don't pile them all into a box, with metal hitting against metal. I cringe when I hear students putting their tools away after class by grabbing them all in both of their hands, metal clanking against metal, and then just putting them into a box without any protection. If you are going to store them this way, you may want to get wine corks to protect the ends. But BE CAREFUL! One of my students did this with a carving knife (not a gouge) and she missed the cork and needed quite a few stitches.

Ideally, so you don't have to protect the ends of the tools, find a place to store them where the blades can be easily viewed, where they are not touching each other (especially the blades), where they are away from any moisture or the possibility of rusting, where they can be displayed in curvature (sweep) order, are easily removed (without prying them out of their holders and also potentially dangerous)... can't think of anything else at the moment.

I would not recommend storing them in a tool roll for long periods of time. The difficulty is if any moisture get in, you may not notice it for a while and your tools may rust. I have seen people make nice boxes with a small strip of wood separating the tools (sort of like a silverware drawer). This way you can customize the size of the space to fit larger and smaller tools. Hanging them on the magnetic strips has worked well for me. Occasionally the gouges get slightly magnetized, but I have never had a real issue with this.

I have also heard that storing the tools in a tight box with a small amount of parafin will save the tools from rusting. The parafin evaporates and leaves a slight coating on the tools. I haven't tried this, but I have heard people do this with hand planes and their expensive tools that they don't want to rust.

Treat your tools well, and they will treat you well!

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ed goldsmithBernhard BaumgardtCharles Hubbard


I have quite a few tools, many of which are older and had to be restored. My experience is that tools stored in areas with high moisture almost certainly have corrosion issues and tool rolls, leather rolls in particular because of acid used in the tanning process, will not, by themselves prevent rust. My storage, due to the volume, consists of a large divided tool box, some manufacturer tool cases and tool rolls. The shop has a dehumidifier and I oil my tools lightly with light mineral oil (baby oil since they are my "babies", the stuff is cheap and widely available) placed on a rag and run across the surfaces on occasion just to barely leave a film. Any time I use them I select the tools to be used, inspect them, hone them as necessary determined on how well they cut on test stock, (for some reason they sometimes dull a little in storage), use them, hone them again as necessary, wipe them down again, and return them to storage. Any tools found with corrosion or damage triggers inspection of the storage set (a particular roll, case, drawer) or maybe even the entire collection depending on how long it has been since the collection has been inspected. About once a year I will make it a point to pull all of the tools out and wipe them down. Besides, it gives me a chance to visit some of my old friends that I don't get to use very often, realize just how wonderful they are, and how lucky I am to have them. Since I adopted this routine none of my tools have been found with unexplained damage, the only minor corrosion has been with tools stored in leather rolls and I take extra care with those using a little extra oil on them. Tools used in high moisture wood (bushcraft) get a little extra attention before storage. Tools are grouped by type (spoon, large sized, antique sets or new sets, palm tools) and that seems to help prevent tools from knocking together. Ideally I should have a frequently used set in a portable divided storage tray just to make it quicker to bring them to the bench and I will probably do that in the near future.  Currently, my most frequently used sets are in rolls and I just bring the whole roll to the bench, adding any additional tools I might need for a specific project. I don't keep my carving tools at the bench because I use the area for other types of woodworking. Hope this helps.

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MaryMayed goldsmith

I've stored my tools in rolls for years and have never had a rust problem. It does help that I live in So. California which is not very humid. To protect myself from getting cut while reaching for a tool in the roll I've recently added Wood River Silicone Chisel Guards to the ends of my gouges. Even though they are mainly designed for flat chisels they work very well with my gouges. Right now Woodcraft has them at 50% (4.99) for a set of 10. It took me about 3 sets to cover all of my gouges.

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