Gouges, what size and sweep?

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Forum topic by BerBer5985 posted 01-09-2012 05:37 PM 3097 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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445 posts in 2442 days

01-09-2012 05:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: gouge lee valley spokeshave scraper

I saw Paul Sellers at the baltimore show and he is an inspiration. I love watching him work, so much so that I purchased his DVD set and book, which has been good so far from what I’ve seen on it. I’d like to start making some of the projects he’s doing in regards to shaping wood. I don’t have any gouges, spokeshaves, or scrapers. I have pretty much decided I’m going to invest in the Lee Valley set of scrapers and spokeshaves (The spokeshaves would have really helped in some prior projects instead of the rough cheap rasps that I have.) I’m still stuck on Gouges. I don’t think I need a huge set, but Paul Sellers doesn’t really talk about what size or sweep to use. I was thinking 1 or 2 good ones to get me started by maybe Henry Taylor or Pfeil, but I’m not sure. The only thing it states in his book is usually wider is better, so maybe 3/4” to 1” with a middle of the road sweep? Any recommendations?

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

4 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3735 days

#1 posted 01-25-2012 07:05 AM

What kind of projects will you be working on?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2944 days

#2 posted 01-25-2012 06:25 PM

I find that the gouge I use the most is a #2 3/4” wide. Very slight sweep to it.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View DS's profile


2924 posts in 2443 days

#3 posted 01-25-2012 06:44 PM

A lot depends on the type of carving you will be doing.

If you’re doing a lot of small details, a wide gouge will be practically useless. I find a real tight veiner is great for detail work, but for smooth rolling curves, (like the face of a violin, for example), the #2 is practical in both small and wide versions. If you’re doing leaves, or floral carving, a medium sweep makes short work for those shapes. (wider gouges are proportionally more expensive too, so that is also a consideration)

I tend to add to my collection based specifically on the needs of an upcoming project. The Pfiel gouges are available individually, so, I might add one or two new ones per year depending on what I’m working on.

Now that I have a dozen or so of them, I find I can pretty much do what I need without running out to purchase something new everytime.
Still, if I change my carving “genre”, for lack of a better word, I will most likely need different gouges.
I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, I suppose.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3325 days

#4 posted 01-25-2012 07:53 PM

If gouges are for items Sellers makes I’d say. First, a 4pc set of bench chisels and a post mortem scalpel with handle..
If you are doing decorative marquetry and inlay. Large format chisel: Like 2 Cherries, Henry Taylor or Dastra in 1/1/4 to 2 1/2 inch #1 profile or #3 so the corners dont catch. (There are different numbering systems-European a #2 gouge has skew profile) I like those too.

Second, for mortises and dovetails I use the skews in shorter size and a full set of mortising chisels.

Third, for beginning woodcarving: detail bench knife, one shallow gouge 4mm-6mm in #3 or4. Small skew-1/8 to 3/8.

Get with someone that can teach you to sharpen whatever you buy. Once sharp-a strop with green abrasive, fine ceramic multi profile stone 1000-1200. And a combo wet stone 1000-4000. If you break off an edge, and need to regrind an edge go back to your teacher-personal experience.

Finally, noticed you beautiful bench is sitting on a heavy foot mat. Think of it as a shoulder pad on your shot gun. It absorbs energy you could use in the cut or save your energy til later. Reduces fatigue keep the mats where you stand the most.

Old Viking Boatbuilder saying—-Sharp Fixes Everything Good Luck

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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