restoring gouges

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    Hi, I bought a couple of old 10 mm gouges. I tried sharpening one, and though it felt sharp, it didn’t cut well at all (I’ve sharpened plenty of straight blades, but only ever touched up gouges that were well ground to start with). When I looked online for tips (should have done that beforehand) I saw that in most gouges the cutting edge is 90 degrees to the length, while in both of mine the middle of the cutting edge extends beyond the two sides (if you’re looking at it from the top lying down the cutting edge is convex). When sharpening the one, I followed this shape.

    I just wanted to ask before I take a lot of metal off these nice old gouges if the cutting edge indeed has to be square and that’s the likely cause of it not cutting well at the moment. If it does, does anyone have any tips of how best to grind it straight, just working backwards taking the curve out (as if sharpening), or grind it square first and then start sharpening again (I normally grind by hand using rough sand paper – don’t have a grinder)?

    Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated!




    I believe Mary May says they should be square on the end.

    I’ve restored a few old gouges, and unless they are too short already I usually square them off.

    I find them easier to sharpen if squared.

    That said, you shouldn’t need to square them off to get them to cut effectively.

    I would check the angle of the bevel, and make sure they are sharp sharp.

    It may be that they have a weird bevel angle, having been shaped for some specific purpose by the previous owner.

    If the bevel angle is off normal you might have to approach he wood at an odd angle to get them to cut.


    Larry Geib

    Both types could be be handy, but you probably don’t need two rounded end gouges in the same size.

    Paul did a project a awhile back in which he uses both types to carve a rosette, using the rounded end gouge bevel up, mostly.

    Carving a Rosette

    You could grind one flat, try the project, then decide.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.

    Thanks Darren and Larry!

    It could well be then that I just didn’t get it sharp enough. As said, I have hardly ever sharpened a gouge, and definitely nothing that needed this much. I’ll try to fiddle with it a bit more then before grinding back to square.

    I’ll be sure to check out the video, Larry.

    Cheers, Sebastiaan


    Hi Darren and Larry,

    Only had time recently to look at the gouges again, but your advice was very helpful and they are cutting well now (I think my technique was faulty the first time and I had made it far too round – much rounder than Paul’s in that video you suggested Larry).

    Thanks again!

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