Sharpening a V-Tool

HSteier

Well-known member
Al, Mary,

I have taken carving lessons from you both.
If the two of you ever get together for a brain-picking session please let me know. I'd drop whatever I was doing and be happy to pay to attend. In fact I'm sure I could act as a promoter and sell tickets.

Howard Steier
 
My two cents' worth is similar to Al's...although the stuff I carve is much simpler. I use a V-tool for most every carving I do, and mine is swept back just as Al describes somewere in this topic, so the bottom of the V hits after the upper "wings" - and I am an average sharpener at best; mine has the little hook at the bottom quite often. I just don't look at it, and it cuts fine. Hard these days to find a nice shaped V-tool for sale, I think. I have a Pfeil that I got 20 years ago, and bought the same tool recently & it was not shaped the same. Bulkier, and clunky it seemed to me.

I think the stabbing-in and so forth depends too on the wood you use. My first choice is white oak, second choice is red oak. I don't have a third choice. Riven quartered stuff is the best quality stock a tree can give you...I always carve the 17th century patterns I do right to the line, no sneaking up to them. but, it's flatter than much of the 18th c stuff you folks have been discussing...now the 17th-c Flemish work, that's another story...

Peter Follansbee
http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/

 

Adam Cherubini

Well-known member
I think a conference is a good idea.  I won't make it to Wmsburg this year.  Will someone suggest this as a topic for next year in my absence?  You can blame me if the crowd boos it.

Adam
 

marymaycarving

Well-known member
Boooo! (I've got to stay off these forums - put myself in some deep kim-chee)

I'm just s simple ol' woodcarver trying to help people get their v-chisels sharpened!

I think I need to clarify my explanation a little

If you have a v-chisel that is not ground back ? basically as it was purchased off the shelf, here is the process I use. I personally do not re-grind the v-chisel, but do plan on trying this process one day.

1. Sharpen each flat side as if they were individual flat chisels until you get a slight metal burr along the edge
2. If you have removed a lot of metal, this is where you can create the issue with that little tip of metal sticking out. By removing a lot of metal, you create a sharp corner where these 2 flat chisels meet. A tiny triangle of metal sticks out the front.

NOTE: If you do not remove much metal and are just lightly honing the v-chisel, then this corner tip should not be as much of an issue, if any.

3. If you look at the inside curve of a v-chisel, there is (usually) a slight radius
4. The outside radius then needs to be rounded off to meet the inside radius ? do this by sharpening the corner as if it were a small gouge
5. Take a sharp corner slip stone and remove the burr from the inside. (you may have to go back and forth a few times from the outside to the inside with the slip stone to remove this burr)
6. Strop and carve!

IF you still have a problem with the v-chisel cutting, AND you have that small point of metal sticking out the front at the corner, that small piece of metal is USUALLY the culprit. Not always, but more often than not you can see a thickness of metal at the corner - especially if you have taken the sides down quite a distance and removed a lot of metal.

If your v-chisel cuts fine with this tip of metal sticking out, carve away! If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I know how frustrating v-chisels can be to sharpen, and I really hope this helps.

Now I've got to go put a bird in the oven - 15 people coming over & taking over my house!
 

Adam Cherubini

Well-known member
marymaycarving said:
Boooo! (I've got to stay off these forums - put myself in some deep kim-chee)

Mary, I've not met you yet and I may not have followed where you are going here.  Just to be 100% clear, i try to go to the Wmsburg conferences each year.  At the end of the conference, Jay Gaynor takes suggestions from the audience for next year's topic.  Suggestions the audience doesn't like get grumbles, "no's" or boos.  It's a fun crowd really.  I suggested uphostered pieces once and that got booed.  I hoping someone will shout out carving, but it's possible the crowd will reject the idea.   

Carving, as I see it, has a lot of the stuff that would work well for a conference like this.  There's a wide range of period carving to suit everyone's taste. The WD has a few fine carved pieces of furniture, and there are many good carvers to call on for speakers, including and especially Mack Headley.

For period woodwork junkies like me, there's the whole tool culture stuff that I love- what tools they had or didn't have, how they used them, etc etc.  I'd like to see more of this type of stuff covered in general.

I think sharpening gouges, vees, etc would be an important portion of any such conference.  We've seen little bits and pieces of carvings, but it would be good to take a better look at the entirety of the subject.

