Woodturning is a fun and fulfilling way to encourage creativity as well as a great hobby that will soothe and sharpen the mind. The journey from block of wood to spindle is fun but it involves precision and patience. It also requires high quality tools that will make the process enjoyable and the end product a sight to behold. So if you’re looking for a gouge kit that will elevate your next project or you’re wondering where to find the best roughing gouges in 2023, we’ve got you covered. We’ve reviewed the best of the best that the internet has to offer and we’re providing all the information you need to make the best choice for your workshop. Let’s dive in!
This is a great set for beginner and advanced woodturners alike. It has a variety of high quality gouges made from alloy chromium vanadium steel, guaranteed to hold and edge and stave off rust.
Schaaf has garnered a great reputation for producing great quality tools that are only rivalled by high end expensive competitors. Like most tools, these will need to be sharpened to your liking before use so if you’re just starting out make sure to do your research before tackling the task.
The handles are comfortable to hold and the canvas tool holder adds a nice touch. This set is truly a revelation for the price. Affordable without compromising on quality and comfort, it will surprise long time woodturners and make life easier for those who are just starting out.
Made from High Speed Steel, this affordable standalone roughing gouge will surprise you with its out of the box sharpness. After some brief finishing touches you’ll be ready to put it to work immediately. The build is sturdy enough to give you confidence with a larger blank but surprisingly effective even on more delicate pen blanks.
The edge will hold well for its price point and the ash handle is long enough for comfortable turning. This roughing gouge is great for beginners as it’s good quality and won’t require too much effort to sharpen. It’s a great starter to discover what bevel angle works for your preferred project and type of wood without worrying about wasting money or damaging something more expensive.
A great beginner 8 tool set that will get you started on any type of turning project whether it’s a bowl, a spindle or a pen. This an affordable set that won’t give you any unpleasant surprises. The tools are firmly set in their handles and they’re good to cut with out of the box. The better you treat them, the more you’ll get out of them!
Delivered in a convenient wooden box, this set will allow you to discover what tools you’ll gravitate to, what kind of projects you like, what type of wood you prefer to work with, and all without a significant investment.
However, the affordability does come at a price. You’ll need to sharpen this set more often than any of its expensive alternatives but you’ll get some practice with a flat stone and you won’t need to purchase any other chisels or gouges for a while.
A forgiving set that will allow you to try your hand at sharpening, mess up blanks and navigate your way around catches. These eight tools are an affordable introduction to woodturning and learning to care for them properly will ensure that you get a lot of bang for your buck.
The edge holds fairly well but you’ll have to sharpen them a couple of times during a project. We recommend this tool set for those who are just starting out and are looking for a roughing gouge to experiment with as they find their feet and figure out their way around a spindle. They’ll help achieve this goal without hurting your pocket and you can afford to abuse them without damaging the core functionality.
An 8 piece M2 tungsten-molybdenum HSS set that includes a ¾” roughing gouge to satisfy any level of skill. Robert Sorby lives up to the brand reputation with a beautiful set that looks great on and performs even better.
The steel is well-balanced and wear resistant and it will be a dream to sharpen. You won’t have to slave over the flat stone or make too many round trips while turning as this bevel will hold on to its edge for dear life. The handles are long, ornate and provide excellent control while turning.
If you’re a beginner you’ll find that these tools work great even out of the box but we advise that you give them an extra edge to fully experience the seamless cut that high grade chisels have to offer.
Beautifully built, with a reliable hard wood handle long enough for a smooth initial cut, this roughing gouge comes pre-sharpened and ready to turn. It feels heavy duty and cuts hard and fast leaving you reassured that it will hold its own even against harder wood or more stubborn blanks.
With an 11.8 inch handle and a 6.7 inch high speed steel blade, treat it well and you’ll have this tool for years and years to come. It has a great balance and a sturdy fit and the dark wood handle makes a beautiful addition to any collection. Great for beginner and advanced turners alike, it will handle anything you throw at it and become a favorite in no time.
This beautiful Imotechom set will rough out blanks for years to come, with style and razor sharp edge. They come in a good looking quality wooden box, already sharpened, looking great for bragging to friends or jumping into your next spindle project.
The blades are 6.7 inches and 5.1 inches respectively and they’re versatile enough that you’re unlikely to need any other roughing gouges for the foreseeable future. After all, as woodturners we see quality as durability, and these gouges deliver!
