bowl gouge what to buy

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Charles Hill, May 19, 2013.

  1. Charles Hill

    Charles Hill

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    Should I buy a finger bowl gouge or just a bowl gouge?

    what is your opinions of what make, brand and price

    I am looking Robert Sorby Am interested in what everyone thinks is good and bad investment in bowl gouges



    Charles Hill
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Charles,

    I suggest you connect with some woodturners and get some guidance on the use and sharpening of the bowl gouge. Best of all if you can take a quality 3-5 day bowl turning class you will have the basic skills and know what gouge to buy. Connect with an AAW chapter. they may know of classes, have a mentoring session, demos. Our local Tri-county chapter is having a bowl turning workshop next Saturday cost is $5 for lunch. Lots of chapters do similar things.

    My recommendation is to use the side-ground bow gouge. the Ellsworth grind is my preference. you can shape the profile on any gouge with a parabolic ground flute.

    The Henry Taylor gouges have a nice shaped flute for this such as the
    Craft supplies artisan gouge which is a good low cost starter gouge.
    Packard has crown with similar flutes.
    Thompson has a great gouge too ideal for your second or third.

    Sorby gouge has too wide a flute for my style. someone gave us a Sorby gouge about 12 years ago.
    it is a fine tool and works ok with a traditional grind. I have probably bought 15 gouges since then and haven't ground an inch off the Sorby.

    I'll post the link to AAW chapters here
    http://www.woodturner.org/community/chapters/LocalChapters.asp

    Al
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  3. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    First, the bad news -- bowl gouges and other turning tools are an expense and not an investment. If you do not have other tools yet, you will also need an assortment of various tools -- all of them are additional expenses. Even the pros don't count them as investments when doing their taxes.

    I have some tools of most popular brands -- Sorby, Crown, Taylor, Thompson, P&N, etc. Brand preference is somewhat like what exists in golf clubs, cameras, airplanes, and dinner plates. They all do the job, but we like something about particular brands that may or may not have any logical basis. You won't go wrong with any of them.

    Signature tools cost much more than the plain ones just because somebody's name is stamped on the handle and it comes with the special grind of the FNTWWAKAR* already on the tool. You can normally save a few bucks by getting the plain vanilla tool and duplicating the bevel profile of the FNTWWAKAR yourself. There might be some few cases where the flute of the signature gouge of the FNTWWAKAR is unique, but I would say that any difference is barely if at all noticeable.

    About half of my bowl gouges came with a standard straight grind and now all of them are swept back to some degree on the sides and they have a variety of bevel angles at the nose. All of these various grinds are subject to change slightly from time to time -- either on purpose or otherwise.

    You can save a lot of money by not getting cryo treated or powdered metal tools. Those fancy tools are supposed to hold an edge longer, but the difference between them and regular high speed steel is not a big deal -- just a little deal for a lot more money. Just stay away from cheap carbon steel if it can even still be found. I don't get off brand tools from Asia just because I don't know what I am getting, there is no support if there is a problem, and handle ergonomics is nonexistent. Also, like Darrel Royal, I believe that, "you gotta dance with the one who brung you."



    *FNTWWAKAR = famous name turner who we all know and respect
     
  4. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I consider the Thompson and D Way tools to be at least as good as any out there, and you buy from the guys who make the tools. Far better than M2 HSS. Other than that, there is a lot of variety. I actually don't use the swept back grinds any more, preferring the more standard finger nail grind. I do all my heavy roughing with scrapers, and am a bit unusual that way. You do need 2 gouges for bowl turning. Just about any grind will work for the outside of the bowl, but you need 2 for the inside. The problem lies in getting around the transition and across the bottom of the bowl. With shallow bowl/platter forms, not a problem, but with deeper bowls, you can go down the side, with a nice bevel rubbing cut, but when you try to go round the transition and across the bottom, the rim of the bowl and your tool rest get in the way, and you come off the bevel. Much harder to control your tools that way. Having a more open fluted gouge ground to a 60 or so degree bevel really helps.

    Do find the nearest club. I do have a couple of clips up on You Tube if you type in robo hippy.

    robo hippy
     
  5. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I did a survey a few years ago and most turners use and recommend a 1/2" bowl gouge ( by USA standards) and they generally use something that resembles the swept back grind similar to David Ellsworth. Most of the rest recommended 5/8" so if you turn larger work get the 5/8" if normal or small get the 1/2". Flute shape doesn't make a lot of difference for new turners. Learning to sharpen makes a huge difference so spend the time doing that.
    You should know that the English tools measure the flute width and the USA uses the width of the steel. So a 1/2" English gouge like a sorby and Henry Taylor is the same as a 5/8" American gouge such as D way or Thompson.
    To get an idea of what many tools look like when sharpened go here and check them out.
    http://www.woodcentral.com/newforum/grinds.shtml
     
  6. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    I have three Sorby deep flute ("bowl") gouges. The one most used has a 5/8 inch U shaped flute, and is getting short in the tooth. I also have PM, old carbon, and vanadium alloy tools. I haven't noticed anything too "special" about the alloys, but if the pattern is right, I would have no problem buying one again. If you sharpen frequently and freehand, you can amortize your cost over a thousand or three pieces anyway. Make the last passes with a less-than-fresh edge on your famous name super alloy, and you'll spend more in paper to correct what you could have cut if you'd sharpened. People who talk about short life gouges also talk about grinding jigs. I think there's cause and effect in operation there.

