Another good gouge

For more information on the gouge, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

Many of you have complained that the #7 sweep straight gouges we have recommended by two European makers are always out of stock and do I recommend any others. I do. I have used Pfeil gouges since 1995 and these too match and exceed the UK makers at least.

It works straight out from the box until you learn to sharpen them, which is very simple.

This spoon took me about 6 minutes for the bowl complete and I wasn’t chasing my tail to do it. Eight chops for the bulk and some minor paring and it was done. What you see is straight off the gouge. The back of the spoon and handle comes to this rough-cut stage from the spokeshave and bow saw in about 15 minutes and can be finished out with a card scraper. The whole spoon takes me 30 minutes. That’s in hardwoods like cherry (this one), ash, elm or oak.

Here’s how the bowl looks straight from the gouge.

Pfeil do make good gouges, I mean top quality, and I like their octagonal shaped ash handles butted straight into the heavier bolster too. It feels very solid, directly controllable and is easily manipulated to the wood for such tasks as this.


  1. I have a set of these Pfeil gouges and they are one of the few brands that come super sharp right out of the box. I used them to finish carving the seats of a couple of continuous arm Windsor chairs and they are still sharp. Excellent quality.

  2. I’m tempted by these gouges every time I go to the local Woodcraft. They are very sharp right on the shelf and I like their feel in the hand.

  3. It may be worth remembering that the sweep numbering sizes are approximate and may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    Pfeil sweep numbers, being European, may not align with the same sweep number on the so-called Sheffield list, which many English and American carvers are accustomed to.

    As a rough guide, if I remember correctly, the European list of curved sweeps start at 2, the Sheffield list starts at 3; 1 & 2 being devoted to straight and skewed chisels respectively.

    1. For this type of spoon making it makes almost no difference because the scallop doesn’t follow the sweep as such and often we deepen the bowl by skewing the gouge. It’s good info though. Thanks for jumping in.

  4. I find sharpening carving chisels much more difficult than straight chisels, especially the ‘V’ shape. Would really appreciate a video demo.


  5. Vee tools are tricky. Sharpening can only be done free-hand.

    The Vee is probably the most complex and difficult tool to sharpen properly and needs a fair bit of practice to get it right, so good luck.

    Repeated sharpening of each wing will, in time, produce a ‘beak’ shape at the junction of the wings because the metal at the root of the Vee is thicker than the sides. You may have noticed this.

    It’s a two stage process. First each wing, next the point of the Vee.The basic technique is to sharpen each side wing as normal, through the range of grits. Clean any burrs on the inside portions with a slip stone. Some users like to add a slight inside bevel at this point, but it’s a matter of choice.

    Next, if you have the start of a ‘beak’, look at it closely under magnification and determine the angle of approach needed to abrade it away without impinging on the cutting edge of the sides. Because the metal is thicker here, you’ll need to alter the angle on the stone.
    To get rid of it, you need to work only on the outside point of the Vee where the ‘beak’ has formed, noting that it has a graduated curved edge, not an abrupt point. Don’t touch the inside at the root at all except the rub away burr.

    There are some videos available on carving tool sharpening if you search You-tube.

  6. This little tidbit answered a question that I haven’t even asked. Thank you

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