From well made handles to good HSS steel, this kit is worth the money. If you’re a beginner, make sure you research appropriate sharpening to protect the bevel in the long run
Roughing gouges or, more precisely, spindle roughing gouges are the first tool you will be using on a spindle project. This tool is used to turn the edges of a square piece of wood to give it the initial round shape. It comes in different sizes, lengths, and thicknesses, each suited to different types of projects and/or wood.
It’s important to remember that you should never use a roughing gouge to turn a bowl blank. Bowls should be roughed out with bowl gauges which, unlike roughing gouges, have thick tangs. The thinner tang of the roughing gouge can break if used on cross-grain wood and cause injury. What’s more, the tool itself has a geometry that is unsuitable for bowl turning. The bevel angle, flute shape, and tool size are likely to cause catches when applied to cross grain.
The roughing gouge often gets confused with the spindle gouge which is used for finer shaping and detail work. It’s especially easy to mix them up if you’re buying them as part of a kit. Just remember that the spindle roughing gouge has a more pronounced flute and thicker steel on the side. (image)
But how do you choose the best roughing gouge?
When you’re doing research on what tool you should start your woodturning journey with or what gouge to add to your existing collection keep the following aspects in mind.
When it comes to woodturning, the little things matter. When we buy tools, we’re ideally looking for gouges and chisels that we can use for years to come. Many people still have their first tool kits. As such, it’s important to select a brand with a good reputation, that uses quality material and understands consumers’ expectations and needs.
Another significant aspect to consider when choosing our tools is steel. The two top contenders in this category are High-Speed Steel or HSS and Powdered Steel or PS. Both increase the chances that your tools will be high quality and will hold an edge but powdered steel tends to be on the more expensive side so, if you’re a beginner, you are better off starting with HSS tools.
Of course, everyone will consider their budget when it comes to any purchase. The variety of tool quality from the steel to the handle can make roughing gouges, as well as other woodturning chisels, vary widely in terms of price.
We recommend you take your experience level into consideration before making a decision. If you’re an absolute beginner, get a good quality budget set to explore to start finding your way around a level. If you’ve turned a few spindles or you feel you have sufficient theoretical knowledge maybe consider investing in a good quality roughing gouge that can last you a good while.
Before you start putting your roughing gouge to work there are a few essential points that you should keep in mind.
The most beginner-friendly way to understand how to use a roughing gouge and make your first cut into a block of wood is the ABC technique. ABC stands for Anchor – Bevel – Cut and it works like this.
First, Anchor your gouge on the tool rest. This simply means to make sure that your tool is firmly rested on the tool rest. Without this support, your tool can go flying through the shop as it hits wood which is, needless to say, quite dangerous. Adjust the height of the tool rest so that it’s approximately lined up to the middle of the block of wood.
Second, move the Bevel against the piece of wood. Do this by angling the tool without removing it from the tool rest. It’s important to maintain the tool supported throughout the entire cutting process. This will take a couple of tries to get right but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
And then, Cut! Keep the bevel on the wood and use back and forth motions to smooth it out.
This video from LearnToTurn will teach you these tips and more to get started with a roughing gouge:
As we’ve mentioned, although they’re colloquially referred to as roughing gouges these tools are actually spindle roughing gouges. That means that they should only be used to rough out the initial blank of a spindle project. You should never use a roughing gouge on a bowl blank or on cross-grain wood.
Additionally, never start any project without wearing the appropriate safety equipment. Although woodturning is a fun hobby, it should always be approached cautiously as improper safety precautions can result in injury.
A: A roughing gouge is used to turn a square piece of wood, also known as a blank, into a cylinder. It’s the first tool you will use on a spindle project to give it its initial shape.
A: Roughing gouges are used to rough out the edges of spindle projects while bowl gouges are used to make the first cuts in a bowl project. Structurally, the flute of the bowl gouge goes directly into the handle while the flute roughing gouge is connected to the handle by a thin tang which makes it unsuitable for bowl projects.
A: The two most popular sizes for a roughing gouge are the ¾” and the 1”. Between these two, you should be able to turn any spindle project you can imagine. However, if you’re just starting out, you won’t need both. The ¾” is versatile enough and will work on most projects.
A: The bevel of a roughing gouge should be angled anywhere between 40-55 degrees. This also corresponds to the factory default of most manufacturers. The exact angle will depend on the preference, project and type of wood.
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