Woodturner's Gouges

A gouge is a chisel with a curved section and cutting edge. Woodturning gouges have the bevel ground on the outside only. They come in various styles and sizes. A general purpose set of woodturning gouges would include . . . .


Let us start with the roughing gouge. This is a large gouge with a shallow curvature and is used for initial cutting and shaping of wood held between centres including removing the corners from square stock.
spindle roughing gougeusing a spindle roughing gouge Say you are turning a chair rail from a length of 2 inch square section wood held between centres. In a matter of seconds you can remove the corners and take the material down to the basic flowing shape. On the shallow curves you could obtain a very good finish by taking a fine finishing "shearing cut".

Do not try using a spindle roughing gouge for bowls. The large cutting forces would probably break the tool

Next you would want to cut some details in - some fancy beads and hollows known as mouldings. The roughing gouge is too big and clumsy for this so you use your spindle gouge.

spindle gougeusing a spindle gouge

Spindle gouges have a pointed tip so they can cut into narrow details. The pointed shape is called a "fingernail profile".

Bowl gouges

bowl gougeBowl turning gouges are longer and stronger than spindle gouges and have a deeper flute section. They can shape the outside of a bowl and hollow the inside.

hollowing with a bowl gougeshowing pointed and straight across grinds on bowl gouges

Bowl gouges can be ground in many different styles. They used to come ground straight across but more and more woodturners are using them with a pointed fingernail shape similar to the spindle gouge. The grind that works for you is the correct one