If you have ever turned a bowl, you must know what a wonderful experience that is. Whether you turn bowls as a hobby or do it professionally, the end product always feels so close to heart.
But how to get an end product that looks just as perfect as store-bought bowls? By investing in a bowl gouge, of course! Bowl gouges are simple, efficient tools that make woodturning as simple as you can imagine.
However, it might be challenging to choose the best bowl gouge from the countless options available. Therefore, to help you, we have reviewed the top 10 bowl gouges. We hope that reading this helps you to assess which one you need.
Top 5 Best Bowl Gouge Comparison:
1/4", 3/8", 1/2"
1/4", 3/8", 5/8", 1/2"
Our 10 Best Bowl Gouge Reviews:
Choosing the right bowl gouge is not an easy task. Some might want a gouge that is small in size and sharp; others might require robust, larger ones. It all depends on the kind of task you need the tool to do.
To help you better assess your options, we have compiled a list of the best 10 bowl gouges and mentioned all their pros and cons for you.
1. Carter & Son Toolworks 5/8" Bowl Gouge
If you are looking to get a big job done, that might cause a lot of wear and tear to the tools and needs everything to be precise; then, you should check this Carter & Son model out. With its super-long handle and strong blade, this bowl gouge is apt to get even the trickiest job done in a breeze.
Some people might be put off with the model's bulky size, especially considering its 16-inch-long handle. However, the handle has been made with aluminum, so that even though it is bulky, it is not necessarily heavy.
Many models with large handles are heavy, but with this one, your hands won’t get fatigued even if you hold on to this for hours on end.
The factor that makes this product unique is the construction of the blade. Made from M42 High-Speed steel, this model guarantees durability and strength for each and every use to come. It also includes a super sharp edge, which makes sure that the experience of woodturning goes smoothly for you.
Besides, the blade has been heat-treated, so it can resist all kinds of wear and tear even after prolonged use. Although some users do not like the tip, you have all the necessary things to change it as per your need. The sharpening process is straightforward and does not mess with the durability of the blade.
2. Hurricane Turning Tools, Woodturning Three Piece Bowl Gouge Set
If you are a beginner and just experimenting with woodturning, then this three-piece set will be only the right product for you. The flexibility this set provides with its three different sized gouges will help skilled craftsmen and novices alike.
Moreover, these sets' handles are far longer than their carbon steel counterparts and yet aren’t uncomfortable at all. These are pretty easy to grip on to while working. Besides, the material of this set is M-2 High-speed steel, which gives it its sturdiness.
One of the most amazing things about this model is that you can sharpen it as much as you need to get your preferred edge. It typically lasts eight times as long between sharpening as other comparatives, so you do not have to worry about its longevity at all.
This model’s price also helps to set it apart from other competitors. Most models charge 2-3 times more than this for the same basic functions, so unless you need something specific to a particular model, this gouge is bound to suit your needs. Its ability to hold edge also results in a much cleanly finished product.
3. 1/2" Robert Sorby Fingernail Bowl Gouge
Bowl gouges come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But for someone who needs the best ½” bowl gouge in the market, this Robert Sorby model is the right choice. The sharp edge of the model makes any kind of woodturning work much more comfortable, from shearing to shaping cuts.
With this fingernail bowl gouge with 5/8" shank, it is pretty straightforward to apply fingernail grinds without any hassle.
Many bowl gouges are made from carbon steel, and while those are quite strong, nothing beats a high-speed steel construction. This material helps the product to last six times longer than if it was made out of other kinds of steel, so durability is an issue you do not need to worry about.
There’s a popular term - the longer the handle of a gouge, the better it is. But also, most people know - the length is proportionate to the discomfort. However, this model is shaped at just the right size – 14 inches of a handle and 9 inches of a blade – making it easy to work with.
Even the product's handle is made from quality material like had white ash and promises longevity and sturdiness. Besides, we love that its blade can tolerate high temperatures, so there is no risk of it softening. All in all, this is one of the top bowl gouges you are going to come across.
4. IMOTECHOM 1/2-Inches Bowl Gouge
We are now going to talk about this model from Imotechom that is well known for its functions as well as beauty. Most bowl gouges are just basic tools that do not score too high on the elegance department, but this model, with its beautiful walnut handle, definitely looks classy in your hand.
Besides, adding some sophistication, the walnut handle helps keep the tool in good shape as it is quite strong and not prone to get damaged easily. The whole tool is quite well balanced, so even if you have to work with it the entire day, your hands will not get tired at all.
Like any other reputed model, it is also made from high-speed steel, making it extra sharp and long-lasting. What distinguishes it from other models is that it is sharpened beforehand; you can use it straight after getting it out of the box, an event which is not possible with most other models.
Last but not least, this tool has the best packaging among all other tools until now. With this model, you do not have to worry about it getting broken or damaged somehow, as it is shipped with complete protection, saving it from any untoward occurrence. This is usually not the case with other tools.
