This site uses cookies, your continued use implies you agree with our cookie policy. Dismiss

Rounded Bevels

One of the features you need on your carving tools is a low cutting angle: a slim wedge of metal leading to the cutting edge. There are several ways you can fail to achieve this. A rounded bevels is one of the commonest.


| 09 February 2019 00:33

Wow, you really read and answer everything! I may have bought the macaroni when I was hungry. but I do like it. Mark Atkins said he would take a look at them. I don't need them modified in any way so sharpening the way you describe will be fine. I'm carving patterns for small metal castings, and the emphasis is on the casting process more than carving, at the moment. So far I haven't stabbed myself with them lol

| 03 February 2019 10:02

Anne - Straight up, although I bought a couple of macaroni tools when I started carving over 40 years ago, thinking they must have a purpose. I've never used them! The 'macaroni', along with the fluteroni and several others, were invented by Victorian furniture makers to speed up very specific jobs and remain quite obscure tools. There isn't anything they can do that you can't do with more conventional tools and it's never occurred to me to include them in Woodcarving Workshops.
Sorry to appear so negative but unless you can work out a specific function for them in your carving, I'd put them to one side for 40 years or so. Seriously.
However, if you want to go ahead and sharpen them: the macaroni is really a double 90 degree V tool and the fluteroni is a V tool in which the outer bevel needs to be sharpened with slipstones, with all that I say about bevels and keels on V tools remaining the same.
You can drop Mark a line and see if he is up for having a go but you can tell by the fact they aren't on his tool list that they are rare tools indeed in the carving world - well, mine anyway!

| 03 February 2019 01:21

I sent my gouges out to Mark Atkins for commissioning. What do you recommend we do for the macaroni and fluteroni types? Thank you again Chris.

| 18 January 2019 12:17

Anne - There really isn't a lot of difference in the bevel profiles you want between narrower and wider tools.
Sharpening can be tricky: you need narrower slipstones of course; it's easy to remove corners, for example. You can modify slipstones by rubbing them on the benchstone; the narrow edges of those teardrop (tapered) slipstones are good for that.

| 17 January 2019 23:54

I am using, for various reasons, very small tools like 3mm width gouges. Can you comment on sharpening and honing this type?

| 11 August 2017 23:44

Alan - I think you've made your own diagnosis!
It's very likely the overall wedge of metal that forms the bevel is too long, i.e. has too acute an angle and thus is weak.
You can strengthen the edge by increasing the amount of inner bevel, keeping a long outside bevel. Make the inside bevel about 5-20 degrees and don't be afraid of making it quite substantial.

| 08 August 2017 06:33

Hi Chris,
Love the videos and your instruction, you are very thorough and talented. I'm used to carving in basswood, but recently bought a piece of white oak to try out on your solar green man design. I can't get over how fast this wood breaks down the edge of my tools. It doesn't just lose its keenness, the edge actually "chips" off like I rubbed it on a brick. This is after about 15 minutes of carving. I use a water wheel to grind and then water stone hone and then a final felt power strop. (So the edge never loses its temper from heat). Is this rapid breakdown of the tool edge normal considering the wood I'm using? Could the bevel angle be too low, causing brittleness?

Alan from Canada

| 09 June 2016 10:44

Siegmar - Auf Englisch bitte! Ich benutze Schneidemesser, keine Messer, und haben wenig über Messer zu sagen. Es tut uns leid!

| 08 June 2016 18:29

Es wäre sehr lehrreich, wenn Sie die Verwendung dieser Messer in der Praxis zeigen würden!

| 28 April 2016 16:46

Bert - COST: I've got to say something about this. Yes, carving tools do seem expensive. However, relative to say buying and equipping a lathe for woodturning, or buying bench planes and Japanese saws for furniture making (never mind the machinery!), to my mind woodcarving is undoubtedly one of the least expensive of the wood crafts. And these carving tools will last you the rest of your life. I have tools 120 years old. I know this doesn't really help when you are handing over hard-earned cash for what seems very little but it might be some consolation.
Buying a few tools at a time, getting familiar with them and building up you 'kit' slowly is a good idea, never mind spreading the cost. And always buying the best tools is another one. So well done: you are investing wisely and I wish you all joy and success with your carving!

