How can I tell if a gouge is for carving or turning?

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Forum topic by CFrye posted 02-24-2015 08:26 PM 2629 views 0 times favorited 60 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10067 posts in 1770 days

02-24-2015 08:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: gouge carving lathe tool

Not able to find out, via multiple on-line searches if my new-to-me 1 3/4” gouge is for carving(would be OK) or turning(what I bought it for). Does it even matter? It was re handled by previous owner.
(Modeled by hubby)

Thanks, in advance, for your help. :-)

-- God bless, Candy

60 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17246 posts in 2937 days

#1 posted 02-24-2015 08:30 PM

Id certainly think a tool that large would be for turning. The gouges (2 of em) that I use for carving are chisel sized. You’ll love that butcher steel, its some of my favorite out there.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View ksSlim's profile


1272 posts in 2820 days

#2 posted 02-24-2015 08:34 PM

All of my carving gouges are of thinner material than the lathe tools.
I notice that the gouge is apparently ground “out channel” (backside of the arc).
If the material is thick enough it could see some lathe time, but consider where it will ride the tool rest.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10047 posts in 3983 days

#3 posted 02-24-2015 08:35 PM

Yes… Turning tools seem to always have longer handles… while Carving tools tend to be much shorter & designed to be use with a mallet.

How the curvature, etc. of the Cutting ends compare, I don’t know.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Rick Bailey's profile

Rick Bailey

247 posts in 1293 days

#4 posted 02-24-2015 08:35 PM

Looks like a spindle roughing gouge to me.

-- I'll bulid your dream,you tear it down.

View Rick Bailey's profile

Rick Bailey

247 posts in 1293 days

#5 posted 02-24-2015 08:39 PM

View CFrye's profile (online now)


10067 posts in 1770 days

#6 posted 02-24-2015 08:44 PM

The previous owner rehandled the tool, is why I questioned it. Not saying he did it wrong or tried to pull one over on me…I just did not want to do anything unsafe.
Any hints on sharpening would also be appreciated. It’s in dire need! I have a slow speed wet grinder as well as a bench grinder, no jigs, yet.

-- God bless, Candy

View ColonelTravis's profile


1746 posts in 1824 days

#7 posted 02-24-2015 08:49 PM

After I got my crappy lathe I was surprised to see how many turning tools looked like the size of baseball bats. For my gouges I got the Wolverine jig, which works great. It was so frustrating trying to sharpen them without it. I could do it but they didn’t come out as great as with the jig. I know plenty of people have built a jig because the Wolverine ain’t cheap.

View Woodknack's profile


11293 posts in 2311 days

#8 posted 02-24-2015 09:18 PM

Early 19th century. Could also be a timber framing gouge.

edit; after looking at it again and reading a little about the Butcher Bros., I suspect it is a wood carving gouge. You should ask the wood carving guys what they think.

-- Rick M,

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8128 posts in 2507 days

#9 posted 02-24-2015 09:29 PM

Good score Cindy! What does the cutting edge look like?

View doubleDD's profile (online now)


7214 posts in 1974 days

#10 posted 02-24-2015 09:34 PM

More than likely a roughing gouge. The previous owner put on a larger handle to get better control when roughing. Those out of balanced logs are tough with a small handle.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Grumpymike's profile


2221 posts in 2246 days

#11 posted 02-24-2015 09:46 PM

Yep I agree with the spindle roughing gouge group … Handles that long tell you that it is a lathe tool … should have a 40 to 45 degree grind, (I set mine at 42-1/2 degrees as that is optimum between 40 and 45)
Good find on that tool.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4875 posts in 3891 days

#12 posted 02-24-2015 10:22 PM

I am an avid Butcher collector. You will find the steel to be of very high quality.
I have one that is very similar, but with a much shorter handle. Kinda looks as if the tool would do multiple jobs depending on the handle.
Wanna sell it?


View bondogaposis's profile


4632 posts in 2282 days

#13 posted 02-24-2015 10:28 PM

Looks like a roughing gouge for turning to me.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LeeMills's profile


512 posts in 1232 days

#14 posted 02-24-2015 10:41 PM

JMHO but it may be a spindle gouge. I suspect a carving gouge with the handle changed.
Beware of the very small/weak tang and do not use for bowls at all. IF a spindle gouge it is probably a “continental gouge” common in Europe. The largest continental I could find was a Sorby at 35mm and an Ashley Iles at 1-1/4 so the one you have would be very large indeed.
Packard does carry some continental gouges but not in that large.
or the Sorby

The amount of tang exposed makes me think it is for carving as this would be a long weak point for turning.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View jdh122's profile


991 posts in 2748 days

#15 posted 02-24-2015 10:51 PM

Carving gouges all have a shoulder on the tang. This is what allows you to hit them with a mallet without driving the handle further onto the tang with each wack. If you hit that gouge with a mallet it would eventually split the handle. This means that, while carving gouges can be used on the lathe, you generally should not use lathe tools to carve with.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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