Name Red Gum
Location Southeastern North America
Texture/Grain Fine/Closed
Specific Gravity 0.52
Hardness Medium
Strength Strong
T/R Stability 10.2/5.3%







1. How a Tool
Cuts Wood

2. Sharpening

3. Sharpening
Tools & Materials

4. Sharpening
Chisels & Plane Irons

5. Sharpening
Skews &
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6. Sharpening
Parting Tools

7. Sharpening

8. Sharpening
Hand Saws

9. Sharpening
Drill Bits

10. Sharpening

11. Touching Up
High Speed Cutters

12. Sharpening


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he steps for sharpening skew chisels and gouges are roughly the same as they are for flat chisels. First, flatten the back of the skew or the pod (concave curve) of the gouge. Thereafter, sharpen the bevel, working your way up through finer and finer abrasives. Finally, remove the burr that forms at the cutting edge. 

However, because the shapes of these tools are more complex than flat chisels, it’s harder to maintain the bevel angle. You must either feel the angle or devise some method of holding the blade.

Turners often grind back the ears on the shaping gouges they use to create spindles and bowls. This lets them cut concave shapes. Roughing gouges, on which the ears remain even with the nose, are used to round stock.

Sharpening a skew


When sharpening a skew by hand, you must grind without the benefit of a guide. Feel for the correct angle, resting the bevel flat on the stone. Then lock your wrist in place to maintain that angle as you sharpen. If you have trouble feeling the angle on a large stone, try a smaller slip stone. Press the stone against the bevel with your fingertips.

When sharpening a skew on a sharpening machine, make a guide block with an angled side and clamp it to the tool rest. Hold the side of the chisel against the angled side as you work. The angle of the tool rest controls the bevel angle, and the angled side of the block controls the skew angle. NOTE: When sharpening a skew chisel with a double bevel, such as a lathe skew, make a guide block with two angled sides, each side a mirror image of the other.

Sharpening a gouge


When hand sharpening a gouge, use a gouge slip. The rounded surfaces on the stone fit the curved cutting edge and pod of the tool. Put your fingertips in the pod opposite the bevel to help feel the angle.

To sharpen a gouge on a sharpening machine, make a guide block with a V-groove and clamp it to the tool rest. Rest the blade of the gouge in the V and hold it there as you roll the tool from side to side. Press the tool forward gently to keep the cutting edge against the abrasive as the gouge rolls.

3 After finishing the bevel, use a round stone file to remove the burrs from the cutting edge of a gouge. Lightly stroke the concave surface of the pod with the file.

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 "Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be without wood."
Eric Sloane in Reverence for Wood


Sharpening/Sharpening Skews and Gouges, part of the Workshop Companion,
essential information about wood, woodwork, and woodworking.
By Nick Engler.

Copyright © 2009 Bookworks, Inc