| 28 April 2016 16:37

Bert - Don't be miffed, or you'll be miffed every time you buy a factory sharpened tool! More often you'll get a secondary (or micro) bevel, which gives you the same result. The common factor, however, is that none of these tools are sharpened by woodcarvers. Just guys sitting day in day out at beg honing wheels. They are not catering for any style of carving in particular, just meeting (reasonable?) consumer expectations and giving you something sharp to get on with. This my sound cynical but I been to several factories and witnessed the 'sharpening' first hand. You only have to look at the variation in tools from the same tool maker to see this is so.

The fact we have any sharp cutting edge at all is a recent phenomenon. When I began, the tools I could buy were only roughly ground; it was expected that carvers (or their apprentices in the 'old days) would sharpen them in the way the carver liked (see my reply to William below).

Straight up: I've never bought a carving tool, from anyone, and I have a lot of carving tools, that I haven't had to commission and sharpen the way I wanted it. And I really don't mind. I have no expectations that the new tool will be correctly sharpened and take a pride in bringing the tool into service.

| 28 April 2016 16:23

William - What I'm concerned about is the 'wedge' of metal that forms the bevel(s), the profile of the tool at the cutting edge, and the impact it has on the ease with which the tool cuts into the wood and its ability to pivot on a heel and leave the cut. It's not the grip per se, as you suggest: You see me using the same tools for both what I've called the 'high' and 'low angle' grips. It's also not a matter of palm versus 'regular' carving tools.

True, a low cutting angle for the outer bevel gives you a comfortable and efficient position for the low angle grip, but a weak edge. The inner bevel increases the strength of this low angle and allows you to use the tool upside down. Different carvers like different mixtures of each: my mentor had the inner bevel about a third as long as the outer; I know other carvers who like 50:50, with the cutting edge right in the middle of the blade! And some carvers, of course, like to work without an inner bevel at all...

I'm all for the 'suck it and see' approach: Don't take my word for any of this. Get carving and experiment with the bevel(s). See what works best for you. At the end of the day the tools are only a means to an end, the carving. Convince yourself what profile you like for the cutting edge and be able to get it quickly - job done. Then you can focus on the wood.

| 26 April 2016 14:32

Having just spent over £120 on 3 gouges from the manufacturer Chris mentions in passing (the shipping cost was more than the three together) I was more than miffed to find them all with rounded bevels. I was about to pick a fight with someone...

I follow William's observing that they're trying to cater for both needs but could someone please let them know that it is far easier to put a rounded bevel onto a flat one than vice versa

| 24 April 2016 19:24

Your concern for low cutting angle is dictated by the grip used, it is not a necessary thing in other carving with palm tools and intermediate tools, for which the backhanded technical works well. Because the backhanded grip is popular, I assume that the tool makers provide a high cutting angle to please both groups of carvers.

| 24 April 2016 19:13

Very nicely done. Does the length and inclination of the inner bevel influence the overall cutting angle? If so, how?

| 22 April 2016 15:27

Thank you for your answer! I really do appreciate all your helpful insight and advice.


| 22 April 2016 15:04

Liam - Your edge is keen, but the bevel is rounded giving you a thick wedge and high cutting angle - yes? So, no need to touch the sharp edge at all. Offer the tool to the benchstone at the correct cutting angle, rub back and forth in the normal way, and you'll see the centre of the rounded bevel turn grey as metal is removed there. Keep going, don't change the angle and you'll spread this flatness out towards the heel and the edge. Immediately this flatness reaches the edge: stop! Check you've not created a wire edge on the other side; if so, remove it. Strop the tool and you should be good to go.

| 20 April 2016 22:53

Hello Mr. Pye,
This is Liam. I just finished sharpening five new carving tools. The last one that I sharpened (#9 16mm) seemed to take an extremely long time, and I got it sharp... but then later on I tried using it in a piece of wood, and I noticed that it wasn't cutting very well - I realized that I had rounded the bevel. So if I just remove all the metal in the middle will the tool be fixed? Or do I have to go through the process of squaring the edge and everything again beforehand?

Thank you,

Please login to post a comment