Sharpening Round Gouges

Sharpening Carving Tools

Round Gouges and V-Chisels

By L.S. Irish

Working a fine edge on a rounded gouge can drive anyone crazy! So to help make this work easier for you, let’s create a gouge honing board.

Click here for a larger picture of the gouge honing board.

You will need some scrap basswood, rouging compound, a bench knife, and the gouges and chisels that you want to sharpen. I say “scrap basswood” here, but you will want to pick a fairly nice piece since once you make this board you will be reusing it.

  1. Cut a positive profile into the board using the gouge that is to be sharpened. This simply means to cut down into the wood for several strokes until you have created a deep trough that fits your gouge.
  2. About 1/4″ away from the positive profile begin cutting a negative profile with the same tool. Turn the tool upside down for the cutting stroke. A bench knife can be used to square off the edges of the trough.
  3. A cross section of the honing board would look like the image below.

  1. Using an older knife (not the one that has your best edge!) scrap rouging compound into the two profiles. This will scrap off as dust, laying a layer down into the troughs. Now with the gouge and using a pull stroke pack the rouge firmly into the profiles. It may take several scrapings and packings to get a good layer developed.
  2. You now have created a depression that exactly fits your gouge! Your tool can now be laid into the profile and pulled across the rouging compound to create that perfect sharp edge.

Repeat this process for each of your round gouges and v-chisels.

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