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7 Sharpen the Keel

Step 6: Sharpen the Keel


| 28 January 2020 01:39

In case anybody else was having the same issues I was (weak edge near the keel). I checked the angle of my bevel with a protractor and found I had made it closer to 15 degrees than to 20 (maybe even a bit lower than that). Maybe it was breaking near the keel because that's where the stress is the greatest? Will try again now that I have a better feel for where 20 is.

| 22 January 2020 18:20

Cody - My guess would be that you have too long a bevel and thus the edge is weak and crumbles. You could try re-sharpening with bevels that are a bit shorter; or strengthen the edge by adding inside bevel, for which you'll need an angled slipstone.
Good for you for trying! You're gaining a lot of experience and mastery over the tool, even as you haven't got it 'quite right' yet. Persistence is a great quality in a carver so keep at it!

| 22 January 2020 01:41


I've gone through this process on a V-tool twice. Each time I believe I'm proceeding correctly, but when I test the tool the edge almost immediately chips. The chips are small and symmetrical across the axis of the tool right next to the tip of the keel. I don't believe it's a fault of the tool, but I can't think of what I might be doing wrong. If it were bench chisels I would increase the bevel angle to strengthen the edge, but this seems contrary to our goal of keeping a low cutting angle. Obviously its hard for you to diagnose the problem without seeing the tool, but do you have any thoughts about where I might be going wrong? Best regards - Cody

| 13 February 2017 15:29

Karen - The trick with the bent V tool, or any bent tool for that matter, is to ignore the bend and present the tool to the stone as if it were straight. Really use your imagination!
Then you just need to find a convenient way to grip it as you sharpen.
Don't worry if you lose the corners here, you won't be using them, but just make sure that (even if rounded) they are sharp.

| 12 February 2017 22:39

Chris on a bent V-tool how do you know the angle of the V, are some V-tools angled back? Which is the best angle for the average use? I pretty much mangled mine, although in my defence I was never shown how to sharpen it and I could not find anyone who knew how. Since I have taken this workshop class I have infinitely improved my skills but this one tool is still causing me problems. I ground down, flattened the end, as the edges were rounded and now I have to again start from scratch. By the way your slips stones are fantastic, well worth the millions I had to pay to get them across the border. Perhaps in a future video you might demonstrate how to sharpen this bent V tool.

| 01 December 2016 19:18

Karen - By 'v-bent shaft', I take it you mean a short or spoon bent V tool? You'd sharpen it the same as a normal V tool, ignoring the bent and just focussing on the bevels. When you have finished, round the keel a little towards it's heel; that will help it negotiate a hollow.

A magnifying glass is a good idea! I have had one by my bench for many years. I seem to need it more and more. Hey ho.

| 02 August 2016 12:04

Alejandro - Pine, with its hard/soft ring pattern is a difficult wood to carve, anyway; it pulls out so readily. I never use it! Test your tools on a decent carving wood with a unifornm ring pattern, preferably the stuff you'll actually be carving, and you'll get a better feedback.

But is sounds as if you are getting somewhere. Keep at it! Make sure you have each step correct before moving on and take it slowly and sneak up on that final edge - you'll speed up later once you have the process firmly under your belt.

| 30 July 2016 22:29

Sixth time is the charm!!!

I tested it on a piece of cast off flat sawn pine and it went well, but catching on the cross grain, but only in some parts of the wood. The age rings are flat to the surface and I think that's where the problem is. I feel like the keel might be too steep for that area. I'll use it as is, on more compliant wood and go from there.


| 30 July 2016 07:26

I've got a 10mm, #12, Pfiel. Ive shaped and sharpened it 3 times today. The chisels cut across the grain beautifully, but the apex... Oy vey.

First time is S&S'd it, the chisels looked like gravel. Ok. Start over. Second time left a cone of an apex. Third time split the apex in half. I kept sharpening it to get rid of the two tiny triangular bulges. When they went, I was left with a dimple for an apex.

Tomorrow (or more likely Monday) leads to my fourth try. I don't mind doing it, I'm getting to know my #12 rather well... but... a sharp tool is my actual goal. Wish me luck.

| 06 June 2016 15:03

Shane - Hard to say without seeing it, but you should be able to get a clean cut all along the cutting edge, and that means right round the V angle - let's call it the apex.
You might try sharpening the apex edge only with just a slipstone, like the one in the picture above. Use the same holding position and use the flat face of the stone on the outside bevel and the corner on the inside. You can get right up close and personal to the edge doing this.

| 06 June 2016 01:27

Hi Chris,
I have been sharpening my gouges and have gain confidence in executing this task because of your videos. Thank you. My question is in regards to sharpening my V tool. I sharpened the sides and then the keel. I have also removed the thick come shape the heel had. When I cute along the grain I have a very smooth good looking cut now at the appropriate angle. However, when I cut across the grain at the very bottom of the cut is chatter marks or almost what looks like ripped instead of cut wood with side cut beautifully. I cannot see a line of any kind where the sides meet. Is it still just a matter of the heel not being sharp enough? I have spent quite a bit of time sharpening it and I don't want to ruin the whole cutting edge I have established on both sides by sharpening the heel too much. I hope you understand what I am trying to describe.

| 01 November 2013 11:26

Steve - There is no harm in adding an inside bevel to a V tool; although the tool isn't used upside down, any amount of inner bevel (to keel and chisel edged) will strengthen the cutting edge. I mostly use the slipstone for cleaning off the wire edge or (burr) that forms on the inside when sharpening and let any degree of inner bevel form as it will.

| 31 October 2013 18:40

Hi Chris,
So when sharpening the keel, a slipstone is used at an angle internally [20degrees?], effectively producing an internal bevel like on a gouge but when sharpening the chisel bevels it is used flat that right?

| 30 September 2013 13:02

Steven - You have it right, I think; you shouldn't need to start over and the 'hook' (horn) simply means you haven't removed enough metal at the apex yet. If you have a little, but sharp, hook, the tool will still cut cleanly. The danger is that too long a hook may break off, so better to remove it if you can.

| 30 September 2013 02:21

The first couple of times I tried this, I got a horn sticking out at the apex and started over. I think rather it just means that I have more metal at the apex and just stoning until it is gone seems to be the correct action.

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