5. Yellowhammer Turning Tools Ultimate 4 Piece Bowl Gouge Set
If you are just starting on woodturning, then you might be better off purchasing a bowl gouge set instead of a single one, as the set will help you with different kinds of shaping. Such a model would be the YellowHammer 4-piece set, which is well known among people for simplicity and efficiency.
This set has four different tools, of which each has a different purpose. If you are confused about which one to use for which task, you can always refer back to their manual. These can be used by professionals as well, as it gets a variety of jobs done at a fraction of the cost of buying four gouges separately.
One of the best things about this model is that the blades included with the tools come already sharpened by a machine beforehand. This saves a lot of time for the buyer, as you can get to work straight away. However, if you do not like finishing, you can always reshape it to your liking.
This set's handles are 16 inches long, which is quite a lot, but well balanced, which makes it comfortable to use. Finally, the blades of this model are quite long-lasting and are known to maintain their edges very well. So, you will get nothing but smooth sharp finishes with this toolset.
6. Woodstock D3805 Bowl Gouge
Looking for a woodturning tool but don’t want to end up buying a whole set? Well, then this Woodstock bowl gouge is the perfect product for you. Its size is only ½”, which allows it to work with all sorts of wood in a precise manner that you can hardly find with other tools.
The materials in the tool speak for the quality itself. Made from high-Speed steel, this model has a blade that stays sharp for extended periods. You don’t have to worry about the product's lifespan, as it lasts well in its primary state forever.
Right out of the packet, you will notice that one end of the tool has been sharpened for you. However, it might not be as refined as you need for a particular task. In that case, you have all the tools to reshape it in the way you like. This gives the product a lot of flexibility.
Another great thing about this model is that it holds its edge quite well and does not get blunt easily. With this tool, the time needed between sharpening can be six times as long as with other models. This gives it a competitive advantage over others.
7. Hurricane Turning Tools, Woodturning Bowl Gouge
The hurricane turning tools have a good reputation worldwide, and this one is of no exception. With this bowl gouging set in hand, you can easily get all your woodturning tasks done, whether it is huge and strenuous or not. The result is also very clean and sharp.
Moreover, the durability and strength of the tools are what truly sets this model apart. The products are made from High-Speed steel, which is well known for being able to withstand years of pressure without even cracking a little bit. This makes it a genuinely robust model.
Sharp edges are another thing that we absolutely love about this model. The edges help carve out the bowl precisely the way you want to, and does not need sharpening often as getting blunt is something this model rarely does.
This basically means that you are good to go for quite a long time with only one sharpening. Plus, the handle is made from ash, which adds to the longevity of the model. It is also quite long at 16 inches but does not tire out the wrist in any way at all.
8. Crown 242EW 1/2" ELLSWORTH SIGNATURE GOUGE
We will now talk about an immensely popular model amongst consumers as it was designed by the famous woodturner David Ellsworth. This fact alone has made the model internationally reputed. Some even go as far as to say that this is the best bowl gouge out there, and rightly so.
Made from quality material like high-speed steel and beech wood, this gouge definitely finishes any task wonderfully and accurately. Our favorite part is the hollow grind developed into the blade, which makes the product suitable for various types of cutting jobs, thus promoting versatility.
You do not have to worry about the blade rusting with prolonged usage or getting damaged somehow. The superior steel construction of the model prevents such occurrences from happening. Instead, this will last at least six times longer than a similar carbon steel-based model.
We are really fond of this product's handle, as this gives it an extra edge. Made from beech wood, this 17-inch handle makes working with the blade a cup of tea. Besides, the handle is strong yet lightweight enough, so it does not put any undue pressure on your hands while keeping the whole thing stable.
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9. Carter & Son Toolworks 1/2" Bowl Gouge
This is another unit from Carter and Son tool works, except this one’s size is ½” while the previous one was 5/8”. With its small size, this gouge can shape wood very precisely and to the point. The V-shaped flute integrated into the model helps with this by giving you an efficient flow to work with.
Moreover, the product's handle is made from high-quality aluminum, which gives it a slightly better edge than others. The handle is sturdy and robust in terms of durability and is comfortable on the hands. Besides, it does a great job of reducing the impact of any sounds and vibrations.
One of the most incredible things about the model is the materials its blade is made from. Originally constructed from high-quality steel, the blade also has 10% cobalt content, making it stronger. On top of that, the blade has been heat-treated to hold and maintain the edge of the tool in a perfect manner.
Other benefits of this model include resisting all sorts of wear and tear due to it being treated with heat. This makes it fit for tough jobs that require a lot of grinding, as you generally end up with rusted products after such tasks. Also, the whole tool is straightforward to control and navigate your way around.
10. Robert Sorby Deep Flute Bowl Gouge
We will talk about another one of our absolute favorites – the Robert Sorby Deep Flute model. This model, with its chiseled blade and beautiful ash white handle, not only looks great from the outside but also gives a spectacular performance when you need it to.
