|Project by Planeman40||posted 09-19-2015 08:20 PM||3233 views||12 times favorited||17 comments|
First of all the website wouldn’t allow a long and wide photo of the finished gouges so I had to break the long photos into two smaller photos. There are 31 completed socket-type gouges and 31 smaller and uncompleted tang-type gouges which I will prepare handles for this coming winter. You will note the last photo is of the uncompleted tang-type gouges. The photos show the finished socket-type gouges lined up on a mat so you can see the handles and also the gouges inserted into a tool roll.
I’ve always wanted a full set of carving gouges but didn’t want to spend $2,000 plus to buy them. Then I found out I could buy the rough hand forged and hardened steels directly from China for about $150 for a set of 62 forgings. These forgings are made in the southern Chinese city of Donyang which has been one of the major centers of wood carving in China since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907AD). The cutting tools come from the best blacksmith in Donyang. He still uses the centuries old traditional methods with these tools. The larger socket type carving gauges are made of double layered steel and have a cutting edge whose hardness is over (RC 60). The smaller tang type detail carving tools are made of a single layer of carbon steel (C60) with the hardness of (RC 58). Considering that the Chinese have been doing beautiful carvings from rosewood (which is like carving a brick) for centuries, I figured these would do just fine for me.
It took me three months to grind, polish, and sharpen the rough steels to a razor edge (my test is the easy shaving the hair from my arms, both of which were bald when the project was finished). I turned all of the handles from some Purpleheart I had lying around and made myself a duplicator for my wood lather to get this done. Getting the taper of the handles to fit properly into the steel gouge socket was a trick, however I developed a procedure of hand fitting that made a perfect match. The handles and steels are joined with some construction adhesive bought at Lowe’s, the kind that comes in a tube like caulking does. I wanted a strong adhesive with gap-filling abilities. The construction adhesive did the trick!
The gouges work great and really hold an edge! Its a lot of work. It does require a belt sander to grind the forgings. I used a 1” x 36” Delta belt sander (no longer made). The sharpening was done beginning with the belt sander for shaping of the blade with a little work also by a Dremel tool. From There I used diamond laps of various shapes and sizes followed by flat and round Arkansas stones. I finished up with a lot of stropping with some leather strops (that I made before this project). It was a fun project and I get a kick out of carving with tools I have made!
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