Woodworking is a great skill to learn in life. The joy of turning plain wood into creative bowls to be used in everyday life is beyond words. Whether you choose to pursue the skill into a lifetime career, or just as another hobby, you must learn to use the right bowl gouge to guarantee perfect results.
The perfect bowl gouge will make turning bowls into perfect round shapes as easy as pie. We have reviewed the best bowl gouge for the money to help you make an informed pick. By the end of the review, you should have all the necessary information about bowl gouges to help you make an informed purchase decision.
Top 9 Best Bowl Gouges for the Money
The Robert Sorby deep flute bowl gouge is a ½ inch HHS extra-long gouge that is a perfect tool for any woodturner regardless of the level of expertise. The Robert Sorby deep flute bowl gouge is uniquely designed for woodturning, with an amazing capability to make both large cuts and delicate finishes. The tool is refined from a solid bar to enhance mass and stability and is built with High-Speed Steel (HSS), therefore further boosting durability.
- Features high-quality HSS (High-Speed Steel), thus can maintain a sharp edge longer than carbon steel (up to 3x longer)
- Resistant to “blued” softening from overheating, thanks to the high-quality HSS material
- The bowl gouge also features an extra-long handle built with hard White Ash and brass ferrule
- The handle is 17” long while the tool measures 9”
Manufacturer: Robert Sorby
Weight: 1.34 lbs.
Item Dimensions: 15” x 2.5 x 0.75
Overall length: 26 inches (Handle = 17”, Tool = 9”)
Model Number: 842XLH – ½
The Robert Sorby deep flute bowl gouge is a perfect bowl gouge both for beginners and experts alike. The gouge is also quite flexible as it can make both fine and massive cuts perfectly.
The next bowl gouge for the money is the ¾” Robert Sorby #842XLH model. You can tell that this is a quality bowl gouge just by looking at it. This is due to the tool’s thickness and heavy build, which make the gouge very strong and durable. The gouge is manufactured by Ever Pest and is built with high-quality materials of brass, steel, and wood. Additionally, the bowl gouge’s extra thickness makes turning bowl bottoms super easy.
- The tool features a thick flue for easy operation
- The deep flute grind makes it easy for the operator to switch from the insides to the bottom of the bowl.
- The efficient tool is made from high-quality brass and steel. The handle is hardwood.
- The bowl turning gouge features one of the most comfortable handles for extra comfort
Manufacturer: Ever Pest
Part Number: 842XLH-19
Weight: 1 pound
Dimensions: 25.5” x 2” x 1.5”
Material: Brass, steel, wood
The ¾” Robert Sorby #842XLH is a top-quality bowl gouge, capable of handling any bowl turning tasks you may have. However, I’d recommend the gouge to professionals only as beginners may have a difficult time handling the tool correctly because of the extra thickness.
The IMOTECHOM ½ inch HSS Bowl Gouge Lathe Chisel woodturning tools are a good deal for the money. These efficient woodturning tools come well packaged in a box during shipping, guaranteeing that all the tools reach you in perfect condition. The woodturning tools have some pretty impressive features, including high-quality HSS build, among other things.
- All bowl turning tool comes with accurately sharpened chisel heads
- The bowl gouge features a 9-inch HSS blade that will maintain a sharp edge even after years of use
- The handle is 15.3 inches and is made from hardwood to provide a nice and comfortable grip
- The contents included in the package include a ½” HSS bowl gouge with a lathe chisel
Manufacturer: IMOTECH TECHNOLOGY
Part No. MTA0203
Item Weight: 9.6 ounces
Dimensions: 25.5 x 2.5 x 2.25 inches
Size: ½ -inch HSS Bowl gouge
Material: High-Speed Steel (HSS)
The IMOTECH HSS bowl turning tools come as a set, therefore, saving you a lot of money as you don’t have to buy the different pieces separately. Many tools can be used by beginners and professionals alike. This is because professionals can choose the best tool for specific tasks, while the beginner can work with any of them.
Next, we have a set of Robert Sorby tools by Grizzly. The Robert Sorby 67HS 6-piece lathe turning set features 6 different woodturning tools at a lower price than what you’d pay buying the pieces separately; therefore, the set offers value for money. The tools include a ¾” spindle roughing gouge, 3/8” spindle gouge, 3/8” bowl gouge, ¾” standard skew chisel, 1/8” parting tool, and ½” round nose scraper.
- The complete set features easy-to-use lathe tools that can be used by beginners and professionals alike.
- The set consists of a roughing gouge, a spindle gouge, a bowl gouge, oval skew, a parting tool, and a round scraper.
- The complete package weighs approximately 6.4”
Part No. A67HS6T
Item Weight: 4.6 pounds
Dimensions: 12.9” x 20.2” x 2.1”
The Robert Sorby 67HS 6 piece lathe turning set is one of the best bowl gouge deals available in the market today. The set provides a total of 6 turning tools, thus, saving you a substantial amount of money. The only problem we found is that some of the tools are of poor quality and can break easily.
