I’ve been getting into carving in recent months, as you can see from my recent posts on spoon and guitar pick making, so I asked my wife for a few extra tools for my birthday to help me with my future projects.
First up on my wish list was a gouge for roughing out a bowl shape, and one for cleaning up the insides of spoon bowls. I have a few smaller gouges already but nothing that would take the abuse of turning a chunk of hardwood into something resembling a bowl, and no specialised gouges at all.
I did my research and basically it came down to either a few cheap gouges so I could see if I liked them or one expensive Pfeil one. I wasn’t convinced I’d use them enough to justify $70 on a single tool and I’d had a really great experience with a faithful brand skew chisel, which is much better that it’s price would indicate so that along with a recommendation from another blog set me in that direction.
My lovely wife ended up suprising me with three gouges. A 1″ straight, a 1/4″ spoon bent and a 1/4 Bowl gouge.
For the price, which is about $14 each, these are pretty well made. The handles are walnut, turned consistently and finished quite well, though there’s a little runoff into the grooves and they could do with the finish being rubbed out to be really good.
The steel ferrule isn’t overly heavy duty but it’s no worse than that on some vintage gouges. It looks like brass here but it isn’t.
The actual blade, which is the part that matters, is actually really good. I know from the skew chisel that it holds an edge well, and these three seem no different. The tool shape is good and it’s like someone who actually carves may have been involved in the design rather than them just working off a picture.
Being a cheap tool there’s no effort to polish the machine marks off the steel, even on the bevel, but it wasn’t much work to do so myself. The factory edge wasn’t great but again, it wasn’t hard to get it the way I wanted it. It’s a little too steep for my liking but works.
I’ve had them since August and held off on writing about them until now to make sure first impressions were correct and they were.
I’ve only been touching up the edge with a strop even after quite a lot of use. So far what I’m finding is that they are comfortable to use, hold an edge well and the handles will stand up to being hit with a carving mallet without issue – even though my carving mallet happens to be made of spotted gum. I’d happily buy more of these if needed.