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Thread: Clarification and recomendations - Bowl Gouge

  1. #1

    Clarification and recomendations - Bowl Gouge

    So I watched a YouTube video telling me not to use a spindle gouge on a bowl - for roughing. The video explained the dangers which I Will heed !

    So.... I realize that while my hardened steel tools have 2 spindle gouges, I have no Bowl Gouges !

    1) the tool called a roughing gouge - is it a bowl or spindle gouge ?

    2) do I want to stay w hardened steel or go to the carbon steel tools ?

    3) what is a great recomendation on a specific tool (brand, size) when it comes to value ? I prefer not to spend $ 100+ on the tool but do tell me of I simply need to spend the $$$ for quality.

    Thanks
    Allen

  2. #2
    Well, if you are on a budget, buy used. If you are anywhere near a local club, contact them and find out if any one has tools for sale. I prefer to buy unhandled tools and turn my own handles, which is fairly simple, even if you are still a beginner. If you buy new, standard M2 high speed steel works great. If you want a better value in your tools, then you go for the M42 HSS tools or the V10 metals. You pay more, but you get more as well. My preferred brands are Thompson and D Way. There are others. For sources of tools, Woodcraft, Packard Woodworks, and Craft Supplies USA have lots of variations. Generally avoid 'sets' because it seems that every set has a tool or three that you never use. If you search your local Craigslist, you may run across a bargain, but you may get junk as well.

    robo hippy

  3. #3
    Bowl gouges have solid tangs. Spindle gouges not necessarily.
    Spindle gouges generally have more acute (sharper) nose angles than bowl gouges.
    Bowl gouges often have the corners of their cutting edge eased.

    ALL of this comes into play when working the inside of a bowl. The spindle gouges can catch more easily, and don't have as much leverage.

    Spindle gouges are optimized to cut the side grain of a spindles - not to handle the abrupt changes between end and long grain that you have on a bowl.

    You can use a bowl gouge on a spindle; that is to say, it's safe in most cases. But its geometry will mean you don't get as smooth, or sharp a result as a spindle gouge.

    Basically, it's suboptimal to use a bowl gouge for a spindle gouge's work. But it's often dangerous to use a spindle gouge to do a bowl gouge's work.

    You can use either HSS or carbon steel, but HSS stays sharper longer and handles heat during sharpening a little better, so it's generally a better choice these days.

    I like Thompson or D-Way tools. You can get these unhandled so it saves $$.

    If you do Thompson, you'll have to pick a V or U flute. If I had to have 1 tool (I do bowls, mostly) I'd vote for my Thompson 1/2" V bowl gouge.

    While I used to save money by making handles, now I see it more beneficial to buy them. They're heavier and reusable so in the end, they're a good (for me) investment.

    YMMV...

  4. #4
    I agree with all of what Prashun says. With few exceptions, I have used Thompson and D-Way since I started turning. They both are CPM steel, which has different attributes than what most folks call HSS. Thompson uses V10 steel, with a Vanadium content. D-Way uses M42 cobalt. My experience is that the M42 is a bit harder and will hold an edge longer UNLESS there is significant silica in the wood, in which case the edge seems to be more prone to micro fracture and seems to dull slightly quicker. And, then, some wood - even seemingly very soft wood, will dull any tool quickly. I have turned soft maple before that one could dent with a finger nail and it destroyed my edges in short order. All depends on the wood!

    The exceptions to the Thompson/D-Way tools are those that are rarely used - specific use scrapers, etc. They don't get much mileage and I don't mind standard M2 HSS in those as the need to sharpen them is rare. I have a handle I made into which I can use several pieces of bar stock HSS that I have ground in various configurations on either end, making them "reversible."

    I made all my handles early on, but switched to D-Way handles and over time nearly all my tools are in them. It isn't a cheap investment, but it is a one time investment. Also, if you travel at all being able to break down your tools is much handier and safer.

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  5. #5
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    It is the spindle roughing gouge that should never be used on a bowl. You can use spindle gouges on bowls, but why? They aren't made for that and you won't like the results. I like thompson tools because they stay sharp longer. I like v flute better than u-flute, but for some it's too aggressive. Carter and sons are also good tools. Crown and Sorby are good lower-cost HSS options, but they are not really that much cheaper. The lower cost brands like benjamin's seem OK as long as you don't mind sharpening more often. Some go carbide to try and save on the number/type of tools needed. I made that mistake and now my carbides mostly collect dust. Others have a different opinion on the carbides. Get ready to open your wallet. This hobby is not cheap.

  6. #6
    If you go to the woodturnerscatalog.com web site and search on "spindle roughing gouge" the Artisan, Henry Taylor, and Sorby ones are the shape I have. The tool is much narrower at the handle, what one respondent identified as the tang. I have seen numerous suggestions that this tool should not be used inside or outside on bowls - if a serious catch the tool may snap at the tang. I've also seen numerous suggestions that spindle and spindle detail gouges should not be used inside a bowl. look at a spindle and bowl gouge from the end, side by side, and one will see the sides of the bowl gouge are higher than the sides of the spindle gouge, making the bowl gouge stronger. I would disagree that spindle and bowl gouges can be distinguished by the shape of the nose or tip - a turner can make either one have any shape.

