Gouge Sharpening


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In this video Joseph shows how to sharpen a gouge using all the same equipment as sharpening a straight-edged chisel. Gouges are great for cutting out curved areas such as wooden spoons or chair seats.


  1. Ken on 29 November 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Nice job Joseph, thanks for this one. 😉

  2. Eddy Flynn on 29 November 2013 at 1:36 pm

    thanks Joseph lets hope father christmas remembers to bring me some of these gouges

  3. David R. on 29 November 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for taking the time for this video, Joseph. Could you explain briefly, how you would polish the inside of a gouge? I think the one I have will need it.


    • Joseph Sellers on 29 November 2013 at 2:07 pm

      I would use a plane to make a round on the edge of a board that fits as closely as possible to the curve of the gouge. Then wrap very fine sandpaper (not courser than 400 grit), then go through a couple of other grits (perhaps 800 and 1200 grit). Finally glue some leather, rough side out, on the rounded edge and put some buffing compound on it. Finish up by buffing on that.

      Let me know if you have more questions.

      • David R. on 29 November 2013 at 2:17 pm

        I think I get the picture, that should do. Thanks.

      • wilkinsb on 29 November 2013 at 8:51 pm

        What about “slip stones”, especially one known as the wave featuring the ability to tackle both the inside and outside edges?
        Looks like you’re taking over the sharpening side of the business and becoming quite the maven! We’ll done.
        Bob “Mygrandadsaw”

        • Joseph Sellers on 23 December 2013 at 11:17 am

          Hi Bob,

          Slipstones can be really useful, especially on small gouges. I personally don’t see any advantage to using a curved stone to sharpen the outside of the gouge. Flat works fine.

  4. John Purser on 29 November 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for this Joseph. I was in the garage the day before this posted trying to do the “figure 8” method and all I can say for the results is “That can’t be right!”. Clearly I need remedial instruction.

  5. davewilkinson on 29 November 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this Joseph. I noticed you didn’t wet the stones. Can you use diamond stones dry?(I’m thinking more for chisels and plane irons)

    • Joseph Sellers on 29 November 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Hmm, Paul would’t use dry stones but I hate the mess. You would probably get slightly better results with wet stones but as long as I clean them regularly (with some sort of metal working degreaser) I don’t run into many problems.

  6. karlg on 29 November 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for this special episode. For the inside polishing (burr removal), I have used ceramic rods in the past. Do you have any comments?

  7. Greg Merritt on 29 November 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you and well done Joseph. I look forward to seeing more videos from you.

  8. Anonymous on 29 November 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks Joseph. Really helpful that!

    • Mihai on 30 November 2013 at 1:21 am

      Thanks Joseph, good points marked in this video ! As a beginner , I can say that figure of eight is very usefull to make a good gouge out of…two .Thanks for the tips with the rim of the strope.

      @ Segio and @ David R : Hi !
      Although I am not required to answer , (nice aquisition , Sergio !) – the round strope – can be achieved by shaping the ( both ) rims of a plank edge with the very gouge to be sharpened , and using – as Joseph said – a plane to shape the rest of the rim.Use the leather (inner face -up) to wrap the shaped rim. The method is described in the Master’s book , and is very reliable.Enjoy.

  9. Krzysztof K on 29 November 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Great video, I was waiting for you to cover this topic!

    For us having bought some old gouges, Paul has blogged before on restoring these to useful state:

    Now I’m waiting for lesson on sharpening moulding planes…

  10. Mark Armstrong on 29 November 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Very enjoyable Joseph 😉

  11. John Moore on 29 November 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Now I can sharping my gouges with better results. Thanks

  12. STEVE MASSIE on 29 November 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Joseph Thank You for this special addition as it comes at a very timely time. I bought a used Phiel a couple weeks back and was hoping to use it tomorrow as it could stand a little attention. i do not own any Diamond Plates yet but have Sigma Power Water Stones and of course i do have a strop. This was very helpful explaining the mechanic’s on how to sharpen a gouge. Thanks again !


  13. António on 29 November 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Nice and simple!

  14. Florian on 29 November 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I wonder who those “people” might be who advocate the figure of eight pattern 😉

  15. mchickm on 29 November 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks Joseph ! good stuff..

  16. jpdorn on 29 November 2013 at 8:39 pm

    great video joseph. you’re quite a skilled educator. would love to see more from you in the future. i would be particularly interested in areas where you may have ‘diverged’ from your father’s teachings with a bit of discussion around why you prefer your methods..

