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'V' for Victory - Easy way to sharpen your 'V' Carving Chisel

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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-07-2011 07:35 PM 4007 reads 4 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Instead of helping anyone, this blog might just show the depth of my ignorance. I’ve been getting back to doing a little carving lately (only on rest breaks). This brought to mind the need to hone my various carving chisels. However, there is one chisel in my kit that has always been a personal nightmare for me. THE ‘V’ CHISEL. I put that in capitals to emphasize my fear of this tool. My problem has been getting a proper grind on it. Honing is no problem, as it is just to follow the grind to a polished finish and take raw edge with a ‘v’ stone.

I thought perhaps there might be others (or maybe just one other) who have struggled with this chisel like myself. At least I hope there is, just so I won’t be the only one in the world (it can get pretty lonely down here). So that’s the reason for the blog. Both to brag about finding out how to grind this simple chisel after only 15 years and to help some other poor soul in the same boat.

My only (weak) defense is that I hardly ever do any carving, but Marty (Chip) has renewed my interest. A few days ago I decided to take up the gauntlet and have another go at grinding my ‘v’ chisel. After losing yet another inch I once again gave up, then I remembered the first book I bought on carving written by a Norwegian wood carver, Lars Eggen, a reprint from 1980. The book is for beginners and it covers the sharpening of the various types carving chisels and knives. I guess I missed the part about ‘V’ chisel sharpening the first time around or maybe I just didn’t understand it (that happens a lot to me). Anyway, to make a long story longer, there was the solution!!!! Here it is (finally!).

As you can see in photo 1, I have placed the iron onto the grinding wheel centered on the bottom of the ‘V’ and at a 20 degree angle. I’m not sure 20 degrees is optimal, but it seems to cut well enough at this angle. Do the following steps.

1. Grind the bottom right through the ‘v’. That’s right you will have an open slot when finished.

2. Roll the iron to the left and right just like you would a gouge. Take it easy (light touch) and go for a smooth grind and even with both sides even when finished.


3. Hone your correctly ground chisel to a brilliant finish with the method of your choice ( I use my 1200 grit diamond stone and a sharp edged Arkansas slip stone to remove the inside raw edge)

4. My proof that it actually cuts. It’s a small shaving, but my chisel is small, only 3mm.

This is what your chisel will look like if ground properly. I am 100% sure that there are other correct ways to sharpen this chisel. Some of them maybe better than I’ve shown here, but this is very easy for a beginner to master
and most importantly, it will cut properly. So if you have been struggling like myself then I hope you will give this a try. thanks for reading.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.



17 comments so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12293 posts in 2786 days


#1 posted 05-07-2011 07:42 PM

Great post. Thanks.

Yesterday I was checking Ron Hock’s blog and his latest post was related to this topic. He has a link to a free 102 page ebook (donation to charity requested) on sharpening v-Tools. The book is authored by master woodcarver Chris Pye. I downloaded the book and sent it to my Kiindle. I have only had a chance to scan the book but it looks great.

http://hocktools.wordpress.com/

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1804 days


#2 posted 05-07-2011 08:25 PM

thank´s for the toturial Mike

take care
Dennis

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4146 posts in 1545 days


#3 posted 05-07-2011 08:28 PM

Thanks Mike

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View stefang's profile

stefang

13293 posts in 2023 days


#4 posted 05-07-2011 08:46 PM

Thanks for taking the time to send me this link Wayne. I have a great book by Chris Pye, but with all due respect he isn’t in the same class as Lars Eggan as a woodcarver. While he definitely knows how to sharpen a ‘V’ chisel, it looks like a very long and drawn out process to me. I only took about 1 minute to grind mine and a couple of minutes honing, and my shaving looks just as good as Chris Pye’s. I am, however, really grateful to learn what a really great method I’ve learned from my little beginner’s book. I hope you don’t think I’m being smart alecky here Wayne, as that is not my intention, nor to rack down on Chris Pye who is a renowned woodworker.

Thanks also to Dennis and Jamie for your positive comments. I’ll bet you guys knew this all along.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1804 days


#5 posted 05-07-2011 08:56 PM

no Mike this was new to me :-)
and I´m not a carver either …. but I gess it will come in handy when I got to make and sharpen
the V-cutter on my threadmaker when the time comes to make woodenscrews :-)
just with a steaper angle I gess

take care
Dennis

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1853 days


#6 posted 05-07-2011 09:03 PM

I will file this away in my brain for when I get to carving. In Seattle at the airport at the moment. Heading back to Anchorage today…......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dave's profile

Dave

11184 posts in 1529 days


#7 posted 05-07-2011 09:06 PM

Mine has been giving me fits. Thanks Mike as always your tips are useful;)

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View stefang's profile

stefang

13293 posts in 2023 days


#8 posted 05-07-2011 09:31 PM

Dennis Thank you for mentioning that. I too have to sharpen my thread cutter and i have also failed at that in the past. However, I have to thread sizes, but with identical cutters. One is still ok, so I use it for both tools. It didn’t occur to me that with my new found skill I can sharpen it properly now. I ruined the other one.

Jim Good to hear from you. Are you reconsidering the power carving?

Dave It’s good to know I’m not alone and that there’s someone out there. My blog is officially not in vain.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12293 posts in 2786 days


#9 posted 05-07-2011 11:23 PM

I just saw the resource and posted the info. I thought the info might be of use to you and the others on the site.

I have some carving tools and a box of basswood. I’m going to play around with carving some this summer. I have this plan to sit up by one of the high mountian lakes and do some whittling. Going to be a while before I can get up there with all the snow (and my #@#% broken leg).

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1473 posts in 2254 days


#10 posted 05-07-2011 11:36 PM

I’m on the “going to do carving someday boat” too so this info will come in handy, Thanks Mike.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1853 days


#11 posted 05-08-2011 04:11 AM

Mike
I have a few carving chisels…..starter set, and some power stuff. I am going to force myself to just do some fun stuff this summer. I will experiment with both. My wrists are my weak point and I need them for surgery. So I will probably do a little of both. Actually, it is one of the aspects of woodworking that really interest me. I actually carved a few crude objects as a kid. So…got to finish a blog on the vacation house shop. And then finsh that minibench, then finish the TS dust collection. Then I will get some good wood and start experimenting. Simple stuff first….......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile

stefang

13293 posts in 2023 days


#12 posted 05-08-2011 07:27 PM

Wayne, Tim, Jim and Mike (me) All potential woodcarvers. There’s no better time to start than now. Do it while you sit on the terrace (or a mountain top) or any other place of your choosing. I’m posting a blog about my carving practice session today in awhile. I hope it might inspire you to give it a go.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile

mafe

9561 posts in 1778 days


#13 posted 05-08-2011 11:30 PM

Hi Mike,
Thank you! That was usefull, I have not used my carving chisels yet, so my V should be sharp, but I look forward to use this simple way.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1853 days


#14 posted 05-09-2011 12:27 AM

OK, perhaps I should just go get some wood and start playing, I have some ideas for a piece. You are apparently using various woods, I’ll have to see if I can find some basswood locally, don’t want to do in the wrists. Thanks for the incentive…it might be a good idle moment thing.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View DaleM's profile

DaleM

922 posts in 2073 days


#15 posted 05-09-2011 01:47 AM

Thanks Mike. I had a really hard time too until I found Chris Pye’s website. He has some great info on there about carving and sharpening carving tools. I tried to post the link here for his method of sharpening the V chisel but all of his links just go back to the homepage now. If I see that he has that fixed, I’ll post that, not that you really need it from the looks of things.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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