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gouge suggestion

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  • gouge suggestion

    I have been carving less than a year using OCC and helvie knife. Carving figures with everything less than 6 inches tall.I would like to start obtaining a few gouges. Can anyone suggest any as related to type, size and sweep? Thanks

  • #2
    Gouges come in a range of sizes. I think it's related to the size of the carvings.

    Palm gouges: I've seen them but never used them. Other carvers here can help.
    Pfeil makes a 'D' series of gouges. Regular steel but smaller handles.
    Full sized gouges. Top brands are Pfeil, Ashley Iles, Henry Taylor, Stubai, Narex and others.

    The curvatures all tend to follow a set of guidelines called the London Pattern Book.
    Or at the very least they should. That way, you can order a gouge and be assured of the size and sweep.

    In the beginning, I did a carving class on weekends with a full time professional carver.
    I bought his recommended list of gouges, believing that I might get around to doing more.

    All Pfeil. That's the arrow stamped into the steel.
    Pfeil also marks their tool handles with SWISS MADE.
    The first number is the sweep. The second number is the width in millimeters.

    12 oz (375g) Shop Fox carver's mallet
    1k and 4k water stones and a leather strop with CrOx honing compound.

    It was a long time before I realized that I needed a much bigger rough-out gouge.
    I bought a 9/15 and a 30 oz lead core mallet.
    == == = =
    Major changes in style and tools didn't happen for another 10 years.
    The above tools served me very well for carvings up to maybe 12".
    Brian T


    • #3
      So you are perched on the precarious precipice. I’m going to suggest a big leap, and let you decide if that’s the right choice for you.
      Compared to many here I’m relatively new to carving about five years now. Three years ago while considering a carving vise. I came across an online vise review written by a professional carver, that turned out to be a “why I’m a better carver than you’ll every be” article that briefly mentioned carving vises. The arrogant ***** who wrote it really annoyed me. But I could see the logic of what he was saying.

      To condense the “How Great I Are” article. Get a vise get full sized tools forget the mallet.

      It is safer.
      With the wood securely held and both hands behind the cutting edge of the tool it’s pretty difficult to cut yourself.

      It’s more precise.
      With one hand steering the blade and one providing power you have more control over your cuts.

      It’s faster.
      You can remove wood quickly when carving with two hands on the tool compared to palm tools.

      Less fatigue equals longer carving sessions.
      Your energy is focused on carving wood not holding it.

      Now I’m doubtful you’ll follow these suggestions but at least you’ve been told.

      AKA Ed
      Last edited by Nebraska; 06-25-2020, 12:11 PM.


      • #4
        Just starting on smaller carving I would recommend a 3/8 #3, a 3/8 #9 a 3/8 60 degree V tool and maybe a 1/8 #11. and add to it as you go along. My wife got me a 16 piece flex cut set a long time ago it took years before I used every tool but I have. Flex cut sets are relatively inexpensive, epecially if you don't get the handles and either rotate one or fashion your own or add to them, and good tools the problem with sets is you always get a skew knife which I seldom if ever use


        • #5
          Still depends on the carving style. Unlike Uvawyo, I make great use of skews. I've got half a dozen, some 1/2" left & right pairs, one is 1" wide and I use them all in formline carvings.

          Not in the beginning. My interests began to drift as the years went by.
          Brian T


          • #6
            If there is a carving club or another carver near you, get in touch with them, maybe some hands-on experience
            . . .JoeB


            • #7
              Most on here will recommend NOT buying a set, as there are often tools you'll never use in the set. Since you are carving six inch or smaller figures in the round, as do I, I'd recommend this set: I bought this set around 15 years ago, and still use every tool in it almost daily. When I started carving larger pieces (up to 15 inches tall or so) I bought a mallet and this set: I don't use this set as often as the palm tools, but when I do a larger carving, this set works well for me. I use all the tools in the set. I also bought an Eli vise to hold the larger pieces It doesn't slip, even at full extension and pounding with a mallet. Another set that I bought for small carvings is Again, I use all these tools nearly every day.

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              • #8
                Claude? I suppose the smallest piece you can use with the vise is 2 inches?


                • #9
                  No - that's just the diameter of the smaller of the two flanges. You could fasten a smaller piece to a 2x2 block of wood, or even a 1 inch thick by whatever piece of plywood, for example, then fasten the 2 inch flange the 2x2 block. Woodturners often fasten a block of wood to base of a turning by glueing it with a sheet of newspaper in between the two pieces of wood. The newspaper allows it to be separated easily after the turning is finished. If the bottom of the small carving allows, you could pre-drill a hole in the center, then fasten it to the piece of plywood with a screw. I would recommend a "sacrificial" block of wood to fasten the carving to, and then something like a 1 x 6 x 6 piece fastened to the vise flange. This larger piece lets you confidently work the bottom of the carving with mallet and gouge and not have to worry about the gouge hitting the steel of the vise. If you look at #3 above, Ed has such a piece of wood between the vise and the carving.

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                  • #10
                    Great suggestions! Have not considered a vise until now. Thanks for info.


                    • #11
                      Getting back to the subject of gouge suggestions, I have arrived at a preference for fishtail gouges. I tend to use gouges I can push through the wood with hand pressure: 7 to 16mm widths.You can do some intricate carving with the corners. This also illustrates the point that you don't use all of a gouge's cutting edge with each cut. You may be using less than a quarter of the edge. Many gouges are curved not because you use them to make concave surfaces, but because you want to keep the sides of the gouge out of the cut. The addition of gouges to your tool set will probably lead you away from hand-held, knife based carving - caricatures, flat plane figures, etc. - but that may be good!
                      Senior Member - Ventura
                      Last edited by pallin; 07-02-2020, 08:59 PM.


                      • #12
                        Good suggestions.