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Re: was honing a draw knife / now sharpening gouges.

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  • rmhowe
    ... For some reason the list posts are not in order on my computer. Must be the headers. Answered this one already. ... Gouges should have a blade edge that is
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 30, 2003
      Patricia Emery wrote:
      > OK, what is the best way to sharpen a draw knife?

      For some reason the list posts are not in order on my computer.
      Must be the headers. Answered this one already.

      > Should I try to
      > find a book on sharpening tools, or find a person who is willing to
      > teach me "hands on"? I have never so much as sharpened a knife
      > before, and don't want to screw-up my (new-to-me) antique draw
      > knife!
      > Although I don't own any yet, I guess I need to learn how to
      > sharpen gouges, too...

      Gouges should have a blade edge that is square, in other words, 90° to
      the shaft of the tool. There are in-cannel, and out-cannel gouges and
      they are used for very different purposes sometimes. Out-cannel gouges
      are used both for carving and for in-setting around designs when the
      design is convex around the design to be knocked in. The in-cannel
      gouges are used for setting in the concave areas around a carving only.
      They would be the wrong tool to use for trying to carve with across
      the face of the work, thus they are used only for outside dimensional

      For those of you who do not have a large supply of gouges to set in with
      you can use a veiner, or V-shaped carving tool to set in your outside
      edges of a carving with. This is done by pushing or using a mallet with
      your tool at an angle consistent with normal carving. For those of you
      who don't have a few carving mallets around you can buy a rubber crutch
      and put it over your steel hammer face. You shouldn't strike a wooden
      handled carving tool with a plain steel hammer. A crutch tip works
      well actually. I have a number of wooden and leather carving mallets but
      the crutch tip is a reasonable substitute. These are available at your
      local hardware store.

      Setting in you may take as the initial vertical work outlining a design
      in the material, generally you want to go almost to the background of
      finished work. You would want to use a gouge with a sweep (how deep it
      versus how wide it is) that approximates the curve you want to end up
      This is why some professional carvers may have hundreds of tools to
      with. The right curve simply saves them time. A good supplier is
      Woodcarver's Supply.

      Most gouges you see will be out-cannel, that is having the bevel on the
      outside of the gouge. The reason that the edge must be square is very
      simple, the two outside edges precede the lower edge and shear the outer
      grain first before the lower curve of the edge lifts it up (and would
      splinter it). The sharper the edge the less splintering you would have.

      I suppose I would suggest using a height next to the stone to rest the
      handle on while you wipe the edge of the gouge sideways to sharpen it.
      Someone recently invented a tool to do this with that clamps onto the
      gouge. It has a rounded bottom to facilitate the movement. Your rest
      height could be as simple as books or boards, but you want to keep the
      same bevel you ground on the tool, so moving it closer or further away
      will change it a bit in relation to the top of your stone.

      If your gouges come used they will frequently be somewhat abused and
      lack a square end, meaning you should first of all grind a square end,
      while dipping the tool very frequently so as not to remove the temper
      of the tool by overheating it. Once you have done this you grind the
      bevel on the tool going -almost but not quite- to the inside edge.
      At this point most people would shift to a stone and complete the bevel
      to the inside edge by stroking the gouge sideways to its shaft while
      turning it. Finally if you have one use a fine slip-stone or diamond
      tapered round hone to clean up the inside of the groove of the gouge.
      This should be flat with the inner surface of the groove.

      A slip stone is a small stone (they come in a variety of natural grits)
      that has a roughly half inch semi-circular side and tapers to a roughly
      3/16" side over a couple of inches. Their sole purpose is to sharpen
      the inside of gouges and rounded cutting tools. I suppose you could
      get by with some fine wet/dry silicone carbide paper wrapped around
      a dowel instead. Available at any hardware store or auto-supply store.
      Slipstones can be had from Garret-Wade or Woodcraft for example.
      They are usually 3-4 inches long by about two inches wide, the ends
      are square and the long sides are curved.

      > Jessimond - who is as green as the Spring!

