Need some help sharpening gouges...

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Forum topic by KiddFunkadelic posted 08-18-2013 01:42 PM 2652 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 2317 days

08-18-2013 01:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource jig tip

It seems as though the internet is awash with articles about sharpening plane blades and chisel blades, what with all the talk of back bevels and micro bevels and micro-micro bevels, but there is decidedly little about sharpening curved blades. I do a lot of spoon carving, and occasionally need to sharpen my gouges. I do not own a grinder or any other sort of power sharpener; I do all of my sharpening on some very coarse diamond stones followed by some Shapton water stones. So, I’m hoping someone else out there has some advice on hand sharpening curved blades. I own the Oar jig, but I’m not super impressed with it. I’ve tried free handing to tools on the stones, but my muscle memory just ain’t there yet, and I prefer to use jigs. Who can help a fool out? And please, no suggestions that I buy a Tormek or a Wolverine jig. Those aren’t in the budget, nor is there space in my apartment.


6 replies so far

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2039 days

#1 posted 08-18-2013 02:12 PM

I’m not much on the technique – I can burn a chisel or gouge just sharpening by hand with a feather…

But here are my current implements of destruction:

I made a wheel out of MDF for my lathe, covered it with sharpening compound from a tube:

It’s good for honing, but won’t help if you need to regrind. But you can shape it to any profile(s) you choose.

For general sharpening I use slipstones. They have the concave and convex sides and are tapered. It takes a lot of work for me to keep my hand positioned just right without rocking. Others don’t seem to have that problem, maybe I’m just spastic.

And I just got done sharpening a bunch of hollow cutters for a plane and I used a few of these. I found it very easy to hold the blade in my left hand with my arm tight at my side to steady it, and short strokes with the stone in my right at a set angle. They come in different grits and thicknesses. I like the 600g India Nortons for normal stuff, but I have a rougher black one that takes out nicks super-fast.

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View waho6o9's profile


8191 posts in 2577 days

#2 posted 08-18-2013 02:38 PM

A walnut dowel, a semi circle maple piece and a piece of leather loaded
with honing compound works for me.

I put the leather in either one and hone away, sometimes I use a clamp, or
clamp it in the work bench, etc…..

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3282 days

#3 posted 08-18-2013 03:02 PM

I sharpen a lot of profiled tools. Because I make them, I need a system to go from rough shape to finished quickly. I’ve found flex shaft grinders invaluable to this and for maintaining the tools I use in my work. I’ve got a DVD out through Lie-Nielsen on sharpening profiled tools:

I don’t know of a jig that works for the variety of profiled tools and gouges available. Free handing is actually easy if you understand the process.

You can also use the virtuous and rubberized points in a variable speed drill. We didn’t include links to the points and other items I use because they’re links to supplier catalog pages which seem to change annually. If you need help with sources just ask.

View KiddFunkadelic's profile


19 posts in 2317 days

#4 posted 08-19-2013 02:09 AM

Cool, thanks for the advice so far. I’ll give them all a shot and see what works well for me.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1825 days

#5 posted 08-19-2013 02:16 AM

Hi Marco, You can also try and type in a search “Sharpening woodturning gouges” and you will get a bunch of how to videos. There is a lot of how to stuff on youtube…some very good some not so. You just have to weed out the good stuff and use it if it works for you personally.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2890 days

#6 posted 08-19-2013 02:58 AM

Chris Pye (carver) web site.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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