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Thread: Fingernail grind bowl gouges

  1. #1

    Default Fingernail grind bowl gouges

    I took a green bowl turning class today, and now am in the market for a bowl gouge.... understand that a 3/8 gouge with the finernail/celtic grind is the tool to is my question.. is there enough differnce between the tool from say Packard (there fingernail profile gouge) and Sorby to warrant the price difference?.... I am open to either, but just wondered if the cost difference is really because of the tool or the name?..... I do not recall the cost of the Packard tool, but the Sorby from Woodcraft is in the 65.00 range and Packard is close to 1/2 the price...tks for the input...had a great class today and eager to make some bowls now...Dennis
    Dennis Taylor

  2. #2


    My first gouge was the Packard 1/2" bowl gouge and it was ground to a fingernail profile by Bill Grumbine when I took a class with him... it is a great gouge and I am still using it today. I later purchased a 3/8" gouge and ground that myself... I find them to be a good value.. especially for the beginner.. The Packard Brand tools are made for them by either Crown or Hamlet.. both good tool companies... according to the catalog the only difference is the finish.. it is not as well polished... and I can live with that.. LOL
    You might also want to look at the ones the Lee Valley sells
    A couple of the guys at my club bought them and made handles themselves and are very pleased..
    Last edited by oldgriz; 08-01-2004 at 11:08 AM.
    Tom Mullane
    Hagerstown, MD
    Old Griz Scroll Art
    My Favorite Pen

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    billerica, ma


    There likely is some difference in the quality of the metal. HSS comes in many forms and levels of quality. That being said, Packard may make quite good tools. I have Sorbys myself, just because that was what was available locally, and I've been very happy with them. Other Packard owners out there?


  4. #4

    Default beginner bowl gouge

    I would look at the Crown or Packard 5/8 bowl gouges available in Packard's catalog. THey are the best buy for the moneyI do 90% of all my turning using this one gouge ground irish grind. If you are a beginner get the wolverine jig to get a consistent grind until you learn to free-hand it. Alan Lacer has a good description on his web site for what the profile should look like.

  5. #5


    I agree with Bob that a fingernail grind is most effective when you can sharpen it. I often turn hard wood and it can dull the grind in 10-15 min. It only takes 10 seconds to put the gouge in a jig and retouch the tip. I never became good at freehand sharpening - and the jig is quite effective and efficient. But the net of this is that you must maintain a sharp edge.

  6. #6


    I have the wolverine Jig and slow speed grinder, and sharpen my spindle gouges with the fingernail, so sharpening isn't an issue...just curious is the $$$ difference worth either of the other tools/ Sorby/Crown/Packard...Dennis
    Dennis Taylor

  7. #7


    Most of the top brands will probably have similar wear patterns for HSS. I have done a lot of turning (last year) and started using PM (Particle Metal) tools. There is a distinct difference in they stay sharp much longer. That's good when you have real hard wood or are doing production work. But they are significantly more expensive.

    If you're just starting out, the HSS tools from any of those top vendors will probably be so similar that you wouldn't detect a difference. I still use the HSS tools, and most of mine are from Crown. But again, the steel is probably nearly the same as other vendors. Frankly it may just boil down to which handles you like. I have not used the Packard tools, but they probably will do the trick.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Red Bank NJ

    Default Different strokes...

    Everyone has their own preference so I thought I would check in with mine. I have had very good results using tools made by Record Power. They are made in UK, but you can find them here in the US. The wood shop .com did handle them. Their 3/8 bowl gouge is excellent. I have 2. One with the fingernail grind and one with a standard grind. The standard one is almost ground down to the end but I bought it around 1997. It withstood a lot of use and missuse while i learned to turn and sharpen. The cost was quite reasonable.
    Two notes. First I have been wary of "Sets" of tools. They always seem to be a good deal in that you get several tools for a good price. But the tools that they package together are never the ones that I am looking for, ie they have two scrapers and two gouges when I want a gouge and a parting tool and a skew.
    Second, The 1/2" bowl gouge from Record Power does not seem to lend itself to a fingernail grind as the flute is seems to be angled too steeply. But maybe I'm doing something wrong.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Alpine, AL


    I have tools made by Sorby, Crown, Henry Taylor, and Craft USA (Woodturners brand made by Hamlet). I can't tell much difference in the metal in the purchased tools as all are HSS and not being a professional turner, I haven't used them enough to say which ones are going to last the longest. All of them hold a good edge. I now have 3 bowl gouges as I have gotten to like different grinds for different jobs and have found some major differences in the flutes as to the grind it will accept. Look at the Henry Taylor Super Flute - my latest acquisition and my favorite.

    Remember also to make sure how they are measuring the gouges. The normal way (what I was taught) is for spindle gouges to measure the stock diameter and the bowl gouges to measure the flute width. I have seen some companies lately that are doing otherwise in their catalogs.

    My biggest complaint is some of the handles - I don't know who designs the handles and why one tool by a company has a handle I like and the next tool I order by that company has a tool that will hurt my hand! I have had to make handles for several tools and found that to fix problems I was having with control and proper use of the tool. I wish all tools were available as unhandled but don't hesitate to knock a handle off and make one that feels good to you - we are woodturners!!


  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Bob D
    If you are a beginner get the wolverine jig to get a consistent grind until you learn to free-hand it. Alan Lacer has a good description on his web site for what the profile should look like.

    I prefer the tru-grind to the wolverine because you will not have to buy any add ons for other tools unlike the wolverine which by the time you are done could getting attachments to grind all the tools will be $200 or more as opposed to $150 for tru-grind if you buy from the guy who sells them on his ebay shop. Also if you are unsure about grinding the true grind jig comes with a video cd
    Last edited by woodboy; 08-02-2004 at 04:18 PM.

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