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, American in Norway