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Thread: Common size for bowl gouge

  1. #1
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    Common size for bowl gouge

    After watching countless hours of woodturning videos on Youtube, it seems like a 5/8" bowl gouge is very common. I started with a 3/8" from PSI, and decided that it was too small, so I decided to pick up a 5/8". I went to Rockler to buy one, and couldn't find a 5/8" bowl gouge anywhere. I ended up buying a Carter & Sons 5/8" on Amazon, and couldn't be happier with my purchase.

    Is it weird that Rockler didn't carry this size? I know Youtube doesn't always reflect reality, but I was quite surprised not to find this item on hand.

  2. #2
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    5/8" is common for some people. 3/8" is common for some people. Etc.

    Like most things in woodturning, much depends on what you make, what you make it from, and how you work (experience level and such).

    What size of blank? Wet or dry wood? For hogging out the inside, working on the outside, or finish cuts?

    I personally like Thompson 3/8" gouges for most of what I make, both spindles or face turning, and often supplemented with the 3/8" Hunter Hercules tool, especially for dry wood. I have larger gouges from several tool makers but for me and what I prefer to turn 5/8" is much too big.

    But I rarely turn big wet wood any more - it's a lot of fun but too easy.

    JKJ

    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Mitchell View Post
    After watching countless hours of woodturning videos on Youtube, it seems like a 5/8" bowl gouge is very common. I started with a 3/8" from PSI, and decided that it was too small, so I decided to pick up a 5/8". I went to Rockler to buy one, and couldn't find a 5/8" bowl gouge anywhere. I ended up buying a Carter & Sons 5/8" on Amazon, and couldn't be happier with my purchase.

    Is it weird that Rockler didn't carry this size? I know Youtube doesn't always reflect reality, but I was quite surprised not to find this item on hand.

  3. #3
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    I bought a 3/4" Thompson bowl gouge for the extra strength allowing a little more tool off tool rest for bottoms on some large diameter deeper bowls. I now find that I use the 3/4" for doing a lot of roughing out shape on green bowls and then go down to 1/2 or 3/8" for finishing cuts. My 5/8" Elsworth is a great go to also. And not to forget, a little 3/8" Thompson with 8" handle works extremely well for undercutting rim and inside on my midi lathe. Just get a variety and use where they work best.

  4. #4
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    Keep in mind that the British measure their bowl gouges differently. Their 1/2" BG is really about 5/8" in diameter. My experience with Rockler leads me to say Rockler does not target serious woodturners. Not meant to be a put down as it is a great store but does not offer as wide a range of woodturning products as Woodcraft and certainly not as much as Packard and Craft Supplies. As a result they do not always offer the full line of Sorby products.
    God is great and life is good!

  5. #5
    Most of the time I will be using a 5/8, either Thompson or D Way. I do prefer the V10 from Doug, and the M42 from Jimmy Allen (D Way) to the standard M2HSS, it just stays sharp a lot longer, though I prefer a fresh edge for finish cuts. A 3/8 is a bit small for my hands. I do have one 3/4 D Way, but don't like it that much. I do all of my bowl roughing with scrapers, and finish cuts with gouges and shear scraping, and some times a NRS, depending on how the wood is cutting.

    robo hippy

  6. #6
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    Reed, I believe I have watched all of your videos. I like your style of turning because I too really enjoy using scrapers. They just seem to make more sense in my head. I'm still not exactly sure how a bowl gouge manages to cut on a push cut

    I can definitely feel the difference between the metal of the Penn State gouge and the new Carter & Sons. I think my issues had less to do with the size of the gouge and more to do with the hardness of the metal. I struggled for a while sharpening by hand and found a noticable difference when I got the Wolverine/Vari-grind set up with a CBN wheel. The new tool is still a vast improvement and stays sharp much, much longer. It also has a much nicer handle, and the aluminum sure looks cool!

  7. #7
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    I use a 1/2" gouge most of the time; a Crown Pro-PM gouge. It works for me but I think I've learned that everyone uses what they get used to. I also bought a 3/8" gouge (same type) but really don't use it all that much. Then I bought a different 1/4" gouge but hardly have used that at all. (Buying tools is an illness.)

