Beautiful Carving Starts with a Keen Edge
Learn to sharpen a curved gouge and you’ll be able to handle most carving tools.
Synopsis: Don’t let the mechanics of how to sharpen a gouge keep you from using your carving tools. This article will teach you how to sharpen a curved gouge, one of carving’s most basic and useful tools. Dan Faia takes you through the process of grinding a smooth bevel on a grinding wheel, honing the tool on a set of oilstones, and stropping to a fine edge.
It is not the artistic side of carving that keeps some woodworkers from trying it, but the mechanics of how to sharpen the multitude of carving tools. This article will teach you how to sharpen a curved gouge, one of carving’s most basic and useful tools. Gouges of various widths and curvature (sweep) are used throughout the carving process: the initial roughing out, the “setting in” of the carving’s primary outlines, and the final details and finished surfaces. Some of the techniques you’ll learn also apply to other types of carving tools. on Finewoodworking.com, I’ll show how I sharpen two others.
Gather your equipment
To sharpen a gouge or any other carving tool, you need sharpening stones (one coarse stone, like an India stone, and one fine Arkansas). I use oilstones because they wear more slowly than other types of stones. If you plan to carve a lot, get a separate set of stones for your carving tools. otherwise, you’ll spend too much time keeping the stones flat for your straight-edge tools.
You’ll also need a fine, profiled slipstone, a leather strop, and a bench grinder with a tool rest. A slow-speed grinder is best, but a high-speed one with a white or pink wheel is fine, too.
Start by jointing the edge
The first thing to do with a new gouge is to…