Fifth on our bowl gouge review, and my personal favorite, are the Hurricane turning tools. The tools come in a three-piece set featuring a ¼” flute, 3/8” flute, and ½” flute. Thus, you get different options to handle various woodturning tasks. Just as you’d expect from a top-quality bowl gouge, the tools are all made with High-Speed Steel; therefore, guaranteeing strength and durability.
- The hurricane Turning Tools set features 3 separate spindle gouges.
- The 3 gouges have the following sizes; ¼’ spindle gouge with a ¼” bar stock, 3/8” spindle gauge and bar stock of similar size, and ½” spindle gouge and an equal bar stock
- The tools are made from High-Speed Steel (HSS), thus guaranteeing 8x longer life than carbon steel materials
Manufacturer: The Instrument Store
Model Number: HSG_Set
Item Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Dimensions: 18” x 2” x 2”
Material: High-Speed Steel
Number of pieces: 3
Ideal Usage: Woodturning
The Hurricane tools are some of the most cost-efficient woodturning tools available in the market today. Additionally, the three different sized gouges make the set usable by both professionals and beginners alike. I’d highly recommend the tools to anyone looking to master their woodturning skills.
The Robert Sorby H9076 model is also another cost-efficient bowl turning gouge to buy in 2020. The bowl gouge features a 3/8” fingernail grind, giving the tool immense flexibility during operation. The fingernail grind allows you to comfortably use the gouge for detailed spindle work as well as make fine shears. Besides, the H9076 model has a new feature for better performance – ground back wingtips that help reduce the occurrence of “catches.”
- Fingernail medium grind
- Is built with High-Speed Steel (Resists “blued” softening due to overheating)
- The cutting edge lasts 6x longer than carbon steel
- The tool has an overall length of 16-½.”
- The handle is built with hardened white ash
Manufacturer: Robert Sorby
Part number: B842F104
Item Weight: 15.8 lbs.
Product Dimensions: 23.55” x 5.2” x 2.4”
The Robert Sorby H9076 Fingernail bowl gouge is a top-quality bowl gouge that is perfect for turning inside bowls, thanks to the fingernail medium grind. Although beginners can handle the tool easily, I’d recommend the gouge to the professional woodturners seeking perfection.
The Pinnacle cryogenic bowl gouge is also among the best bowl gouges for the money. This incredible tool bowl gouge by Crown Hands Tools is exclusively designed for woodcraft. As you can tell from its name, this bowl gouge is cryogenically treated, thus, resulting in superb quality. The special cryogenic treatment gives the tool 3x more strength than M2 High-Speed Steel tools, which makes the bowl gouge very valuable.
- The Pinnacle cryogenic fingernail grind bowl gouge is made in Sheffield England and features a cryogenically-treated build to provide a stronger blade
- The process involves treating the blade to sub-zero temperatures of -300 degrees F, which modifies the steel material to produce a strong edge for bowl turning
- The tool features an ash handle which provides a comfortable grip
- The bowl gouge has a total length of 17” – 23.”
Manufacturer: Crown Hand Tools Ltd
Weight: 1.14 lbs.
Dimensions: 4” x 24.55” x 2.1”
Model number: 148782
The Pinnacle cryogenic fingernail bowl gouge is an invaluable woodturning gouge for professionals. The bowl gouge provides all the benefits of metal gouges like stability and durability while coming at half the price. Thus, the tool is perfect for anyone looking to buy a cheap bowl gouge that still delivers quality and decent service.
The PSI woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8 pc HSS Chisel set features 8 different woodturning tools to give you a wide range of options to choose from. The tools are all built from high-quality M2HSS, thus, guaranteeing strength and stability. In addition to the strong build, the tools come in a nice wooden box. Therefore, the storage and transportation of the tools become super easy.
- The set features 8 different woodturning tools
- The tools are perfect for turning pens pepper mills spindle bowls as well as other woodturning projects
- Each of the chisels features the following measurements; 16 – ¼” 9(length), 1 – ¼” M2HSS blade, 10” hardwood handle
- The woodturning tools come in the following sizes; 3/16” parting tool, 5/8 spear scraper, 1” skew chisel, 5/8” skew chisel, 5/8” round nose scraper, ½” bowl gouge, 7/8” roughing gouge
- The tools also come in a wooden casing that you can use for storage when not using the tools
Manufacturer: PSI Woodworking
Part No. LCHSS8
Item Weight: 7.17 lbs.
Dimensions: 18” x 2 x 13.5”
Material: M2 High-Speed Steel
Added Components: Chisels (8 pieces)
Warranty: 2 years
The PSI woodworking 8pc HSS chisel bowl turning set gives you a wide range of tools to choose from; thus, you can accomplish numerous tasks with the same set. Therefore, I’d recommend the set to professional woodturners and hobbyists as well.
