Gouges that I Own

In Part 7 of the HB Hobby Tansu I used a gouge to cut-in the radius corners of the inset handles.  A couple of people asked about gouges and which ones I use.  I own a grand total of two full-size carving gouges and they are the only ones I’ve ever used.  So this is by no means any type of comparative review on gouges, just my impressions with what I have.

Both of these are made by Pfeil.  A swiss company known for their carving tools and quality steel.  The smaller of the two gouges I have owned for several years.  It’s an 18mm #7 sweep and it has proved quite useful over the years.  The larger is a 35mm #7 sweep that I purchased fairly recently.  It was acquired specifically for hollowing the seat on Paul Sellers’ bench stool project presented in Masterclasses.

gouge- 1

These are out-cannal gouges, the bevel is on the backside of the tool.

gouge- 5

gouge- 2

This makes them true carving gouges as well as easy to sharpen.  It takes a little practice but the bevel can be sharpened and stropped with the same setup that you use for chisels and plane irons.  The only additional requirement is a scrap of wood with its edge rounded over.  Add a little buffing compound and strop the inner radius of the gouge.  There is well done sharpening video over on Woodworking Masterclasses.  It’s free to watch but you will need to become a registered member.

gouge- 4

The photo below shows the max depth of cut and the resulting trough.

gouge- 3

Like I said, these are the only gouges that I have ever used, but I’ve sharpened a fair bit of steel.  The steel in these tools is very good.  It’s easy to sharpen and holds an edge well.  Would I buy these again?  Yep, I have no complaints.  For what I do most of the smaller gouge sees much more action.  But having the larger one has proved to be handy as well.

Not a wealth of information, I know.  But it’s what I can offer and hope that it helps in some way.

Greg Merritt

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13 Responses to Gouges that I Own

  1. Maurice Villari says:

    Thank you Greg.
    Good tools are expensive, in fact those two gouges you show are worth $100 in Australia, so it is reassuring to hear about other people’s experiences.

  2. momist says:

    Maurice Villari, Good tools ARE expensive, yes. Do you have a good ‘used’ market in Australia, like we have here in England? Good quality 50 – 100 year old gouges are available on fleabay for very little money – relative to new Swiss ones. I would always suggest to any worker of wood that old tools are the way to go, provided always that they are old enough to exclude modern trash from China.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Used is a fantastic option if the price is right. Here in the US the price of used is getting, sometimes exceeding, the price of new. Waiting for sales is another option as well. The large gouge above was purchased at 35% off, for example.

  3. Matt Rae says:

    Good timing – I was just about to buy a gouge

  4. Alex A. says:

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  5. BrianJ says:

    I have same 7/35 as per the masterclasses and use them for spoon making mainly. Once and while i run into difficulty with getting a good edge that i am happy with but thats my issue. I currently use a thin piece of leather so maybe i will try going on wood only with compound.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Brian, just a piece of leather or is it mounted on wood? If it’s just leather, try wrapping it around a dowel or some such. See Bill’s comment below too. The wood version works for me. I do use quite a bit of pressure when stropping with it though.

  6. billlattpa says:

    I love the Pfiel carving chisels. I don’t have any gouges of theirs, but I have two grooving chisels and both are excellent tools. As far as sharpening, I use a dowel wrapped in sand paper, and then a piece of charged leather. It seems to work just fine.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      The rounded profile can be intimidating, I know it was for me, and holds folks back from adding them to their tool kit. In reality, the rounded profile isn’t very difficult to sharpen. Nor does it require any special stones.
      Also, thanks for adding another sharpening option here.

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