V-tool sharpening

Only owned a V tool for a few months and the time has come to sharpen it, something I have been putting off. Started the process by reading Chris Pye’s 106 page PDF on how to sharpen a V tool, that should give you an idea why I was putting it off.

This is my sharpening set up that I use for almost everything. From left to right it starts with the wet grindstone, then the water stone over a sturdy basin and wedged tightly in position, and lastly some leather strops and bits and pieces of wet and dry sandpaper. Although I haven’t completely committed to water stones, thats an oil stone above the basin. Pros and cons to each, both work.


I usually run my water stone briefly over a sheet of wet and dry sandpaper soaked it water and stuck down onto a pane of glass before I start. Doing this fairly often keeps the stone completely flat, which is obviously essential. I could do with a few different grades of water stone, but good ones aren’t cheap. What I have is basic but does the job for now.


The v tool had folded a bit on one edge so I had to grind it right back to a square edge. I love my little Richard Kell bevel gauge and square, which I keep on my keyring. Perfect for checking the reground end is perpendicular.


After this I ground the keel of the tool, then the two sides and finished these on the water stone, maintaining about a 17 degree bevel.

Stone wedged tightly in place high up on the bench so my posture is good and there is no movement of the stone
Stone wedged tightly in place so there is no movement. And lots of water around to keep cleaning the surface of the stone and keep it cutting fast.

Finally I made what seems to be one of the most important adjustments by grinding away excess steel from the keel. Previously the chisel had a cone shaped keel (see photo above), which I knew didn’t look right, but hadn’t realised the importance. You can see where I have removed steel the excess steel in the photos below. Taking this cone away means the tool can cut a deep groove without the handle being raised up and thus with much less resistance, and better control. The cone was also pushing the tool back out of the wood half way through a cut causing me all sorts of trouble I now realise. I think this has been solved now and I will give it a full test run at the weekend on more carvings.

The fine sandpaper folded over a wide chisel allows me to hone the inside angle
The fine sandpaper folded over a wide chisel allows me to hone the inside angle

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