  17. garyprott on 29 November 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Nicely done Joseph. Thank you for taking the time to show how you sharpen the gouge. If I’m not careful I just might learn something. (smile) Thanks again, Gary.

  18. david o'sullivan on 29 November 2013 at 10:24 pm

    thank you. very interesting

  19. antoniop on 29 November 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Joseph,
    thank you for this inspirational video. I was sharpening my gouge using Paul method on the sharpening dvd. I will give a try to this method. It’s always good to learn new skills. Just a question: you said that you use a four size strop…Does that mean that you use for different compound? could you tell wich are they?

    • Joseph Sellers on 23 December 2013 at 11:22 am

      Yes, I use four different compounds on my strop. However, I bought them six years ago and the packaging is long gone so I can’t tell you exactly what they are.

      Here is what I do know. The coarsest is grey and is courser than the green that Paul uses. The second is identical to Paul’s green compound. Then, there is some light grey which is finer and finally a red-brown which is extremely fine and crumbly.

      Sorry I can’t tell you more. At one time I knew the grits and brands but it has been a few years.

  20. juryaan on 29 November 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Thank you ,Joseph
    I needed this one

  21. Bobbie Eiler on 30 November 2013 at 1:20 am

    Thank you! Your dad talks of you so often, I’m glad ‘to meet’ you! I can see why he’s so proud.

  22. Craig on 30 November 2013 at 1:35 am

    Thank you Joseph.

  23. Sandy on 30 November 2013 at 2:26 am

    Right on time with this video. I just bought two gouges and i’m not happy with the edges. I was wondering how i would get that really fine edge like on my chisles. Can’t wait to get home and give it a go!

  24. Dave Deady on 30 November 2013 at 7:15 am

    I’m thoroughly enjoying all the video guidance and instruction. I never thought at the age of 70 I would be reporting that! Spent all my life working in the NHS and now, found a rich aspect of interest. So, as before – More strength to your elbow(s). Warmly and thanks!

  25. davebulow on 30 November 2013 at 9:28 am

    Many thanks for this video! I was going to ask if there was any chance of a gouge-sharpening video at some point in the future, and then, before I knew it…..! Thank you very much for this instructional video! Well done Joseph!

    It’s great to have so many technique videos here on the site now.

  26. Mgolfyork on 30 November 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I was wondering if this method could be applied to a turning gouge?

    • Joseph Sellers on 23 December 2013 at 11:27 am

      Probably in some cases. However, bear in mind that turning gouges are often made from much hard material than carving gouges. This makes them much more difficult to sharpen by hand.

  27. knightlylad on 30 November 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Excellent lecture, thank you.

  28. Carlos J. Collazo on 1 December 2013 at 3:50 am

    Thank you, Joseph for this great, useful video on the 2nd method of gouge sharpening. I remember reading in Paul’s book where he states that there are two good, recognized methods of sharpening gouges. The figure-of-eight one he went into in detail but for the other one the chapter finished without having a chance to delve into the alternate one. It’s masterful of the Team to have the two methods now demonstrated for us in detail.

  29. ballinger on 3 December 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks Joseph, I’ve been cutting letters recently for CHRISTMAS text and I had a go at sharpening one of my gouges for the first time. I was only guessing at how to approach it and I definitely need to polish the inside curve. Your video came in at just the right time!

  30. kpinvt on 10 December 2013 at 12:40 am

    Thank you Joseph. Nice touch to use the flat strop in the vise to polish the inside. This is the first time I’ve heard your voice.

  31. norm lafond on 13 December 2013 at 9:02 pm


    Could you do a video on sharpening a paring gouge? This was absolutely excellent on a firmer gouge. But I also have some paring gouges and I need help with those as well.

    By the way, your help with the skewed blade from a badger plane was extremely helpful.


    • Joseph Sellers on 23 December 2013 at 11:28 am

      Hi Norm, we will try to get to that sometime. We have a long list of sharpening videos to do 🙂

  32. Joseph Sellers on 23 December 2013 at 11:36 am

    Thank you all for the kind comments. I will probably present some more videos in the future. These few that I have done were done because we were training a new cameraman and Paul was away. I enjoyed it though.

    @jfe1978, @jpdorn and others,

    I only realised afterward that Paul had shown a figure-of-eight method in a previous method. Paul often will teach a method emphatically but he is always happy for his students to vary the methodology. I think this is what makes him a great teacher.

    I have a great many personal methodologies which vary from what Paul taught me. Viewers and readers who follow Paul’s teachings may be surprised to find that he actually has many methods for nearly everything he does himself. However, in teaching it is important to have consistency for clarity.