    So, it seems that I have gotten used to some tools and use them all the time. Other just sit there sharp and unused.

    So, whatever you feel works the best for you should be the tool you use.

  8. #8
    Well, for handles, I prefer a straight wood cylinder, no bumps or humps, they just feel better in my hands. I looked at that Carter and Son handle and I have had one that was that shape, and didn't like it. As for the push cut, the way Stuart Batty does it is a style developed for a long bed lathe where he extends his arms away from his body so he doesn't have to bend over to turn. I have been on a sliding headstock for 18 years or so, so I do the push cut standing at the end of the lathe and keep my arms by my side. For the push cut, the 40/40 grind works best for the outside of the bowl and a concave surface, and for down the inside wall of the bowl, then change to a BOB (bottom of bowl) gouge for the transition and across the bottom. For the push cut, the flutes are rolled almost all the way over on the side. You are doing a slicing/shear cut with the nose, and the wing is doing more of a scraping cut. Use your body to move, and your handle hand does the steering. Your left hand does nothing but rest on the tool, not the tool rest and it does not guide the tool at all. Took a while for that lesson to sink in. I haven't tried his outside bowl grip yet as I am in the midst of sanding for an upcoming show. He used an under hand grip with his thumb in the flute. For me, most of the time, I just have my left hand resting on the tool. For sure, the more you clamp down on the tool, the more bounce you will get. I will be redoing my bowl turning videos later this year, one on my 'production' methods, and another on the way most other people turn...

    robo hippy

  9. #9
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    I should have been more specific. I can cut with the push cut just fine, but for the life of me I watch the shavings fly off and it still doesn't make any sense, haha! It's almost like I'm doing a magic trick I don't understand. I look forward to your new videos.

  10. #10
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    No particular size or flute or length is right or wrong--they are all suited for different tasks. Different grinds and the same thing--I use all of them and grind trial shapes for grinds and handles. Get outa the box yeah.

  11. #11
    Reply to Robo hippy

    [Stuart Batty does it is a style developed for a long bed]

    Stuarts push cut is I believe not affected by the length of lathe bed, to perform the push cut on smaller lathes you simply remove the tail stock

    I have done this using a mini lathe and I have seen Stuart remove the tail stock in his videos

  12. #12
    Stuart and I both do a push cut. With his style, his arms are extended out away from his body. With my style, I have the headstock at the end of the lathe or now that I have a Vicmarc 240 with the pivoting headstock, I use the pivoted position. This allows me to keep my arms at my side rather than extending. Same cut, different posture/stances at the lathe. I can do a fair job of the extended arm cuts, but don't like it. I did a demo up in Washington State where they have a Sweet 16 Robust lathe which has a fixed headstock. I had to practice the Batty method for a couple of weeks to appear at least some what competent with that method, and made sure to use that as part of my presentation. I have used the sliding headstock method for 18 years, which is why I bought one in the first place. Of course, since I always slide the headstock down, it drives me crazy to see those who have sliding headstock lathes turn bowls without moving the headstock.... The Vicmarc 240 does the pivoting headstock the way I would eventually ended up with if I had designed that lathe. It just makes more sense.

    robo hippy

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reed Gray View Post
    .... Of course, since I always slide the headstock down, it drives me crazy to see those who have sliding headstock lathes turn bowls without moving the headstock....
    You'd go crazy here. My PM headstock slides but I don't move it to the end. I have that lathe in a corner because of shop space and because I like it that way.

    lathe_PM_Jan17_IMG_5751.jpg

    I can pull the headstock and turn it around to give me maneuvering room but so far I've been a happy turner where it is now.

    JKJ

  14. #14
    I have heard the comment from a number of turners who would rather turn outboard than use the sliding headstock. It was always because of 'shop space' issues. The Vicmarc is the only lathe that does the pivoting head stock correctly. With all of the bowls I have turned, the sliding headstock or not the pivoting one is the more 'ergonomically' correct way for turning bowls. Well, for me anyway...

    robo hippy

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