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Thread: Spindle gouges (and bedan) - a little clarity please

  1. #1
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    Spindle gouges (and bedan) - a little clarity please

    As I educate myself further, i find that I'm having a little trouble understanding a few things - I'm a newer turner and don't get as much time on my lathe as I'd like.

    I've been using the skew as much as humanly possible to do spindle work (in order to learn how to use the tool) and I'm just starting to get comfortable with it so I've tried introducing spindle gouges into my practice and I'm having mediocre results rolling (uniform and consistent) beads and outside curves in general. The only real uses I'm finding for the traditional spindle gouge are back-hollowing end grain and cove work, these things are awesome for that although I still prefer the skew for larger sweeping coves. I have to assume it's because I'm not so good with the tool yet?

    Furthermore, I did find an iteration of the spindle gouge that, for me, works really well to roll beads and I'm not sure why. I made the tool in this video ( https://youtu.be/DdvYGjOwvGg?si=MMX6kU0sRe528lkQ ) and it's ridiculous easy to use to roll any bead or detail. I used a 6 inch grinder to make the shallow hollow instead of the 8" he used in the video. I'm using 8mm x 8mm square hss stock. Is this based on a traditional tool? Is there such a thing as a near-fluteless spindle gouge? I found/have a sorby 3/4" and the flute is very shallow compared to my smaller gouges (I haven't tried the tool yet though - getting there) but I can't find smaller and shallow. Why does this work so much better?

    I also made a bedan with the same stock and ground it 40į on one side. I've seen clips of folks using these effortlessly to do amazing bead work but I'm finding zero instruction on how to use the tool and my own experiments are only yielding catches and poorly shaped work so my bedan is currently limited to being used as a large parting tool. How can I get more out of this gouge?

    Lastly, the diamond shaped gouges (they have a triangle tip) that are used to pull beads, any good? I have a piece of stock left and was thinking of making one to try out but I'm not sure if it's useful compared to (or in lieu of) the skew or spindle gouge.

    Really appreciate the input and guidance so thanks in advance.
    Last edited by John Kananis; 02-22-2024 at 10:43 AM.
    "The reward of a thing well done is having done it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2
    If you're finding the traditioal spindle difficult for the sweeping curves you mentioned, I would suggest a couple of things.
    1. You might prefer a detail gouge, same as a spindle gouge but the flute is shallower.
    2. You could also try a continental spindle gouge, this has a more gentle sweep or curvature, which makes it easier to achieve the smooth long curves you mentioned.
    Examples
    Spindle-Gouges-10-12-15.jpg88373.jpg

  3. #3
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    Hi Edward, thanks for the input. I have the detail gouge you've pictured. I can form the sweep with it but I feel that it takes more work to achieve a nice curve where the skew just kind of achieves it with more natural effort.

    I have tried the continental gouge - I picked up a cheapo wood river roughing gouge and reshaped it. It's nice for roughing bigger curves for sure so I'll look info getting a quality tool to replace this one eventually.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kananis View Post
    Hi Edward, thanks for the input. I have the detail gouge you've pictured. I can form the sweep with it but I feel that it takes more work to achieve a nice curve where the skew just kind of achieves it with more natural effort.

    I have tried the continental gouge - I picked up a cheapo wood river roughing gouge and reshaped it. It's nice for roughing bigger curves for sure so I'll look info getting a quality tool to replace this one eventually.
    I've been turning for a long time and while I can use a skew, I just prefer not to at this stage. I just never had the feel I wanted. If I was inclined to spend more time with it, I'm sure I'd improve.
    There are different body movements when using the skew vs using a gouge. With a gouge you sometimes need to roll the tool toward your cut, often lifting the handle simultaneously. Not the same movements as with a skew
    I mainly use the gouges I've shown and of course, spindle roughing gouges, they get used for far more than roughing.
    A continental gouge is more like a skew than any other gouge, with it's wide shallow curve, just more forgiving.

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    I think the fact that the spindle gouge is a) more forgiving and b) allows you to make more aggressive cuts is what's causing me issues. I'll practice more and see if it gets any more natural feeling but I've grown partial to the precision (maybe the wrong word) of the skew.