The tool's blade is made of tempered hard high-speed steel, which stays wear and tear-free for extended amounts of time with little to no maintenance. This means that you do not need to quickly replace this model, making it an excellent value for the money despite the initial expense.
We love the fact that this model is sharpened right from the start. Many tools require you to sharpen the model before you start working, or are honed in a way that they do not complete the task nicely. So, having this feature is like a breath of fresh air and adds to the product’s plus points.
This model is quite long at 26 inches, and 17 inches of this is from the handle. Having a long handle actually helps to control this tool better, and results in a better performance. Furthermore, the model is resistant to damage from heat and excessive grinding, so you can use this for years to come with no worries at all.
How to Choose the Best Bowl Gouge?
Bowl gouges are instruments with a very specific use, which is why sometimes it can be hard to find the best options online. This article will help make that choice by guiding you through some of the questions you should ask yourself before purchasing one of your own.
How is a bowl gauge used?
A bowl gouge is meant to be used to work on wooden bowls. It functions as a tool that removes layers from it, giving it shape and depth as it turns.
Technically, the procedure is based on cutting through the wood and scalping out filaments of the material. For this, there are several techniques. Four of them are the most used because they create the more common shapes and cuts:
Push cut bowl gouge cutting technique
A push cut involves cutting by, as the technique’s name hints, pushing the tip of the bowl gouge forward through the surface of the wooden bowl.
Scrape cut bowl gouge cutting technique
In this case, the bowl gouge faces the wooden bowl flipped over, meaning the flute faces the wood surface as the instrument cuts through it. The top bowl gouge wing is not touching the surface, while the lower one is and achieves all of the scraping action. For this type of cut, the angle is not involved at all.
The scrape cutting technique is used primarily to adjust the shape and finish of a wooden bowl since it is quick for removing material and can be used to perfect a piece in no time.
Shear scraping cut bowl gouge cutting technique.
As in the scrape cut, the wings of the bowl gouge are used instead of the slope. Instead of holding the bowl horizontally, like in the scrape bowl cutting technique, the tool's orientation is at forty-five degrees. As for the scrape cutting, only the gouge's lower wing touches the surface, acting like a razor and hence acting somewhat like a shaver of think filaments of wood.
It is a pretty complex technique compared to the rest, but it will save you trouble at the end since it gives the bowl a great finish, and you will not need practically any sanding. Being a little more difficult, it is only recommended for bowl exteriors since it can be hard to manipulate and give the correct angle if working on the inside of the bowl.
Pull cut bowl gouge cutting technique.
Finally, the pull cut, just like the push cut, is an angle riding one. It means that the angle is parallel to the wood surface, unlike in the shear scraping or the scrape cut techniques. The tip follows the movement, pulling towards the turner as one advances with the cut.
How does the size vary?
There are different bowl gouge sizes, and how to choose between them will depend on how comfortable you are with the art of bowl turning. Even though different sizes have different uses, which will be detailed below, it is important to start with a larger gauge until you get some experience and experiment with smaller ones.
1/2” diameter bowl gouge
This gouge size is great if you are starting to get to know bowl gouges and woodworking. It is considered a large diameter and will give you good practice in shaping and turning with ease.
3/8” diameter bowl gouge
Smaller than the half-inch, the 3/8" diameter bowl gouge in a great one for finishing cuts. It leaves fine and clean cuts that will give your bowl the perfect touch
5/8” diameter bowl gouge
Together with the ¾” diameter bowl gouge, this 5/8” diameter one is a little bit larger and will make it far more practical for larger wood bowls since it acts as a plough, removing waste and advancing faster on the bowl surface.
Why pick a bowl gouge and not a spindle gouge?
It is a very common question, especially amongst those who are new to woodturning. The basic difference between the bowl gouge and the spindle gouge is that the bowl gouge is curved and has wings, while the spindle gauge does not really have wings but more of a flat shape all across.
This difference in design makes bowl gouges ideal for turning wood bowls, while the spindle gouge is weaker at the tip since less material surrounds it, make it more difficult to round bowls. Instead, it can be used for scraping and details, taking advantage of its lack of side wings that allow for a 90 angle turn to scrape. It is not confused with the shear scraping or scrape cutting techniques achieved solely with bowl gouges.
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At first, it might seem like any bowl gouges should work for you to pursue your handcrafting hobby. But the truth is, without the perfect tool, or in this case, bowl gouge, your end product will be far from what you want to be.
You need special tools for specific grinding, i.e. traditional grind, fingernail grind, 40/40 grind, Irish grind, micro-bevel grind, Ellsworth grind, etc.
We hope that by exploring the reviews of the models we have mentioned in this article, you have been able to find the best bowl gouge that suits your needs. So, for now, go shopping and get the means to turn your bow as soon as possible!