Best Bowl Gouge Fort The Money: Reviews 2020 (Recommended!)

Woodworking has become a popular hobby in today's world for anybody who likes to express themselves in a creative way. Although it requires a lot of time and dedication, the joy of looking at your own beautiful handiwork is beyond measure.

There are many categories of woodworking out there, including and not limited to joinery, woodcarving, carpentry, woodturning, etc. If you are into woodturning, the most important tool you need is a bowl gouge.

Bowl turning is expensive to start. However, you don’t need too many costly items in the beginning. Just start minimally by getting the best bowl gouge there is and you’re good to go.

Top 10 Best Bowl Gouge Reviews in 2020

Whether it be for your living or just a hobby, you’ll always need a turning tool specifically tailored to your needs. Since we’re talking about bowl gouge here, we’ve made reviews of the best bowl turning gouges in this article. Have a look.

1. Woodstock D3804 Bowl Gouge

The first bowl gouge on our list comes from Woodstock. This one is simple in looks, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. You can use this gouge for almost all types of bowls—a pretty great start for a beginner, in our opinion.

The bar comes in ½ inch in diameter with a standard 45° angle. The flute is U-shaped and pretty deep, although some might mistake it for a V-shaped one. It has the perfect cut to make your woodturning easy like a piece of cake.

Woodstock D3804 gouge comes with a standard grind, but you can turn it into a fingernail grind yourself. The steel gets sharpened very easily. Since it has a greater length, we recommend that beginners enlist this one as their first woodturning tool. They won’t regret it for sure.

If you are turning deep bowls, this item is the best bowl gouge for the money. It also comes with a strong and long-lasting wood handle for extra comfort.

However, you’ll need to sharpen the product before using it for the first time. We mentioned it because some new buyers might think that the factory edge is adequate. But this really isn’t a big deal for turners as they need to sharpen their tools all the time anyway.

All in all, with a comfortable handle, good steel, and great flute depth, this best bowl gouge for beginners is a sturdy tool and a fantastic purchase for anyone getting into the hobby of woodturning.

Pros

  • Comfortable handle
  • Perfect length
  • Deep U-shaped flute
  • Perfect for beginner use

Cons

  • Needs sharpening before first use

2. Carter & Son Toolworks 1/2" Bowl Gouge

Bowl gouges from Carter and Son Toolworks are a thing of beauty, and the 1/2" Bowl Gouge from this company is no different. It comes with aircraft-grade aluminum, capable of absorbing heavy vibrations.

Along with an excellent fit finish, this item is made from M42 high-speed tool steel, giving you superior wear resistance and edge sharpness. A distinct cobalt additive bumps M42's red hardness off the charts. This ensures an impressive wear resistance as well.

Although a little bit heavy because of the handle, the gouge has unique details designed to refine your bowl turning experience. It has a beautifully polished flute as well as a double bevel and a ready-to-turn razor edge, making it a 5-star 1/2" bowl gouge.

The unmatched polish its flute has will boost the razor edge and will result in efficient chip flow. Unlike the previous gouge, it has a V-shaped flute and 50º fingernail grind.

In our opinion, only the visuals of this best woodturning bowl gouge are enough to make anybody fall in love. Besides, the completely hand polished body speaks of its aesthetics as well.

Pros

  • Amazing visuals
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum handle
  • M42 high-speed tool steel
  • Hand polished body

Cons

  • Little bit heavy

3. Robert Sorby 843H Roughing Gouge

A fundamental part of any spindle turner’s tool kit is the roughing gouges, which are definitely not for producing rough work. If you want to turn the uneven or square spindle to round, this one is recommended for you. Proper use of it is extremely useful as a finishing tool too.

When woodturners want to detail cylinders with the spindle gouges, they use such roughing gouges. Its shape enables the tool to cut safely.

The Robert Sorby 843H is a full-sized gouge with a bar stock of 3/4 inch. Its flute is supplied with a standard bowl grind. You can work well with the supplied grind, but the best result will come from an Irish Grind.

Very solidly made of high-speed steel (HSS), this roughing gouge will decrease the risk of ruining its temper caused by frictional heating. You can easily use this tool for years without any problem whatsoever.

