No Fear Sharpening

Sharpening seminar at Highland Woodworking taught by Chris Pye

Chris Pye began woodcarving in 1975, originally studying under Master Woodcarver, Gino Masero. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carvers Association.

Most of Chris's work is commissioned. He has designed and carved across a very broad range of subjects and styles: from the traditional to the modern; from the photographically realistic to the utterly whimsical; from relief and ornamental carving to lettering and sculpture.

I had the previledge a few weeks ago to attend a sharpening seminar by renowned carver Chris Pye. The seminar was quite informative with two main take-away ideas I plan to impliment going forward.

The Inside Bevel

Currently my gouges do not have an inside bevel. While it's true some carvers produce excellent carvings without this inside bevel, an inside bevel adds a very special configuration to carving gouges, altering the whole 'feel' and performance of these tools to great advantage.

Reasons for an inside bevel:
  • Short: 5-10°
  • You can cut more easily with the gouge 'upside down'. Without the inside bevel, the cutting edge tends to 'jig' on the flat inner face and bury itself into the wood, rather than rising out by pivoting on the inner heel.
  • The inside bevel throws the cutting edge to the middle of the metal, thus 'buttressing' and strengthening the edge by increasing the combined, overall bevel angle.
  • This in turn allows a lower cutting angle since the outer bevel can be longer.
  • An inner bevel eases the shaving up and out of the channel in deep and U-shaped gouges.

The Outside Bevel

Currently my gouges have the outside bevel that was set by the tool manufacturer. These tend to be high and vary from one gouge to another. A low cutting angle of 15-20° allows better control.

Reasons for a low outside bevel:
  • Better control.
  • Sharper wedge = less work.