Handy Tools #1: Skew carving gouge


This is part 1 in a 1 part series: Handy Tools

  1. Skew carving gouge

While working on the Altai Project Logo carving, I discovered I needed a narrow skew in order to get down into some of the corners. I have a handful of ½ inch wide unground blanks I got from the Mountain Woodcarvers clearance page, so I got busy.

First step was grinding it down to 2-3mm wide. Then I skewed the tip, and put a rough edge on with the grinder. That’s the rough outline of the tip made.

Then I had to re-harden the steel, as the grinding had wrecked the temper. I heated it bright glowing red with a MAP gas torch, and plunged it into a jar of canola oil I keep for hardening tools. Then the blade went into the toaster oven to temper it. I’m aiming for a hardness of 60 or so, which will work well for a carving tool.

With the blade in the oven, I turned to the lathe, and converted a small piece of granadillo into a handle. I also drilled a 3/16 hole for the tang. Because it’s a tapered tang, I drilled a short bit wider with 7/32 and ¼ inch bits. Then I added a ferrule from some ½ OD brass, and filed it smooth.

By this time, the blade was done cooking, so I pulled it out and let it cool, then pounded the handle onto the blade. A bit of hand sanding and a couple coats of tung oil, and it’s ready to go.

May you have the day you deserve!

Now that is going full commando, you need, you make! Well done.

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Yeah, Splint. Quicker than running to ABQ to find out it’s not in stock anywhere in town and then ordering online. Plus, when I saw the blanks, I figured something like this would eventually happen. I think I got a dozen 1/2” wide by 2-3mm thick blanks for something like $20 - they were seriously cheap, and the metal seems to be decent quality.

Thanks, Ryan. 

May you have the day you deserve!

How do you know what skew angle to put on it? I've picked up a few skews from garage sales and a few are so "messed up" I plan on regrinding them completely "some day".
Nice Dave, that's a handy skill to have - making custom carving tools.
JD, I wanted a pretty steep angle, as this guy’s lot in life is cleaning out tight corners. So I’d say the angle of the skew is something like 35-40 degrees. Almost as much of a bevel (because the blade is almost as thick as it is wide) as the bevel that does the cutting.

But note that it’s a carving skew, not a turning skew. For turning skews I tend to about 60 or 65 degrees, but I also have bedans which have no skew, which I use for most of the same cuts.

Thanks, Mike! I’m also glad that Kenny pointed out Mountain Woodcarvers to me at some point. They have pretty good prices for a lot of things, especially if you’re willing to do some work yourself, as on the unhandled tools. Probably not cheap enough to make up for having to ship them across an ocean, but….

May you have the day you deserve!