A delight to use straight from the pack, its thick steel, and deep curve will make it run easily in any direction you want with minimal chatter. Turning wood will, from now on, be a thing of joy rather than a chore.

It is not designed for use on bowl grain projects. However, if you want speedy and efficient service, this roughing gouge from Robert Sorby is highly recommended.

Pros

  • Extremely useful finishing tool
  • Provides help with detailing cylinders
  • Solidly made of high-speed steel
  • Made with thick steel and the deep curve

Cons

  • Not designed for bowl grain projects

4. Robert Sorby H9070 Inboard Scraper

A heavy-duty inboard scraper is quite hefty for a bowl finishing job. A craftsman named Richard Raffan first introduced this tool whose shape has since been deemed as the most efficient for making final surfaces on bowls.

The Robert Sorby H9070 scraper is produced using a massive 1-1/2" x 3/8" section. With a 7-inch blade and 14-inch ash handle, it gives a total tool length of 21 inches. This long handle gives you much comfort when you have a large overhang between the work in hand and the tool rest.

The blade is made of High-Speed-Steel, which means it is also capable of reducing vibrations and increasing stability. A delight to hold and stable to use, this heavy-duty inboard scraper has a nice curved tip with elongated side edges. It can, therefore, clean-up irregular and rough cuts left by gouges.

As it’s capable of making very rough cuts with its sharp edge if necessary, you can get a very good finish with this scraper without any pull out, even on a softwood.

The steel has also been properly hardened and tempered to keep a sharpened edge and resist blued softening due to overheating. Also, the sharpened edge has been promised to last 6 times longer than carbon steel too.

Pros

  • Absorbs much vibration
  • Extreme stability
  • Sharpened edge lasts longer
  • Efficient curved shape

Cons

  • Sometimes the edge can be coarsely ground

5. Robert Sorby 67hs turning tool set

Professional woodturners need specific turning tools for their unique woodworks made with intricate details. But the beginners who haven’t yet started the art of woodturning will be confused as to which equipment to get. That is why it is recommended that they purchase a set.

Robert Sorby has a turning toolset of a six-pick piece, which is also described as their flagship toolset. This is true as it is the most popular tool combinations out there in the market and suitable for anyone from novice to professionals.

But at the same time, for all beginners, buying a toolset might not be affordable. This set of six tools is a great choice for them. Manufactured with great care, this set of Robert Sorby's core range is a standard in the market.

It is also the perfect introduction for those who are thinking of making woodturning their new hobby or profession. The tools are also very easy to work with and comfortable to handle.

The various lengths of the set range from 10 inches to 12 inches. These tools include a spindle gouge, a roughing gouge, along with woodturning chisels, and scraping tools. All of these tools and their blades are made from the very best high-speed steel.

We can gladly say that this set will not disappoint you in any way. Their polished flutes and hand-finished handles scream of the quality and attention to detail that the Robert Sorby brand takes pride in.

Pros

  • Comes with a beautifully crafted box
  • Able to perform all range of bowl turning works
  • Handles are comfortable to hold
  • Blades are made of HSS metal

Cons

  • The skew is prone to breakage if not handled with care

6. Crown 242EW Ellsworth Signature Gouge

Crown Bowl Gouges are regarded as being amongst the best gouges available worldwide. If you are opting for finer projects, this signature gouge has whatever it takes to make that happen. It has the edge and balance needed for the best of projects.

Designed with a special hollow fingernail type grind by David Ellsworth, an internationally recognized woodturner, the Ellsworth Signature Gouge allows its user a wide variety of cutting options, making it extremely versatile.

It has a 17-inch tapered handle for added stability and reduced vibrations. As the most versatile 10" bowl gouge in the market, its specific tip shape, and a parabolic flute allow you to make the delicate finish and roughing cuts in both the inside and outside of open bowls.

This Crown 242EW gouge is made from M2 High-Speed-Steel (HSS), also known as Rockwell 62/64. This level of hardness remains sharp for a long time. But its downside is that it’s prone to becoming brittle. Also, steel is often difficult to sharpen.