  6. #6
    Don't let my dislike for the skew discourage you from using it.
    As they often say, many swear by the skew and many swear at it.

  7. #7
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    John,

    I use both a bedan and several skews. The skew is a tool that one has to practice using a lot to become skilled with it. Over a decade ago, a fellow Creeker and I challenged each other and for a month the skews were the only tools we used. After turning almost daily with a skew it became a really useful tool. I don't turn much lately but I just turned a small section on 4 octagon table legs for a dining table I am building. Most of the work was done with a skew. A skew can produce such a smooth surface, that any sanding will detract from the finish the skew produced. Again, practice is the key.

    The bedan is a tool that's more useful, IMO, than a parting tool. It can also replace some of skew work.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

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    Ken, can you point me in the direction of some education (for bedan use)? I can't find much and all the turners I've met locally and at my club, refuse to use straight cutting tools like the skew and bedan. There's enough info out there on the skew but the bedan, not so much.

  9. #9
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    John, I went to Youtube videos and typed in "using a bedan". Here's what I got. The ones with Jean FranÁois Escoulen from France teaching in Japan is one from which I learned. Sorby tools in Great Britain used to have one too. https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...=using+a+bedan
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 02-23-2024 at 12:39 AM.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  10. #10
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    Ken, thanks I found those actually and they inspired me to try the tool out but my eggs look more like scrambled eggs than hard boiled lol. I'll keep at it, ty.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    John, I went to Youtube videos and typed in "using a bedan". Here's what I got. The ones with Jean FranÁois Escoulen from France teaching in Japan is one from which I learned. Sorby tools in Great Britain used to have one too. https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...=using+a+bedan
    Edit: I forgot to ask, I notice that some people sharpen both top and bottom of the bedan and some only one face as I've done. What's the difference, which is correct? Thanks again.
    Last edited by John Kananis; 02-23-2024 at 10:22 AM.

  11. #11
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    John, I sharpen the face (short angled face) and then diamond hone all 4 sides. That being said, find a method that works best for you. The only time I use a lot of pressure with my bedan is when I am roughing something. After that, it becomes a very light pressure. If you find things are requiring more than normal pressure, try resharpening or in my case rehoning. Keep practicing, the skill will come.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  12. #12
    As ken said, it's really only necessary to sharpen the actual bevel but a honing or deburring of the other faces won't hurt anything.

  13. #13
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    Great, thank you both - I'll keep at it.

  14. #14
    FWIW I learned the skew before ever purchasing a spindle gouge and when I finally did, I thought the spindle gouge was way harder to learn. I was taking my first in-person class at the time and the instructors didnít really know how to teach spindle gouge use (it seemed like they thought it should be inherently obvious how to use it!). I found some YouTube videos by Mark Sallay teaching some clubs and he is very specific on what cuts can be done with a spindle gouge and how to hold it, etc. It made learning how to use the spindle gouge very easy (now I just need more practice to be better at it).

    About 2 years later I purchased a detail gouge (shallower flute and sharpened at 30 degrees vs 40-45 for my spindle gouge) and it is now my go-to gouge for most of my spindle work.

    Good luck.
    Tom

  15. #15
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    Thomas, I found a few of his videos and will check them out... thanks for the direction and inspiration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson80 View Post
    FWIW I learned the skew before ever purchasing a spindle gouge and when I finally did, I thought the spindle gouge was way harder to learn. I was taking my first in-person class at the time and the instructors didnít really know how to teach spindle gouge use (it seemed like they thought it should be inherently obvious how to use it!). I found some YouTube videos by Mark Sallay teaching some clubs and he is very specific on what cuts can be done with a spindle gouge and how to hold it, etc. It made learning how to use the spindle gouge very easy (now I just need more practice to be better at it).

    About 2 years later I purchased a detail gouge (shallower flute and sharpened at 30 degrees vs 40-45 for my spindle gouge) and it is now my go-to gouge for most of my spindle work.

    Good luck.
    Tom

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