    Only design I would definitely avoid would be a V flute type, I dig and hog heavily enough that I fold and load shavings with them. The U ejects as I like. After that, take your choice. You will have to work your way into a favorite grind or learn the grind you got, so don't let that initial conformation bother you unduly. As you see at the URL John referenced, there's more than one way to grind a gouge. I'd get a 1/2" flute for heavy, and 1/4" flute for smaller/steeper work.
     
  7. Jeff Gilfor

    Jeff Gilfor

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    I can't add that much to what's already been said, and I agree with all of it.
    But...
    Being a rather new turner (about a year) who did a lot of carving before this, perhaps I can lend some perspective from a beginner's point of view.

    When I first started turning, I asked the same question as you. I was told to start with a 1/2 inch bowl gouge, and straight and round nose scrapers. I was also told to get the least expensive decent steel I could afford to RUIN. That's right, I said "ruin." I ended up getting some Penn Sate tools, which served me well (still have some flute on the gouge, and still use the scrapers regularly).

    Until you get comfortable sharpening and understanding which type bevel you like for which applications, you will go through gouge steel much faster than after you've gotten past the rather steep beginning learner's curve. It make sense to get the best you can afford, but I really wouldn't go nuts until you've gotten better at the basics.

    I would agree that Thompson and D-Way are some of the best tools available (there are a few other brands that nearly equal them too), but I would tell you to stick with less expensive steel until you better know what you want.
     
  8. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Hmmm been using a V gouge for about 10 years now. I don't see much difference in it and the U for chip ejection. I like the V because the wings grind at a slightly blunter angle which lets them hold an edge longer.
    I also do a lot of pull cuts for some shapes and on these I actually like the sharper edge of the U shape.
    I find proper use of a jig actually reduced the amount of steel removed from the blade. In a years worth of sharpening I used 1" of steel off my Thompson gouge. I don't know how many pieces were turned but it's my most frequently used tool so probably in the high hundreds since I turn something just about every day. I know how much because I purchased a new tool was able to compare them side by side.
    I do sharpen by hand on some tools. I find that I don't always nail it perfect every time and will have to touch it up some of the time which of course removes more steel. I do think hand sharpening is a good way to go for many tools however the bowl gouge is one that is just easier and more accurate with a jig.
     
  9. Jeff Gilfor

    Jeff Gilfor

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    I agree about using less to steel with a jig; I was saying that, until you know which grind you prefer, you'll go through some steel changing from one to the other.
     
  10. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I think the point is don't buy a high priced gouge until you learn to sharpen.
    I use a jig for my bowl gouges.
    My reasoning many years ago was that the jig cost $20 and gouges cost $40 ( double or triple for today's prices)
    Using a jig my gouges lasted twice as long. I could hand sharpen the Ellsworth grind but once a week I would mess up and have to work for 5 minutes setting it right.

    That said a jig is a guide and still needs a competent operator.
    I have seen hundreds of bad profiles created using a jig.

    Have fun,
    Al
     
  11. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    maybe a half step in front of you at most



    Charles,

    As you can see by my very recent posts, I am a half step in front of you at most, maybe the same place or a little behind. What I have found is that most of the video is near useless unless you have a similarly ground gouge. You will need a fairly steep grind on one, but I do recommend slightly ground back wings unless you are a glutton for punishment. Even five or ten degrees off square reduced my catches tremendously. Anyway, you need that steep gouge inside a bowl. Also as others have advised me and I'm now passing on, shallow shapes to your bowls to learn. Don't make straight up and down sidewalls and do make big sweeping curves for the transition from wall to bottom or make the entire bowl in one sweeping curve.

    Back to what I said about video, many of the techniques shown in video are totally different angles or impossible without the swept back wings, Ellsworth style or similar. For now, I really think you can pick whichever swept back grind strikes your fancy. they aren't that much different for the most part. Might want to avoid the Michelson for now just because it is different. A great grind I'll try someday but I have a suspicion it isn't a great grind for a beginner. I don't know, just a suspicion. I think I'm going to try a Lyle Jamieson grind just because I have good pictures of it and I like his approach to turning. I don't know that it is better or worse than any of the other signature grinds but as others have already said, once you are in the neighborhood it is easy to swap from one signature grind to the other. Not much metal removed that is, my grinding is still a work in progress!

    Hu
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  12. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Sharpening: I haven't used a gouge jig in years, and free hand sharpen all my tools. A good platform helps. As for the 'you waste more steel' argument, it is not related to which system you use, but to your experience level. When rookies, we all tend to over grind. This is true with jigs, and true with free hand sharpening. The point is you 'grind' to reshape the edge, and when sharpening, it is like bevel rubbing cuts: the bevel should rub the wood, but the wood should not know it. Very light pressure makes your tools last longer. On the Mike Mahoney clip, he uses 60 grit wheels because he feels that a 'more serrated edge' cuts better. For sure, coarse grits will eat up the steel much faster.