The gouge also comes with an attractive beech handle and a heavy-duty brass ferrule. Held in high esteem by woodturners over the globe, the Crown Ellsworth Signature Gouge also lasts up to six times longer than average steel products.

Pros

  • Perfect edge and balance for finest projects
  • Provides a wide variety of cutting options
  • Used to make a delicate finish
  • Comes with beautiful beech handle
  • Stays sharp for a long time

Cons

  • Difficult to sharpen

7. Sorby Sovereign Fingernail Bowl Gouge

The fingernail grind gouge offers greater advantages over the standard grind gouge. With a good 842-fingernail bowl gouge, you will have a larger cutting area. This helps remove more amount of wood waste faster.

Also, the large cutting area can be used for heavy profiling cuts as well as for delicate shearing cuts. The Robert Sorby Sharpening System has maintained and sharpened the blade with much precision to be used for fine cutting.

This Sovereign Bowl Gouge is a must tool kit for every bowl turner who wants increased flexibility, allowing them easy pull cuts. This also avoids catching the lathe bed.

With a 45° angle sharp cutting tip made with high-quality HSS steel, this fingernail bowl gouge is a standard tool on its own. However, the product doesn’t come with any handle. So, you have to purchase a handle that goes with the tool.

Apart from using it for pull cuts, you can also use it for heavy profile cuts, scraper cuts, and fine finishing cuts along with other standard work carried out with a bowl gouge.

Pros

  • Provides a larger cutting area
  • Precisely sharpened for precision cuts
  • Increased flexibility for pull cuts
  • Avoids catching lathe bed

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with any handle

8. Simple Woodturning Tools Shear Cutting Finisher

Carbide-tipped woodturning tools have greatly eased the process of woodturning. Nowadays, with these carbide tools, you can easily make beautiful turnings with simple strokes.

Gone are the days when you needed mastery of precise angles and special tool presentation techniques. Now, your project starts to take shape as soon as you begin to move the carbide tool.

The saucer-shaped carbide cutter allows the tool to rotate about its axis easily. As a result, a shearing cut is created, much like a spindle gouge or a conventional bowl. It also leaves a superior surface finish.

This full-size Simple Shear Cutting Finisher gives you the best surface finish on all types of wood. Normal flat-topped carbide cutters sometimes leave a tear-out on softwood. But this cutter from Simple Woodturning Tools cleanly slices the soft fibers of the vessel.

It has an all turning and no sharpening feature. So, if your tool finally gets dull, just loosen the screw and rotate it. You’ll have a sharp tool once again. It won’t be long with this Shear Cutting Finisher that you will be finally experiencing the true joy of woodturning.

Pros

  • No need to sharpen
  • Rotates about its axis easily
  • Leaves a superior surface finish
  • Works on all types of wood

Cons

  • The handle is not that comfortable

9. Carter & Son Toolworks 5/8" Bowl Gouge

This bowl gouge has a traditional U-shaped flute and square end grind. Such style of gouge works best on all unseasoned wood because of its larger cutting edge. Besides, it helps with the wood waste removal and provides superior chip cleaning.

The company prides itself on producing its tools from the highest quality materials, and we have to agree. Made with aircraft-grade aluminum handles complete with a razor-sharp edge, this bowl gouge is unrivaled in its sturdiness.

Its M42 Cobalt HSS blade has been machined to have extra stability and precision. The M42 HSS has natural strength enhancing properties which also maintains its edge extremely well. Besides, its strength is further increased to 68 HRC due to the heat-treatment.

Anybody who is aware of steel types knows that the hardness of any steel is measured by pressing a pointed object on it with force. The measurement of the size of the imprint gives the sturdiness of the steel.

This 68 HRC grade steel of this bowl gouge means it is the most premium steel since generally hardened knives are rated between 58 to 62 HRC only.

In addition, the tool also comes with a well-balanced and ergonomically shaped handle. It also comes factory sharpened, making it ready for use.

Pros

  • Provides rapid wood removal
  • Works best on all unseasoned wood types
  • Extreme edge retention
  • Factory sharpened and ready to use

Cons

  • Not too promising on looks

10. Savannah 2" Roughing Gouge

A roughing gouge is used for spindle or facing material. This Savannah Roughing Gouge is a big sized one, able to remove a large amount of stock from your blank. Besides, it also works great on smaller projects.