  7. #7
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    As others mentioned, don't use a roughing gouge on a bowl. They are now referred to as "spindle roughing gouges" in an attempt to remind people. Some problems with a spindle roughing gouge on a bowl - they generally have a fairly wide cutting edge and can take a big bite. The big bite can turn into a huge catch on the end grain. The tang holding the gouge to the handle is usually relatively small and not strong. A huge catch can break the tang and throw pieces of broken gouge in unpredictable directions. This is very dangerous when roughing out a bowl but can also hurt you even after the bowl blank is roughed out.

    A spindle gouge is different, much smaller diameter. You can easily use a spindle gouge on face work (bowls, platters, etc). I do it often, not for rouging or aggressive turning, but for detail work. One potential problem is the flute is shallow and the tip often ground into a fingernail shape which can test your fine tool control.

    Terminology on steel: today, most turning tools are made from hardened and tempered High Speed Steel (HSS). Years ago turning tools were made with tool steel, hardened carbon steel. Years before that turners used unhardened steel. The problem with hardened tool steel is when sharpening it on a bench grinder it is easy to get it too hot and "blue" the steel, ruining the hardness at the edge. I have a box of used tools and some are hardened steel - I can sharpen them but I have to be very careful. HSS has no such problem - you can't get one too hot with a bench grinder. So if buying a bowl gouge look for HSS.

    Flat-topped carbide tools are another option, but IMO, a poor option. However, they are very easy to pick up and use, even without any skill and you can even make your own for very little money. The problem is the quality of the cut usually leaves a lot to be desired even though the tools have improved somewhat over the years. My advice is to don't go there. I bought some long ago and ended up giving them away.

    One exception to carbide that is recommended is the carbide tools that Mike Hunter sells. They have a sharp cutter that can be used as a scraper or as a gouge. The quality of cut can be incredible. I use these a lot - my favorite for bowls and platters is the small Hercules: https://huntertoolsystems.com/product/3-hercules-tool/ One advantage of the Hunter tools is you never have to sharpen - you replace the cutter when it wears out. If starting out with turning, learning to sharpen correctly can be a challenge and has the expense of the grinder, wheels, and jig can be considerable.

    But overall, for bowls I'd recommend getting a good 1/2" HSS bowl gouge and learn to sharpen it. My favorite HHS tools are from Doug Thompson. http://thompsonlathetools.com/ These are made from some incredible steel. One of the most popular sharpening setups is a 1/2 speed bench grinder with a CBN wheel, a Oneway Wolverine setup, and a Oneway Varigrind jig to get a perfect grind. However, you can sharpen any gouge without a jig with some instruction and a lot of practice.

    But if relatively new to turning I strongly recommend becoming proficient on spindle turning first before starting on bowls. A number of experts say, and I agree, that spindle turning will teach you the fine tool control that will then let you turn anything, including bowls. For spindle turning a skew chisel and a spindle gouge will do almost everything, and the spindle roughing gouge that started this conversation will make easier to turn the square blank round. I often use a skew to rough the spindle blank but I do use a spindle roughing gouge some of the time. A large one (1" or wider) is handy; a small one can be used to shape the spindle. Those three tools and a parting tool are all you need.

    JKJ


    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Seidman View Post
    So I watched a YouTube video telling me not to use a spindle gouge on a bowl - for roughing. The video explained the dangers which I Will heed !

    So.... I realize that while my hardened steel tools have 2 spindle gouges, I have no Bowl Gouges !

    1) the tool called a roughing gouge - is it a bowl or spindle gouge ?

    2) do I want to stay w hardened steel or go to the carbon steel tools ?

    3) what is a great recomendation on a specific tool (brand, size) when it comes to value ? I prefer not to spend $ 100+ on the tool but do tell me of I simply need to spend the $$$ for quality.

    Thanks
    Allen

  8. #8
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    Agree with most of what's been said above. I used a "plain" M2 bowl gouge from Henry Taylor for 20+ years (it's almost gone now) and it worked fine. I currently have three 5/8" bowl gouges in different grinds with the two newest ones being from D-Way and Doug Thompson. The new ones definitely hold an edge better, but I did a lot of work with the Taylor with an Ellsworth grind. If money is a serious constraint I'd 1) get a used one from a fellow club member who is upgrading or 2) get an M2 tool from the likes of Packard, Hamlet, Crown etc. In any case with one tool I'd use the Ellsworth grind. (He's doing an online demo for the AAW in a couple weeks, watching that will be extremely worthwhile!)

    The other thing, is that having watched many live online remote demos in the last six months is that I'm seeing many pro turners using their "bowl" gouge for spindle work. It seems neither to slow them down nor produce unacceptable results. I assume they do it because it works well for them.

    For smaller (<2-3") spindle work I actually do most of my roughing with a skew; it's faster, better surface, and you don't have to switch tools as often.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    ...I'm seeing many pro turners using their "bowl" gouge for spindle work. It seems neither to slow them down nor produce unacceptable results. ...
    I sometimes use a small bowl gouge on spindles. But a spindle gouge, shallow spindle gouge, and especially a shallow detail gouge can more easily be sharpened to get into tighter places, like grooves on beads that are more like spheres. Of course, the skew is best for v-grooves but the curvature on the gouge makes it a little more forgiving.

    BTW, have you seen the double-ended tool with a bowl gouge on one and and a spindle gouge on the other? I'd have to check my notes to remember which demonstrator was using it at a symposium but it was for detail on a bowl.

    JKJ

  10. #10
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    Craft Supplies, Hamlet Tools, Glenn Lucas has spindle/bowl gouge combo.
    I also can't remember who demonstrated with it, but he used it un handled. A bit sketchy for my personal taste, but he is a pro. He did only use it for "finish" cuts, not roughing.
    I remember thinking I wanted a combo gouge, then I came to my senses. I already have too many gouges...... I do have double ended Oneway gouges, and they are among my very favorite tools, but I find I rarely swap the ends. Too much time to get the allen wrench and switch..... Actually too lazy. I just sharpen them. Recently, I sharpened one side to a 40/40 (typically I use 65) grind, which I find useful, but again I change it and then I grab another gouge to avoid swapping ends.

  11. #11
    Before I could give a recommendation on tooling, I would want to know what your ability to sharpen currently is. If you don't currently have a setup to sharpen, then you need to factor in that as a cost as well (which can get expensive!). I started with the 1/2hp rikon, realized I couldn't sharpen freehand, and then bought the Oneway wolverine setup with V-arm and vari-grind 1. I still used the original wheels for a while, and then have gradually changed to CBN wheels (mega square from woodturnerswonders, 180 grit first, and then 600 grit later), and I also added a Robo Hippy grinder tool rest. All that to say, you don't have to buy an expensive setup right away, but to make things more convenient and repeatable, you'll most likely eventually want a more expensive sharpening setup.

    For when I started turning though, I essentially started with Easy Wood Tools, and honestly, I am a big fan of carbide tipped tools for beginners. There was no way that I would have been able to invest in a sharpening setup when I first started, and there was no way that I would have had the experience and understanding on exactly how to sharpen well. I actually had bought a super cheap harbor freight HSS set at the very beginning when I bought my first lathe, and when they went dull, I realized I could either buy a sharpening setup or go with easy wood tools, and that is when I bought my easy wood tools full size rougher, then a mid size finisher, and then much later a starter detailer. I now also have the #3 pro size swan neck hollower for when I do rim undercuts and hollow forms.

    I used the carbide-tipped tools for many years, probably around 6-8 years for my turning projects (mostly pens, some spindle, and limited bowl work). I wore out my first starter lathe (the midi harbor freight, I was really trying to keep my costs down when I first started), and when I bought my Laguna 12/16, I wanted to start doing more bowl work, and I wanted to learn how to use traditional tools, so I started with a cheaper sorby, then a crown ellsworth, and worked with those for a while to learn how to use them and how to sharpen them. As I've gained experience, I've also needed to buy more tool rests to match what I wanted to be able to turn.

    I have now started to phase my tooling into the more expensive tooling. After much research, I eventually decided to start with D-Way M42 gouges, and I have been exceptionally happy with their tooling. I now have many of their tools (5/8 bowl gouge, 5/8 bottom feeder, spindle roughing, 3/8 spindle detailing, 1" skew, two negative rake scrapers, 1/8 parting tool, and 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 beadings tools - all are great), and a set of handles. I do plan on buying more of their tools in the future, and now that I have enough of their handles and bushings, I don't have to buy any more handles. I honestly still use my carbide tools when I feel it is appropriate, I don't feel like I have to shun them now that I have nicer tooling.

    I do think the Crown Ellsworth signature gouge is a great gouge to get started on, to learn how to use, and to learn how to sharpen on. Sorby is a cheaper alternative to also learn on.

    I personally like the idea of buying decent/ok tools to learn how to use and sharpen on before buying the expensive tools.

    A few questions to gain clarity:

    What is your total budget?
    What are you goals to be able to turn?
    What sharpening equipment do you already have?
    What turning tools do you already have?
    What lathe do you have?

  12. #12
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    While I dearly love my CBN wheels and wouldn't want to go back, I did turn for the first couple of decades with at least moderate success sharpening on a 50 year old sears 6" grinder, It's pretty easy to come by one of these at a garage sale for under $20. I'd replace the gray carbide wheels with a white AlOx wheel (another $20 each) and you're good to go. Or jump to the 1/2 HP 8" Rikon that comes with OK white wheels on sale for around $120. You don't have to spend a fortune on sharpening, the tradeoff might be some time spent practicing. Back when I had more time than money that was a good deal and resulted in some useful skills as well.

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