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Spindle Gouges

Spindle Gouges The 'traditional' turner's tool, the spindle gouge is the workhorse of all but the dedicated bowl turner -and even most of those generally have one or two in their tool bags.  Obviously, for spindle turning, such as chair legs, balusters and the like, the spindle gouge is the tool of choice.  But as any experienced turner will tell you, they also find ready use for facing cuts, shallow hollowing, drilling,  beading etc. and with a little judicious regrinding can also make very effective hollowing tools for box-making (see the Ray Key designs, below).

Spindle gouges generally have shallower flutes than bowl gouges and are consequently, size for size, not as rigid as bowl gouges, reflecting the lower loads that they have imposed upon them.  This shallow fluting allows good shaving clearance whilst the fingernail profile to which these tools are normally ground ensures that the wings are well back from the workpiece, allowing maximum manoeuvrability in use.  Traditional gouges were forged from flat stock but most current designs are machined from bar stock which leads to a more rigid tool and allows small size versions to be produced for use in tight curves.

Also worthy of note when spindle turning is the Spindlemaster shown on the skews page.

In addition to the standard M2 tools shown on this page, we have also included the KRYO range tools from Henry Taylor.  The Kryo treatment is an advanced cryogenic technique that changes the structure of the whole of the tool blade.  Put simply, a blade is subjected to a complex immersion procedure at very low temperatures (down to minus 195 degrees Celsius - just 78 degreees above the absolute zero of temperature!) to produce an ultra fine, harder, martensitic structure, supported by fine carbides.  This results in a blade which shows excellent wear resistance, capable of retaining its cutting edge longer by at least a factor of 2 to 3 compared to standard M2 steel with conventional heat treatment.

Indeed, blades treated this way perform very favourably compared with more exotic materials such as 2060 and other ASP/Powder Metallurgy high speed steels and unlike hard surface coated tools (such as those with titanium nitride coatings) the performance is maintained throughout the life of the tool and can never get worn away.  Kryo treatment improves the strength, hardness and wear resistance characteristics throughout the tool.

The tools can be recognised by their distinctive gold coloured flume on the blade and the Kryo logo label on the handle.  The real test is to try one - then you will know you have a tool of exceptional performance.

Click for photo
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Spindle Gouges - (Machined*): Click for photo These are gouges machined from bar stock and used for most types of spindle work.  Note that the Robert Sorby models '841' are "Long & Strong" pattern gouges with a 9" (225mm) blade length in lieu of the equivalent Sorby standard pattern's 6.25" (155mm).  The beautifully profiled Henry Taylor spindle gouges feature 8" (200mm) blades.

Sorby Spindle Gouge incuding HS5, 840H14, HS6, 840H38, 841H38, HS7, 840H12, 841H12, 840H34, HS152, KHS5, KHS6, KHS7

*

Robert Sorby standard gouges.

Sorby L & S Gouge including HS5, 840H14, HS6, 840H38, 841H38, HS7, 840H12, 841H12, 840H34, HS152, KHS5, KHS6, KHS7

Robert Sorby Long & Strong (L&S) gouges

Taylor Spindle Gouge which may include all or part of HS5, 840H14, HS6, 840H38, 841H38, HS7, 840H12, 841H12, 840H34, HS152, KHS5, KHS6, KHS7

Henry Taylor forged gouges

NB: Sorby gouge marked (*), part number 840H - 3/4", is of forged construction, not machined from bar stock.  (See left hand, lower illustration, above)

 
Henry Taylor Kryo (cryogenic) spindle gouges HS5, 840H14, HS6, 840H38, 841H38, HS7, 840H12, 841H12, 840H34, HS152, KHS5, KHS6, KHS7
 

*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling. 
§Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Taylor Traditional Gouge includes HS53, HS54, HS41, HS57, HS42Spindle Gouges - Traditional Forged Pattern:  Many turners still prefer the traditional form of spindle gouge which was forged from steel plate.  By using High Speed Steel, Henry Taylor have updated this tool whilst still retaining the shallow flute shape which characterises the traditional design.

 

Sorby Continental Gouge including 839H8, HS86, 839H12, HS87, 839H19, HS88, 839H25, 839H30, 839H35Continental Pattern Gouges: Click for photo It is interesting to observe how in different cultures, different solutions have been adopted to similar situations.  This is seen in these continental pattern spindle gouges which, whilst superficially similar to UK forged gouges are in fact quite different in detail.  This pattern of gouge is forged but with a constant material thickness throughout the cross-section, resulting in great finesse in handling yet retaining high rigidity. 

Many consider this style of gouge ideal for 'traditional' spindle work such as balusters, stair spindles and chair legs.

 

*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling. 
§Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Fingernail Pattern Gouges: Click for photo of fingernail spindle gouges 840FH38, 840FH12, HS138, KHS138 There's probably hardly a modern turner who doesn't re-grind their spindle gouges into a fingernail shape.  (Perhaps better visualised as a lady's fingernail shape).  Yet until not so long ago, every spindle gouge produced featured the traditional 'straight across' grind.  Robert Sorby took pity on the poor inexperienced turner trying to create this grind - which isn't exactly easy the first time - and  introduced two ready-ground fingernail pattern gouges.  If you have never created this shape yourself and want a little guidance, then starting with one of these examples will set you on the right road.  Remember, the key to the fingernail grind is 'swing and roll' compared with the standard grind for which the action is simply 'roll'.  These are mild examples of this particularly useful grind so it won't be like going back to first grade school to learn to turn again.  Try it, you'll like it!Henry Taylor Kryo, cryo, cryogenic spindle gouges

The Taylor HS138/KHS138 versions are rather more radical in their grind and better represent how most experienced turners end up grinding their gouges.  Note that there is a cryogenically "heat"-treated version of this tool for better edge-holding (KHS138).

 

Henry Taylor coving tool type: HS139 Coving Tool: Click for photo This apparently simple tool makes the forming of coves a much simpler task than many have found it to be hitherto.  Speed and consistency are the benefits claimed for this novel approach to one of the spindle turner's standard tasks.  The shearing cut produces a smooth surface and the flat bevel is child's play to sharpen.  Whilst basically a 3/8" tool, it can be used to form coves of a wide range of sizes.

 

*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling. 
§Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Ray Key Gouges: Click for photo of Ray Key gouges styles HS105, HS106 When a master such as Ray Key gives his name to a tool, then you can be sure that it has that element of magic in it!  In this case, it is that these spindle gouges are primarily used in faceplate turning situations!  These gouges are ground back to give a long cutting edge on the right hand side (looking along from the handle to the blade) which can be used in hollowing end grain as in box making or for planing the outside of bowls and hollow forms to give a high quality surface finish straight off the tool.  They can also be used for truing up the outside of cylindrical work in lieu of a skew, especially when using difficult hardwoods where you may encounter 'curse-grain' as my father so tellingly called it.  Now you know what they're for, you'll understand the quandary that justifies their appearance on both this page and the bowl gouges page.  It certainly indicates how versatile these gouges are in the right hands.

 

*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling. 
§Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

Review Current Basket Contents 

Remember, if you need any further advice, e-mail or call and we'll happily answer your queries and give our tool choice recommendations.  Now if you're getting into spindle turning, you'll surely need a roughing gouge , won't you?  Maybe a skew chisel would be useful too?  And don't forget to consider the Spindlemaster.

©1997-2009 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice