Sharpening V-Tools

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Sharpening V-Tools

Learn to tune this difficult-to-sharpen tool

by Charles Berold

This article was first published in issue 41 of Woodcarving Illustrated.

Many carvers find sharpening V-tools a challenge. Most traditional methods focus on treating each side of the V as a straight chisel, but there are several steps leading up to the actual sharpening that make it easier to get a sharp edge.

1. Square up the end. Hold the tool vertically against a 150-grit diamond stone. Move the tool up and down and from side to side until you see little flat areas where the sharp edges should be. You only want to remove the old cutting edge and return the tool to square. If not square, the tool will be difficult to sharpen. Mark the flat areas with a permanent marker (optional).

2. Shape the side bevels. Hold the tool on one side at a 15° angle. Support it with your index finger and apply pressure in different areas to direct removal of the metal. Maintain the angle and move the tool up and down and side to side. Switch sides often. Use a grinder or sandpaper to bevel the back edge of the diamond stone and use the stone to shape the inside of the tool.

3. Clean up the edge. Work your way up through 250-grit, 400-grit, 600-grit, and 1,200-grit diamond stones. As you sharpen, steel dust and slivers will obscure the edge. Force the tool into the endgrain of a piece of scrap wood to remove the dust. Work in stages. Remove a little metal, check the edge under a magnifying glass, and repeat until the flat spots disappear.

4. Remove the hook at the base of the V. This is left over from the shaping of the sides. Place the point of the V flat on the 1,200-grit stone. Twist your wrist slightly to rock the tool from side to side as you move the tool forward and backward.

5. Polish the tool. Hold the tool at the same angle used in step 2 against a leather strop or power strop. Polish the inside of the V lightly with a pointed leather strop. Cut across the end grain of a piece of wood to test the final sharpness of the tool.

About the Author

Charles Berold specializes in making custom, diminutive V-tools and veiners.

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