Use our Gouge Sharpening Calculator to determine the cost of sharpening your gouges.
|For each tool that you’d like us to sharpen:
Or… if you prefer, you may ship your gouges to us and we will enter them for you for $1.00 per gouge. Please be sure to include your contact information (name, address, phone number) when you send your gouges. We will call you when we receive your gouges to confirm order and request credit card payment information.
Attention: I will be indisposed for part of the summer. Any gouges sent in that are postmarked 8 June or after will likely not be commissioned until after the first of September. As always, I try to do them in the order received. Sorry for any inconvenience, Mark.
Current Wait Time: 3 weeks
Shipping Cost: We ship via USPO’s 5″ x 8″ x 11″ medium flat rate box and will add $13.60 to your order at checkout.
How We Charge: As a rule of thumb we charge ⅓ price of new for any brand, new or used, based upon the cost of new Swiss Made gouges as listed on woodcraft.com.
SMG Handle Stamp: A properly commissioned gouge may be usable for years before it needs to be re-commissioned, in the meantime only requiring regular stropping and occasional sharpening on high grit stones. I will re-commission any gouge that carries my stamp for $4.00, no matter who owns the gouge and no time limit, though I may raise the price a bit when I start turning gray. I’ll also repair damage, unless you’ve been using it to remove mortar or as a pry bar in which case the ghost of Chris Pye’s teacher will be paying you a visit.
The “Chris Pye Method”
Newcomers to carving assume that their new gouge is sharpened correctly so, when the tool becomes dull, they re-sharpen it the way it came. But think about this: that gouge they bought was not sharpened by a woodcarver but by a non-carving, factory worker.
Almost any tool you buy today will have been given a sharp edge, as an expedient to sell it, and this new tool will shave wood cleanly. But sharpness to a carver is not simply a sharp cutting edge. Despite the clean shaving, a gouge can perform inefficiently because the profile of the bevel – the ‘wedge behind the edge’ – will be incorrect. The upshot is that despite the clean cut, the tool can only be used in a limited way; it will require more effort than is necessary, and will put unnecessary strain on various arm joints.
I find such a tool frustrating to carve with so, before its edge touches wood, I will ‘commission’ a new gouge – bring it into service by re-shaping and re-sharpening it to perform at it’s most efficient: I add an inner bevel, lower the cutting angle of the outer bevel, make corrections to the shape of the cutting edge and make sure it leaves an immaculate finish. The result is a versatile, easy, efficient blade, and a joy to use.
The final shape of my carving tools and the way I sharpen them was taught me by my mentor, master carver Gino Masero. I didn’t make it up. It’s not ‘my’ method. Gino was taught by his master, who in turn was taught by his, and so on, time-testing in the traditional way.
In over 40 years of carving, I haven’t improved on this way of sharpening carving tools, only understood it better. It is this method of sharpening that I have taught extensively over the years. It’s what I do. The method perfectly suits the way I carve so if you like the way I carve, you’ll want to sharpen your tools in the same way.
‘Commissioning’ your carving tools ‘my’ way is the hands-on service being offered through this website. I have personally taught Mark Atkins, whom I have also taught as a carver, my method of commissioning. I’m very happy with the outcome and service he offers, and will continue overseeing.
Unless you specify differently, we will sharpen your gouges with a single, flat outer bevel having a low cutting angle; add an inner bevel, and keep the cutting edge square, with its corners and at right angles to the blade – exactly as I would sharpen my own.
Let me add here that commissioning like this is something that tools usually only need once. After that it’s regular, light maintenance with fine benchstones, slipstones and strops.
Full details about this method of commissioning and maintaining carving tools, with reasoning and downloads, can be found on my video-based, eLearning website: www.WoodcarvingWorkshops.tv.
— Chris Pye
Why would I use this service?
Yes, without doubt, being able to commission and sharpen your carving tools yourself is the best thing. But there are several reasons why this sharpening service would be useful or convenient for you:
- You’d like to know exactly how Chris Pye’s carving tools look, how they feel. Perhaps you’ve watch Chris’ videos or read his books – but there’s nothing like the real thing!
- You are a novice and want to begin carving using properly commissioned gouges so that when you look at the wood in your clamp that you have mangled so badly that it wouldn’t burn, you’ll know it’s because you are a terrible carver, not because of your gouges. Practice will fix you, but no amount of practice will overcome ill-shaped or dull gouges. It’s like playing a guitar that is out of tune.
- You’ll have correctly sharpened tools as models for your own future sharpening.
- You have a lot of tools to get sorted. You’d like to get them in good order quickly and get on carving.
- You have no one to show you how to sharpen your carving tools correctly.
- You hate sharpening tools, though you know it’s necessary. Your sharpening stinks and you’d like to have someone get them up and running for you.
- You instruct at a carving club or class and want to get tools ready for members or students
- Life’s too short. You simply don’t want to commission or sharpen your carving tools and don’t care what the purists have to say!
How do I look after my gouge once it’s been sharpened?
Commissioning as we do here in Sharpen My Gouge is normally a one-off event, following which you need to maintain the shape and the cutting edge by regular stropping of both inside and outside bevels. You can watch videos on stropping tools; making and using bench and slipstrops, and making abrasive strop paste on WoodcarvingWorkshops.tv.
Keep an eye on the low cutting angle given by the outside bevel: If you find the angle increasing, it’s almost certainly because you have rounded that outside bevel as you’ve stropped the tool. Simply flatten the bevel again on a fine slipstone but stopping at the sharp edge. Then recommence stropping.