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Winged Carving Tools

Corners-pointing-forward, or 'winged', tools are to me and my type of work not the most useful edge configuration. For nearly all my carving work, I want square corners. However, 'winging' or extending the corners, can improve the performance of some tools in some contexts.

In this lesson I'll demonstrate winged U-shaped gouges and answer, 'What's the point?' It can be a relief for beginners to realise that carvers do not have to be stuck with the tool shapes that come from the factory; they can alter them for certain jobs, and this is an example.

A warning: the advantages of winged tools are limited. See them as specialised. It's good to know about them, but you might never need them.


| 15 May 2019 19:50

Jim - This is a very specialised tool used for creating the grooves between 'reeds' in in furniture carving - I've actually never used or possessed one. Lips are much more variable and organic and other tools are much better for carving them, so I really can't recommend it for this purpose.
On the other hand, in the hands of a creative craftsman, who knows what could be carved with it, so let me assuage your tool addiction and give you permission to have at it!

| 07 May 2019 19:55

Chris, Pfeil makes a wing tool a #22 in the shape of a bird wings in flight. I would think this would be a nice shape for carving the shape of the mouth where the lips join together. Or the inside shape of leaf or a petal. This is another tool I would like to have for my tool addiction. Thanks for sharing your Knowledge.
Jim Russell

| 16 November 2014 06:09

Pete - It was originally made for running reeds in furniture, sort of 2 inverted gouges joined at the sides (unlike the 'normal' V tool which is 2 chisels) and you can see how it would work. I don't have one and have never used one!

| 15 November 2014 17:29

Talking of winged V tools Chris, do you have any experience of the special winged V tool made by Henry Taylor I'm not certain but I think it's number 47 or some such. It's not winged in the sense that you grind it, as here, but it's profile is similar to the familiar birds in flight type of shape. If so I'd appreciate your comments please.


| 26 April 2014 00:36

Thanks Chris I already experimenting with a few old 'v' chisels and that raked angle sounds good. Yes I am Maori and would like to further my knowledge in this area of carving but am finding myself going back to the basics as I have been away from carving in general for a while. This is where I find your books and knowledge extremely valuable. Yes you are correct we use these 'v' chisels a lot on our surface decorations as they don't leave marks if you could imagine when we cut particular notches.

| 23 April 2014 07:47

Kara - I think you mean the angle at which the cutting edge is 'raked' (tilted forwards)? 45deg is about right. The outside bevels which rest on the wood - cutting angles - and inside bevels are the same as for normally profiled gouges: 15-20 and 5-10deg respectively. The best thing is to change one tool, try it for the carving you want to do in the wood, and alter it if you can improve its performance until you have the sort of shape that works for you; then do another one if you need it. I rarely use winged tools but I do know that certain types of carving styles, Finnish acanthus fluting and Maori for example, really seem to benefit.

| 22 April 2014 03:09

Thanks Chris I shall keep at it. What do you think an ideal angle for the bevels 45or 60 deg?

| 21 April 2014 08:54

Kara - I'm afraid you can't buy them; you need to shape them - and, yes, that is a little tricky. The 'wing' shape arises because you have left the corners alone: you take the original square carving tool and grind the end to the 'wing' angle; then form the bevel; then sharpen - all the time working more on the centre and leaving the corners. Just take one smallish tool first and keep at it until you get it right.

| 21 April 2014 01:40

Where can I purchase these winged 'V' chisels Chris. We actually try and modify a normal say 12/10 or 13/14 chisel to suit but that's easier said than done. Kara from NZ

| 25 November 2013 07:48

William - For me and my way of carving, the most useful edge profile is square across and keeping the corners, and this is what I tell others. I also say that if - with experience - you find there is some other profile that works better for you, or in a particyular situation, go ahead. I use other shapes on odd tools for very specific jobs, but I find them not useful elsewhere. You really want to try these things for yourself and make up your own mind.

| 20 November 2013 13:04

Hello, Chris. Some have recommended the opposite modification -- a bullnose for flutes and veiners, especially when driving the tool up to a vertical wall or undercut. This change is also recommended for carving hair. In addition, some bullnose gouges when lettering. A video on these medications would be helpful, if you deem them valid for us students.

| 20 November 2013 09:28

I found a winged V-tool worked very well for carving Chinese characters on a pine surface - basically it cuts the curved elements without tearing.
Roy Taylor

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