Okay, I admit that I'm not a professional photographer - not even close, but I was trying to see if I could get a good photo that would show the differences between Kirbert's two very cool modifications of the Staedtler #1 V gouge in comparison to the original. So, here's my attempt.
The blade on the bottom is the standard #1 gouge from the factory. Notice how the front edge comes straight down to the cutting edge that is at the bottom of the V shape? Now, look at the middle tool.
The middle one is Kirbert's Reversed modification. He has taken that straight front edge and sloped it back from the cutting tip so that you can see exactly where you are cutting as you move the tool through your carving material. I find that this makes it easy to get really close to the lines I am trying to carve. The other great thing is that he has honed the edges, so that it cuts beautifully.
Okay, now for the top one. This is Kirbert's Miniaturized modification. He has ground down the whole blade so that the V is now shallower and then sharpened the cutting edge. I love this particular modification. It makes shallow, controlled cuts easy and the carving nerdles (you know, the shavings that you are cutting from the block?) seem to fall away from the carving tip more readily so that they don't block my view of - well - anything. The tiny tip makes tight curves a treat.
These are both fantastic improvements on an already marvelous tool. Other carvers who have had him modify their blades can chime in about how they would describe the qualities Kirbert has so masterfully given them.
And the extra good news? Kirbert got in touch with me, since so many people had been sending him tools to reshape, and offered to rework the tools for Stampeaz for a very reasonable fee plus postage both ways. I'm very excited about this, especially since he can take some of the not so excellent blades that slipped through the factory's quality control system and turn them into something superb.