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Spindle Roughing Gouges

Roughing Gouges:  The smooth, constant radius curves of the Henry Taylor 3/4” and 1-1/2” roughing gouges.  Click for photo. Types include HS3, 843H34, HS112, 843LH114, HS188, HS4, HS152, KHS3, KHS112, KHS188 Now don't let's get the wrong idea here: roughing gouges are definitely not for producing rough work.  Indeed, properly used they are extremely useful finishing tools as well.  The primary use of the spindle roughing gouge is for reducing square cross-section spindle-turning blanks to cylinders ready for detailing with the spindle gouge or planing with a skew chiselNB: Do not under any circumstances try to use a roughing gouge in bowl turning.  There are further  tools of these types on the Hamlet and Crown pages.

Look at the illustration on this page and you will see that the 'wings' of the spindle roughing gouge are NOT ground back: the tool is ground straight across by rolling it side to side on the grinding rest without swinging it side to side at all.  This is very important to its effective use.  With a spindle roughing gouge correctly ground in this form, you will find that not only can it serve to remove large amounts of timber quickly, but it can also be used to plane the surface of the spindle blank to a high finish and can be used for the shaping of components with relatively gentle curves, such as the centre section of a stair baluster.

Unfortunately, the illustrations here cannot show the true differences in the profiles of the tools produced by our two featured manufacturers, Henry Taylor and Robert Sorby.  Both types work well and personal preferences will eventually have to be the guiding principles.  The Taylor design has a more constant radius throughout most of the cross-section, making it very easy to roll on the toolrest to bring new, sharp sections of the cutting edge into play.  In full cross-section the tool blade describes almost a full semi-circle.  The Sorby model has more of a true U-shape with almost straight side sections leading up to the outer wing ends and an included angle of around forty degrees between the two sides, joined by a radius at the bottom of the flute, making it appear a more open flute.

Which is the better design?  How long's a piece of string?  I've used both for a number of years and I know what I prefer - having both!  As to size, my advice would be, unless you're doing a lot of very small work, go for the largest size available.  And OK, if really pressed to buy just one, I reckon it would be the 1-1/2" Taylor HS4, and I use this for everything from pen blanks and lace bobbins to newel posts - that's a versatile tool in my book!

Taylor Roughing Gouge: HS3, 843H34, HS112, 843LH114, HS188, HS4, HS152, KHS3, KHS112, KHS188

Henry Taylor

Click for photo
Henry Taylor make roughing gouges using Kryo treated steel. HS3, 843H34, HS112, 843LH114, HS188, HS4, HS152, KHS3, KHS112, KHS188
Sorby Roughing Gouge: HS3, 843H34, HS112, 843LH114, HS188, HS4, HS152, KHS3, KHS112, KHS188

Robert Sorby

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 degrees 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.


The HS152 is a dual-role roughing and spindle gouge which may be used for large-scale spindle work as well as roughing down to size.
The HS188, 1.1/4" (32 m) wide with 14.1/2" handle, has a swept back cutting edge making it more versatile in spindle turning operations, beyond simple roughing down.


*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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And now you have the roughing gouge, won't you be needing a spindle gouge to continue the shaping with, or a skew chisel to plane the surface flat?

Here at The ToolPost we're always happy to help you with your tool selection queries.  If you need help, please don't hesitate to telephone or e-mail.  Our advice is free and given in the spirit of helping you develop your skills and gain greater satisfaction from your participation in the great craft of woodturning.  You won't be subjected to hard sell: we are in the business of building relationships with our client base, not simply making a fast buck.  So don't be shy, give it a try.  If your query doesn't receive a response after a couple of days, please re-transmit your request as this delay would normally indicate your enquiry has been lost in transit.  Also try to ensure that the reply address you give is correct - it is amazing how many times queries are accompanied by incorrect reply addresses and we hate preparing responses which then bounce back to us from the server.  Help us to help you.

©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