What do "sweep" numbers mean?

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Forum topic by bluplanet posted 02-24-2011 09:19 AM 3268 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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37 posts in 2896 days

02-24-2011 09:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sweep adze gouge travisher

I was looking at a charmaker’s adze that was advertised as having a #5 sweep on ebay.
I saw a bunch of irons here for making your own travisher with various sweep numbers.
I also saw gouges with sweep numbers.
Clearly, the lower the number, the larger the radius. But a No. 5 sweep on a travisher iron seemed to have a much larger radius than a No. 5 sweep on a gouge.
Is there a standard radius for these numbers or is it just a manufacturer’s personal designation?

4 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 09:56 AM

It’s an old system. What the numbers mean in terms of tool geometry varies from maker to maker.

View bluplanet's profile


37 posts in 2896 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 10:28 AM

Thanks, Loren
I was coming to that conclusion, but needed confirmation.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4453 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 03:45 PM

I found this bit of info on the web:

The blades of gouges range from flat to a deep U-curve. The angle of this curve is called a sweep. Gouges are classified numbers that indicate both the angle of the sweep and the width of the blade. Sweep angles are numbered between one for a flat blade and 11 for a U-shaped blade. The width of the blade is measured in millimeters. For example, a gouge marked 3/15 has a number three sweep and is 15 mm wide.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mpounders's profile


907 posts in 3129 days

#4 posted 02-24-2011 05:21 PM

Here is a handy link to a chart used by Pfeil show the different sweeps and sizes for their carving gouges…maybe it will be of some use?

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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