Spindle Gouges


Roughing Gouge

Click on image for larger view
Spindle roughing gouge unhandled

The roughing gouge performs the initial removal of wood in spindle turning. The high flute sides make it ideal for roughing from square to round with the cut made in the center area of the gouge. The sides cut like a skew to smooth the ripples from cylinder and taper shapes leaving a surface finish good enough to go straight to sanding without using any other tool. The roughing gouge works well in pen turning also.

The roughing gouge is not a tool for use in bowl turning. The large amount of cutting edge and the small tang of the tool at the handle make this tool a bad choice for large diameter faceplate turning.

End view of roughing gouge

You can see from this view the flat stock sectioned metal used to form the gouge. Roughing gouges range in size from to 1 . Select the size gouge for the size spindle turned.

This is a view of the gouge straight form the grinder with the wire edge still visible. I go straight from the grinder back to turning with this tool. The wood itself will remove the fine wire edge quickly so I do not take extra time to hone it. When turning spindles with the bevel rubbing the wood acts like a buffing wheel and actually improves the sharpness of the edge for a short time before starting to wear the edge away. If the edge were presented to the wood with no bevel contact like a scraping cut the edge would start to wear away immediately.

Roughing gouge bevel side view

I grind my roughing gouge as most do straight across on the edge. The grind I prefer on this gouge is acute, 38 degrees, while others may prefer a blunter one. It is your tool to grind, as you like for your style turning.

underside view of roughing gouge bevel

Since the metal of the gouge is consistent in thickness throughout its width, the ground bevel length stays the same also.

Round section spindle gouge

Three sizes of spindle gouges

These are my three favorite spindle gouges. They are 1/2, 3/8, and 1/4 from left to right. The gouges are round stock with a fingernail grind. With these three gouges, I can turn most any spindle shape and detail bowls or hollow forms.

End view of spindle gouge

This gouge has a lot thicker section of metal in the center than the sides. The center is where most all cutting takes place. The thickness of the tool makes it more rigid and able to resist vibration which would cause ripples in the turned wood surface.

Top view of spindle gougr

This view shows where the term fingernail grind comes from. The end looks like a manicured long fingernail. This profile gives more actual cutting edge on the tool than one ground straight across and allows the cutting edge to get into tighter areas because the flute sides are ground back.

Side view of spindle gouge bevel

You can see from the bevel where the tool is thicker the bevel will be longer. If the tool were like the roughing gouge, uniform in thickness from side to side, the bevel would be the same length from side to side. The bevel angle is 38 degrees.

Bottom view of spindle gouge bevel

This view shows that the bevel is straight across even though the cutting edge is round in profile. It does not parallel the edged profile like the roughing gouge.