    As for V flutes vs U or C or ) flutes, there are many variations. I think the Doug Thompson V flute is pretty open. I have seen some V flutes that are so steep, I can't see how they even milled them that steep, and consider them worthless (one by Jet in particular). I did have problems with my Glaser deep V gouge clogging up, but not the Thompson. That might have been me though because I don't use the Glaser any more, and haven't in a long time. There are no cuts that can be done with the swept back grinds that can not be done with a finger nail grind. Only real difference is that there is more wing area, so you can get more steel/cutting edge into the wood as you cut, depending on if your lathe has the horse power to remove that much wood at one time. I do feel that maybe the V flutes might a slight advantage with a dropped handle shear cut, but that is minimal. When doing finish cuts, the nose has the high shear angle, and I always roll the gouge on its side. This has the nose doing a high shear angle cut, and the wings are more scraping (more scraping if the handle is held level, less scraping if the handle is dropped). When you use the more open flute designs, there is more nose area and a larger sweet spot for the high shear angle. A ) flute shape, rolled onto its side cuts like a skew chisel. I am tending to favor this cut more and more, and have ground a spindle/detail gouge or two to that nose profile for a finish cutting tool. I also love the fluteless gouge from Doug for this cut.

    This is a link to how I platform sharpen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ7w6yFhw4c

    robo hippy
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  13. Mike Peace

    Mike Peace

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    I have a Thompson U and V. Still deciding which I like better. hated the V flute on the two WC pinnacle or wood river BG's. they did clog a lot.
     
  14. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    The advise to join a turners club and get some hands on with various folks tools and grinds is good advise. You will over time come to like particular grinds. I use many brands. I have been using Thompson and Benjamins best from Penn State side by side. with the same grind. Thompson will cut longer before needing sharpened. I got round flutes from Doug and sold them cause I could not get used to them. His 3/8ths(1/2inch steel) V shape is what I have left. I have a bit of a drawn back grind on both tools so I can compare apples to apples. For the money B's best is a no brainer to waste some steel. You can get a three set, steel size 3/8, 1/2, 5/8ths, so flute 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 for $54. I only have just tried a Dway tool and really liked it. So will put one on my buy list when I want another gouge.
    The is no one grind for everything. If your gouge starts running back on you, you have run out of bevel to support your cut. So a more shallow bevel is needed. An Ellswoth style grind can come close to all purpose.
    Try others tools and ask why and have them show you. Then you try it. as with anything practice is the key.
     
  15. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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  16. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    Michael, Short bevel. and the sides are barely drawn back. Not quite straight up but close. This grind does not stay as sharp as a longer bevel. So needs to hit the grinder a bit more often. Its been awhile since I measured the angle so I have forgotten. On page 7 of the Packard catalog there is an Al Stirt finishing bowl gouge. Its short bevel. Its a U shaped gouge. I do that grind on a V shaped gouge. I can also turn the tool upside down on cuts. No way for it to catch. I will try to remember short and not shallow.
     
  17. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    When you join the club, ask some of the guys to show you their bowl gouges and see if you can try them. Most of them would hand it right over to you. If you have some trepidation, just tell them you are a little timid, and want to learn correctly. Have them set you up with some wet wood with the intent of just making shavings, not a finished work of art.

    It takes a good bit of time to understand that the curve is based on following the bevel and moving the long end of the handle. Just figure out how to mow wood first. How to use the gouge and the flute to your liking.
     
  18. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    A grind which sounds very traditional. You're cutting handle nearly horizontal, I assume? I grind a long bevel, equal across the nose, and do pretty much the same. Longer bevels slice easier.
     
  19. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I don't think the length of the bevel has anything to do with how it cuts. I use very short main bevels now on all my tools except the skew. The width of the blade or area actually removing the wood might make a difference such as a wide spindle gouge vs a V shaped bowl gouge. In those instances you have a very long cutting edge vs a short cutting edge (if you assume your just using the tip of the bowl gouge and they are both held at the same angle)
    I have played with convex grindes, flat grinds and concave grinds with the bevel being honed (so in effect you have a very short bevel). I can't tell much difference in the cut or handling except on the inside of bowls where the short main bevel or convex grind seems to leave a smoother less bumpy surface but even that's dependant on lathe speed and how fast or slow you move the tool.
     

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  20. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    Really? Of course the length of the bevel is only important as it relates to the thickness of the steel at the same point - the sharpness angle defined. It does make a difference, because more acute sharpness angles slice the wood more easily than less acute angles, where the pitch must be increased to obtain the same clearance angle. Proof is easy by simply allowing the clearance angle to increase in a test of a knife blade beginning nearly parallel to the surface of a stick, through increasing pitch angles to an actual "negative bevel" situation. Edge versus wood 100.

    You will note that stock removal is possible at all clearance angles, so why not decrease your sharpness angle to give yourself more options instead of getting that pesky heel in the way?
     

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