You’ll be able to work with large pieces of wood with this 2" flute. Holding it will give you a feel that it’s heavy-duty and well-balanced. The blade is pre-sharpened, and you can start working with it right away. It can cut really well as well as can remove a lot of waste.

Working with large pieces of wood can be a lot of work, but this 2" roughing gouge from Savannah makes it look like child’s play. Exceptionally efficient for large turnings, its high capacity trough means that you don’t have to pause too often to empty it.

Made out of High-Speed Steel (HSS) secured with brass ferrule, this roughing gouge will be your turning companion for a long time.

Pros

  • Removes large chunk of wood
  • Cleans a lot of waste
  • Factory sharpened
  • HSS material with brass ferrule

Cons

  • Cannot cut cross-grain or inside bowls

What to Look for While Buying a Bowl Gouge?

There are many kinds of bowl gouges out there, each producing different outcomes. And you need to have at least a few of them with you if you are pursuing professional woodworking.

Choosing these different bowl gouges depends upon your own choices and unique projects. The tips below will help you get an understanding of a firm starting point.

Size

There is a range of bowl gouge sizes, and the standards are 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″. Smaller bowls with less than 12" of diameter work best with 1/2" gouge.

You can prefer 12" to 14" diameter sized bowls for a 5/8" gouge. And for 14" or larger sized bowls, you need a powerful 3/4" bowl gouge to get the job done.

Beginners should be starting with 1/2″ bowl gouges, which can later be changed as per demand.

One important thing to remember while buying is to check if the size specified by the manufacturer really meets the flute width or the shaft width. Otherwise, you might purchase the size which you didn’t need.

Flute Shape

As for the flute of bowl gouges, they also come in different shapes. Some of them include Deep U-shape, Shorter U-shape, Deep V-shape, and more.

Deep U & deep V-shape flutes are used in traditional bowl gouges, although they aren't as effective as the professional ones. If you want to have an effective woodworking experience with a smooth cut, go for a shorter U-shape flute, also known as super-flute.

Grind Profile

There are three widely used flute shapes and gouge profiles worth the try, although you might have your own preferences.

  • Traditional Grind

They are easier to sharpen without much hassle and nearly straight across. You might also think they look quite similar to spindle gouge. They are popular for finishing the interior bottom of the bowl.

Excelling at handling difficult grains with a smooth finish, these are often referred to as “bottom feeder” as well. You might want to have a U-shaped flute with it.

  • Fingernail Grind

If you can master the fingernail grind, you'll be able to call yourself a true professional at your work, as it is extremely versatile to work with. A slightly more difficult to grind than the traditional one, it can be used for detailing, shear cutting, roughing, etc.

  • Swept Back Grind

The most useful and versatile of all the profiles is this one, as it is excellent for roughing, scraping and finishing, etc. – it can do them all. No wonder it is used by most professional turners. The technique is to grind the long wings first and then finish with the nose.

Material

The different materials used for making bowl gouges include High Carbon Steel, HSS, M2 HSS, and Cryogenic M2 HSS.

High carbon steel was used to make older bowl gouges. Unfortunately, they wore out quickly and so had to be sharpened frequently. The HSS, short for High-Speed Steel, is made from an alloy of Molybdenum, Tungsten, and Chromium. It can withstand very high temperatures and is also durable.

The enhanced variant of high-speed steel is the M2 HSS. But the most eminent of steel gouges is the M2 HSS that lasts longer than anything else and doesn’t require you to sharpen that frequently.

Handle

A great tip for using bowl gouges is to have a handle with it. If your gouge is not of optimum size, you won’t be able to have balance using it. Therefore, you’ll need a suitable sized handle which will play a vital role in your bowl making.

The most common materials for bowl gouge handles are metal and hardwood. Although most prefer hardwood handles, metal ones work fine too.

How to Use a Bowl Gouge?

The most common knowledge for any woodturner is using a bowl gouge. A gouge needs to be sharpened properly before usage. There are usually two methods of sharpening; traditional “square grind” method and the modern “fingernail grind” method.

After sharpening the gouge, you need to know some basic things before starting to actually turn.

Body Motion

The way to properly control and move the gouge is with your smooth, fluid body movement. Although your hands will be holding the gouge, the body will do most of the work.

There are a few bowl gouge techniques, and each of them is different. These techniques depend on the fluid motion of your body, shifting from one side to another.

The most important is to position your feet near the center of each cut. With the lathe running, you have to practice this leaning to make it perfect.

Position of the Eye

When you keep your focus on the bowl gouge tip, the shape will turn out to be different from what you had expected. Without keeping your eye on the top or the bottom, it is easy to lose sight of the shape. Besides, looking at your feet on the pedals will not help out either.

In order to see the bowl shape, watch the overall bowl. The trick of seeing the whole bowl is to watch the top edge of it as you continue the cut. It takes a little practice to keep your concentration there, but with experience and a little bit of time, you’ll notice the bowl taking perfect shape.

Rounding the Blank

The first thing you need to do is get a huge chunk of wood. Fresh green woods are the best choice as they are pretty easy to cut because of dampness.

After mounting the blank, start the lathe at the lowest speed and use the gouge to start rounding it. Deciding on a diameter, keep on rounding till it reaches the size. The blank needs to be consistently rounded and smooth.

Turn the Bowl’s Outside First

To shape the outer side, pull the tip of the gouge along the tool rest. The tool rest needs to be positioned slightly below the center, and the handle of the gouge should be against your waist. Roll the flute 45º counterclockwise and touch the bevel to the bottom side of the blank.

Continue this cut from the base towards the rim. You can also control the curvature by swinging the handle of the gouge. This handle must always stay against your body for support.

Outside Surface Finishing

When the shape is formed, start shear-scraping to finish the outside surface. Shear-scraping is almost the same as pulling cuts that we've just discussed, except the handle is lowered. Here, the bevel doesn't contact the wood, and the process leaves a ready-to-sand finish.

The technique is to lower the handle from the waist to your hip and roll the flute further counterclockwise. Make light cuts removing any ridges by drawing the left-hand wing along the bowl surface.

You’ll know the process is working when you see fine angel-hair shavings. The wood surface will become exceptionally smooth at this point.

Hollowing the Bowl

After you're done with the outside, remount the bowl's bottom to the lathe and adjust the height of the tool rest slightly below the center. This time roll the flute 45º clockwise.

Turning the lathe, begin cutting, keeping the handle lower than the tip of your bowl gouge. Raise the handle to begin cutting until it is parallel with the lathe bed.

Apply forward pressure with your right hand and swing the handle towards your body. This time it is a pushing cut. Continue this swinging until the bevel is parallel with the bottom of the bowl.

Continue with this cutting from the rim towards the center until you have your desired depth and width. Make sure to make gradual cuts and focus on maintaining the shape of both inner and outer sides.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many tools do I need to turn a bowl?

If you want to take woodturning seriously, there are a few tools that you'll need to have. Some of those include lathe, chisels, bowl gouges, sharpening jig, screwdriver, etc.

2. What size gouge should I buy first?

If you are a newbie, then starting with 1/2″ bowl gouges is the best option. Once you get used to it, you can buy bigger ones.

3. How to sharpen my bowl gouge?

Using a slow-speed bench grinder works best to sharpen bowl gouges. Sharpening jig helps out a lot if you want better results.

Like the other woodturning tools, you should use a slow-speed or variable-speed bench grinder to sharpen your bowl gouges. If you want more efficiency, you should use a sharpening jig.

4. What is the difference between a bowl gouge and a spindle gouge?

The flute of a bowl gouge is curved and used to turn wood bowls only. On the other hand, the spindle gouge flute is flatter and used for details and turning spindles. Read more here in the  Bowl gouge vs Spindle gouge aritcle.

5. What are the best woods for turning bowls?

The best and the most commonly preferred wood types are figured maple, walnut, cherry, rosewood, red elm, life oak root, etc.

Final Words

Purchasing the best bowl gouge is no easy matter if you’re a newbie. That is why we hope this article has been a great buying guide for you to pick the perfect one for your needs.

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