      Some excellent English Carvers are:

      Pye, Chris: Woodcarving Tools, Materials and Equipment
      Elements of Woodcarving
      Woodcarving: Tools, Material and Equipment, 2 vols.

      Norbury, Ian:Techniques of Creative Woodcarving
      Woodcarving Book 1: Techniques
      Projects for Creative Woodcarving
      Relief Woodcarving and Lettering

      Onians, Dick: Essential Woodcarving Techniques

      Woodcarving Magazine Staff
      Understanding Woodcarving in the Round
      Woodcarving for Beginners
      Beginning Woodcarving: Projects, Techniques, Tools
      Understanding Woodcarving
      Carving Birds And Beasts : The Best From Woodcarving Magazine.
      Useful Techniques for Woodcarvers: The Best from Woodcarving

      Personally I subscribe to:
      Guild of Master Craftsmen Staff: Woodcarving Magazine (English)
      Carried by Barnes and Noble. The American equivalents are usually
      more folksy.

      A very good American Carver is:

      Butz, Rick: Woodcarving with Rick Butz
      How to Sharpen Carving Tools: Woodcarving Step by Step
      Ellen Butz: Woodcarving with Rick Butz: Fourteen Projects from the
      Public Television Series
      Woodcarving Step-by-Step with Rick Butz

      A good, old one, usually available from Dover, is:
      Hasluck, Paul N.: Manual of Traditional Wood Carving
      It has a definite Medieval Flavor to parts of it.

      Incidentally, http://www.ShopPBS.com has some good Woodwright's Shop
      videos including both chip carving by Wayne Butz and carving as
      practiced by the Colonial Williamsburg Cabinet Shop. Click on Videos,
      then input Woodwright's Shop into the Search line.

      Woodwright's Shop, The: Season 20: Turned Corner Chair (Video)
      is about making a Netherlandish Medieval Chair.

      Woodwright's Shop, The: Season 20: Marquetry Master Patrick
      Edwards (Video). This is a rare prize if you aspire to marquetry
      which was practiced in period, especially in Italy. The Doge's
      Palace has both Marquetry and stone intarsia.

      Woodwright's Shop, The: Season 21: Walnut Krumhorn,
      Episode 5 of 13 (Video) A Krumhorn is a curved Medieval
      musical intrument.

      Woodwright's Shop, The: Season 21: Welsh Chair
      Bodger Don Weber, Episode 2 of 13 (Video)

      Woodwright's Shop, The: Season 20: Carving With
      the Cabinetmakers (Video)

      All are $14.95. If you don't buy them when they are available
      they generally go out of print as new shows come available.
      I was looking for the one on Rick Butz and apparently it may
      have gone out of print. I think that it is one I bought.

      Magnus, a carving Laurel actually, who was also a furniture shop foreman
      for a while, and the head cabinetmaker/wood and plastics specialist his
      last eight years for a very large university. Part of my job was
      and setting blades in equipment by both hand and machine. Much earlier
      I made part of my living carving signs.
    • James W. Pratt, Jr.
      For some uses( like bowyering) the draw knife is not sharpened...so that it will split the wood rather than cut it. Also in making baskets a frow or draw
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 30, 2003
        For some uses( like bowyering) the draw knife is not sharpened...so that it
        will split the wood rather than cut it. Also in making baskets a frow or
        draw knife is used to split out the strips of wood and again you want to
        split the wood not cut it. Queen Ann leg .... sharper the better.

        James Cunningham
      • rmhowe
        ... Don t most people use a froe for this? I ve even seen axes used. Not to make fun at all but I have never read of using a drawknife for -splitting out a
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 2, 2003
          "James W. Pratt, Jr." wrote:
          > For some uses( like bowyering) the draw knife is not sharpened...so that it
          > will split the wood rather than cut it.

          Don't most people use a froe for this? I've even seen axes used.