Most interesting for me is the manifestation of a craftsman's esthetic values in his work.  I see different regions at least producing fairly distinct work.  In Philadelphia, Bernard and Jugiez produced very 3 dimensional relief carvings that I really like.  This was distinct from other Philly carvers.  Pretty sure Mt Pleasant has an Affleck chest on stand  (or chest on chest with crooked legs) with a Jugiez cartouche.  Instead of the standard asymmetic and somewhat abstract centerpiece, Jugiez carved a basket of flowers and acorns, which I really like. 

I think it's fun to see those guys expressing themselves in what is really art work and equally fun to try to recreate work exhibiting their sensibilities. I've been trying to do that in cabinetry, but you can obviously do that same thing in carving alone. 

Adam
 

marymaycarving

Well-known member
Adam,

Sorry - I misunderstood the suggestion. I was picturing a heated debate with woodcarvers and sharp tools - not a pretty picture - you know how mean we can get!

I love carving, love every aspect of it - tools, styles, techniques. I also love sharing information and teaching. If the topic turns this way for a conference, I would be happy to participate in any way I can.

I understand shapes, and how to achieve them with carving tools. Many other carvers out there are much more versed in the history & style than I am. I think there could be a great combination of knowledge and skill from the SAPFM group.

I take the "booooo" back.

 

jacon4

Well-known member
Although i have absolutely nothing to offer in the ways of sharpening a V-tool, there is a box comming to market tomorrow that demonstrates very well what this tool can do. Please DO NOT click this link till after the sale as i am going after this box and another loss like my recent fiasco with a boston joined chest would be to much to handle during this holiday season. J/K, click away.


http://www.garths.com/asp/fullcatalogue.asp?salelot=1054+++++++8+&refno=++194879&image=0

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
 

John Cashman

Well-known member
I think the best way to sharpen a v-tool is to take one of Al Breed's carving classes. He'll modify and sharpen the first one for you, if you want. Then you get to do the next one. The thing you want to avoid is being the guy who sharpens v-tools really well. Then you'll have to do all of your friends' v-tools for them.

Peter points out that more recently manufactured tools have badly shaped and bloated keels. These thick parts absolutely must be thinned, or it doesn't matter how sharp the edge is. For those who want to see what Al and Phil Lowe have taught me about this process, Chris Pye has written a lengthy tome on v-tools. It is available on the web at http://www.chrispye-woodcarving.com/slipstones/v1.html. He asks for a donation to charity in exchange for downloading the pdf file. It is long, but worth looking at, and you can help someone in need.

The second issue is one that Al has written about here, grinding the profile so that the wings are forward of the V. Pye's pdf shows this only briefly, on page 81. If you want to see some examples of what Al means about regrinding v-tools, veiners, and others, go to http://www.allanbreed.com/profiles/blogs/carving-class-ctdphilly-draw and http://www.allanbreed.com/profiles/blogs/off-the-shelf. Take a look at the rest of his website while you are there.

If I had to pick the most indispensable carving tool, it be the vee. It's a bit cruel that it is the hardest to sharpen.



 

Adam Cherubini

Well-known member
Pretty sure Chris Storb didn't use the Vee at all when he carved the ball and claw foot in my shop.  As I recall, he didn't use it when he set in the low relief for the knee.  I think he only used it for veining on some pieces of foilage, but alot of the veins can't be done with the vee.


I was just looking at some 18th c picture frames (you know you're a woodworker when you go to a museum and your favorite work of art is a frame!!), and I was looking for exactly this sort of detail.  The frame i saw had a cross hatched ground which i thought was pretty cool.  The carvings had a high degree of relief, well over 1/2" in spots.

The veins really did appear to be cut with a vee tool, but they were beautifully smoothly curved (which I think it tricky- need a sharp vee for that).

I agree with John 1000%.  I think there is value in woodworking classes in general, but when we start talking about complex shapes, I just think it's REALLY hard to get that sort of thing from a book.  Good to be there with the guy, see his tools, see shapes, roll them around etc etc.  Taking carving classes is high on my priority list. 

Adam
 

jacon4

Well-known member
Hey Adam, whats the deal on the Arts & Mysteries blog, theres been no new posts since Sept. Have you stopped doing it or just taking a break?
 

Adam Cherubini

Well-known member
New posts today!

I get mental log jams occassionally.  I'm rereading Pye's book and I've been taking notes and really wanted to post them.  But I'm just not finished my notes so I have been stuck.  

One of my friends says woodworkers are all on the autism spectrum somewhere.  Some of us are a little further up the ladder than others!  You guys don't think you're okay, do you?  Underhill first alerted me to this fact. Woodworkers are all a little nuts.  I'm proud to count myself among you! 

Adam
 
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