    As we get more the basics committed to video we will probably begin to show more alternate methods.

    • Sarrienne Cousland on 1 February 2018 at 9:41 pm

      This was very cool!!
      Where do I find more Joseph Sellers videos? 🙂

      Seriously, I’d really like to see a Sellers & Sellers series of videos.

  33. Mooncabbage on 9 February 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Wow, great video Joseph! I just got myself a set of cheap gouges, and have just started sharpening them up. I really like your suggestion for removing the burr, as I have seen people use slip stones, and they seem a little aggressive for my tastes. Can’t wait to try these techniques!

  34. John Bonk on 8 March 2014 at 1:25 am

    Joseph , on the bevel side, are you polishing just the edge of the bevel or the entire width of the bevel?

  35. Gary on 28 March 2014 at 12:43 am

    Very nice job, Joseph! I just purchased an old Wm Marples gouge on ebay. It’s in pretty good shape, but the inside of the curve will need to be polished. How would you recommend doing this?

  36. bit101 on 14 May 2014 at 3:07 am

    Nice. I just picked up a Grizzly Japanese gouge and tried to sharpen it without much success. Now I’ll watch this video a couple more times and try on my diamond stones.

  37. António on 20 June 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Hi Joseph and Mr sellers!

    I got one Faithfull. My 1st ever.

    I followed Joseph’s video tips (great on by the way), and by the 2nd time I sharped I was able to carve a spoon, and a few letters with the help of a rubber head hammer.
    But when i watched your (Mr Sellers) scoop video i realized that’s something wrong with my gauge sharpness because i can’t slice wood as easy as you do it, only by hand pressure and not as precise.
    I’m not talking just about my lack of practice around a gauge. Because I had the same level with a chisel and with your sharpening method i can slice/shape wood just with my fingertips (I only go to 600 sand paper grit).

    So, the gauge: the inside is polish (not mirror levels, but very smooth), I hone until i feel a continuous small bur along the all edge and take it off like Joseph told.

    Could it be because of the thickness of the Faithfull gauge (when compared to Pfeil n# 7 i saw in a store the other day)?

    I know it’s a long shot asking this without being at your side (-already in my bucket list-) in order you cant watch what I’m doing wrong, but if you can give some hints (even if the hit is get a better gauge -lol) that will help.

    Thank You in advance for your time.

  38. sundog on 2 September 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I love the tools and technique videos to refer to when I do something I’ve never done before or have not done for some time and need a refresher. I’m looking at the video Joseph did on gouge sharpening in which he refers to other videos showing plane iron sharpening. I do not see a separate video on that, but remember seeing it in one of the project videos. Does anyone know which project it is?

  39. BondiMacF on 21 September 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Good video Joseph
    Great to see guys of my generation masters of their craft and teaching already.

    I’ve just bought my first two gouges on ebay the other day, and found that one of them had the bevel on the inside which was a bit of a disappointment.

    Was hoping to make some spoons. is there anything that can be done about that? Cut the bevel off and regrind it on the underside?

    What’s the purpose of a gouge with the bevel on the inside /concave side of the gouge?


    • Philip Adams on 24 September 2014 at 9:08 am

      The best thing would indeed be to grind the bevel on the underside instead. Bit of a pain, but a bevel on the inside is unlikely to be useful to a furniture maker. Those with the bevel on the inside are normally patternmakers gouges.
      Hope that helps,
      Woodworking Masterclasses

  40. dnelwoodworking on 2 January 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for this. How about a hook knife? Any differences at all, or same technique exactly?

  41. Charles Kyler on 16 May 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Joseph, I recently purchase a random lot of chisels. I was excited to see an old 1.25″ wide, hand forged gouge in the mix. But, it is sharpened with the bevel to the inside. Do you have any idea why this was done or what it may have been used for? Most of the lot are large in build, thick shanks, thick handles, boat building or timber framing?


    • ejpotter on 17 May 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Charles, Paul typically demonstrates gouge work with an out-cannel gouge (bevel on the outside). To create scalloped work such as the bowl of a spoon, you have to use this type in order to ride the bevel. Although out-cannel is probably most common, in-cannel, as you have found, is also fairly common. In-cannel can be used for things like fluting or straight channels, curved edges on letters, etc. Paul discusses some of the differences between these two types in the gouge chapter of his new book.

  42. hamit ali on 18 July 2016 at 3:45 pm

    What was the brand of the Gouge

  43. mkvernon on 2 September 2016 at 12:48 am

    Joseph, please point me to the chisel sharpening video. I haven’t been able to find it.

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