          Not to make fun at all but I have never read of using a drawknife for
          -splitting out a bow- I would think it's possible but a bit too
          light a tool for splitting with. For getting to the desired layers
          or carefully taking the bark off I can definitely see using a
          drawknife. For finishing to grain levels scrapers, rasps and files
          are generally used.

          There is a special type of multiple blade scraper that is used
          now by many bowyers to follow growth rings. Generally these things
          have about four blades set at straight or slightly skewed angles
          to each other and it is used like a spokeshave in practice. This
          deals with irregular grain quite well.

          I suppose I should point out that I have been collecting articles,
          magazines and books on archery and crossbows since the 60's in
          English and German on most types of archery equipment. I used to
          teach archery to students and summer camp counselors and compete
          in tournaments with clubs/teams prior to my SCA days. I attended
          the NAA instructor's course in Pennsylvania back around 1968 or 9.

          My mentor was a three time world F.I.T.A. champion, O.K. Smathers of
          Brevard, NC, USA, prior to sitting on the first U.S. Olympic Committee
          when it finally became an Olympic Sport around 1972 or so. I was
          from nearby Hendersonville, and we shot with clubs in Asheville and
          Brevard, and I later shot with clubs and on the university team in
          Raleigh, NC.

          While I was a good teacher I never would have been a champion shot.
          I taught eight styles at one time, and shot five in competitions.
          Thirty years later I have trouble recalling all the names of the
          styles now. I will buy just about anything remotely related to
          historical archery.

          Unfortunately I eventually developed a muscular/nervous system malady
          that has left me unable to shoot anything but a windlass-drawn crossbow
          for more than a shot or two.

          Inherited syndrome and too much manual repetitive motion making a large
          variety of things (furniture, plastics, cabinets, woodwork) disabled me
          years earlier than it should have. The fact that I can't do it has not
          stopped my interest in archery. It has answered my wonderment over
          why I still shook a bit regardless of shooting bows 20 hours a week.
          I shake now frequently. My scores were usually about 18 points less
          than some of the casual scores of the champions I shot with.
          About 278 vs 296+ out of 300.

          > Also in making baskets a frow or draw knife is used to split out
          > the strips of wood and again you want to split the wood not cut it.

          With white oak here (VA-NC, USA) the bark is taken off (generally
          with a spud) and then the still green tree trunk is pounded with the
          poll of an axe which is a labor intensive way of separating out the
          growth rings. To keep the thickness constant for making baskets a
          small rectangular box like tool with an adjustable thickness knife-edge
          is used. This tool is only used in basketmaking and derives from the
          ones used in England - most English crafts books which include chapters
          on basketmaking depict them. I am pretty sure Vanishing Crafts by
          John Seymour does. I know some of my basketmaking books do.
          For finer withes the stuff is often simply pulled between a leather
          pad on the thigh and a sharp knife edge held in the hand.

          > Queen Ann leg .... sharper the better.

          Quite true. An awful lot of the 18th C furniture contains curly
          grain like maple in it too.

          A long time ago I saw a demonstration on a program of how flintlock
          rifle reproductions were stained. I cannot remember the chemical used.
          It was applied to the wood and a red hot iron was waved over the
          surface. As heat hit the wet wood it turned a lovely shade of brown
          and the curly grain stood out in contrast. This is the only time I
          have seen/heard of a stain being applied in this manner. I am fairly
          sure it must be a very old method but none of my finishing books
          mentions it. It may have been a tannic acid/iron oxide solution
          reaction in the wood, but maple doesn't contain tannic acid, or does it?

          I know Maples didn't stain my hands like wood that does like Oaks, and
          I worked many thousands of board feet of it. I made a great deal
          of furniture for a living at one time. A good thousand + pieces and
          hundreds of cabinets, etc. I expected to still be doing it. Somebody
          up there has a very peculiar sense of humor.

          Perhaps someone here knows? Perhaps I have the wrong memory of the
          wood type used and it was a reaction with tannic acid and rust in
          solution responding to heat. Walnut has a lot of tannic acid for
          example. Used to give me purple hands for days.

          > James Cunningham

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