Our bowl gouge review would be incomplete without mentioning the 8pc Benjamin’s anniversary set. This set features 8 different woodturning tools designed to handle numerous bowl turning tasks. Additionally, the set gives value for money since you get 8 different woodturning tools at a discounted price.
- The woodturning set includes the following tools; 1/8” and 3/16” spindle gouges, 9/64” beading tool, 9/64” Diamond Point, 9/64” Square Nose Scraper, 3/8” x 1/8” parting tool, 1/8” round nose scraper, 3/8” x 1/8” skew chisel
- The bowl turning gouge features a 2.25” blade and a 5.25” handle
- The set is ideal for making intricate details on large bowls, as well as making small turns for the smaller projects, thanks to the efficient micro-chisels.
Manufacturer: PSI Woodworking
Part No. LCAN8MD
Weight: 1.65 lbs.
Dimensions: 9.5” x 1.5” x 9”
Material: M2 High-Speed Steel
Additional Components: Wood Case, 8 Micro Chisels
Warranty: 2 years
The 8pc Benjamin’s best HSS Micro Detailing anniversary set is a perfect combination of high end turning tools that can handle even the most delicate bowl turning projects. Since the tools are designed for detailing, I’d only recommend the set to professionals.
Bowl Gouge Buying Guide
Whether you are a professional woodturner, hobbyist, or beginner, you must use the perfect bowl gouge for to achieve the desired result. Shopping for a perfect bowl gouge can be challenging, especially if you don’t know what to look for. That is why we have included a buying guide to educate you on the features to look for when shopping for a quality bowl gouge.
Factors to Consider before Buying a Bowl Gouge
The type of material used in a bowl gouge is an important factor to consider when shopping for any bowl gouge. Traditionally, bowl gouges were made from high carbon steel, and some bowl gouge models still use the material today.
However, the problem with carbon steel is that the material gets blunt easily, thus, requiring regular sharpening, which causes the bowl gouge to wear fast. To solve this problem, modern bowl gouges are built with High-Speed Steel, which is an alloy of Molybdenum, tungsten, and chromium. The HSS material results in stronger bowl gouges with high edge retention. HSS is also resistant to high temperatures and is resistant to “blue” softening caused by overheating during operation.
M2 HSS is another variation of HSS used in modern bowl gouges, and is also equally strong. Always consider bowl gouges made from HSS or M2 HSS to ensure you get the best quality.
Next, always know the specific work you want to use a bowl gouge for before shopping for one. Different bowl gouges are designed to handle different tasks; therefore, understanding the task will help you determine the best model to purchase.
3.Bowl gouge Size
Different woodturning jobs require the use of different bowl gouge sizes. Consider the following bowl gouge sizes and the suitable tasks for each size.
- ½” Bowl Gouge: Ideal when working on a bowl with a diameter of not exceeding 12 inches.
- 5/8” Bowl Gouge: Ideal for medium-large sized bowls with a diameter of 12 – 14 inches.
- ¾” Bowl Gouge: Perfect for working on large bowls with diameters exceeding 14 inches.
- Large-size gouges function better than small-sized bowl gouges. However, it is always good to try out the different sizes and stick to the size you are most comfortable working with.
- If you are a beginner, I’d recommend you start by practicing with small bowl gouges before graduating to larger ones.
4.Grind Profile/ Flute Shape
Just like the above case, different grind profiles and flute shapes are ideal for different tasks. A bowl gouge can have any of the following grind profiles.
- Traditional Grind
- Fingernail Grind
- Swept Back Grind
The traditional grind is the most common grind on bowl gouges. The grind features a straight design that has some benefits, such as easy sharpening. Also, the traditional grind is the best grind profile to use when dealing with the difficult grain.
The traditional grind profile is also sometimes referred to as a “bottom feeder” since it is mostly used for turning bowl bottoms.
- The U flute shape is the best flue shape for traditional grinds.
B. Fingernail Grind
The fingernail grind is the most versatile profile for turning bowls since the grind is ideal for several uses; detailing, roughing, and shearing. However, the fingernail grind is more difficult to use compared to the traditional one. Thus, the fingernail grind is better suited for professionals and experienced woodturners.
- The v flute is the best flute shape to use on a fingernail grind.
c. Swept-back Grind
The swept-back grind is the most advanced type of grind profile. The profile is also the most popular version among professionals and experienced turners because the swept-back grinds provide immense flexibility when working.
- The parabolic flute is the best flute shape to use with a swept-back grind.
Since a bowl gouge is a hand-held tool, you need to be mainly focused on the type of handle on your preferred bowl gouge. You do not want to end up with a tool with an uncomfortable handle since you will be using the tool for hours on end. Therefore, always opt for a wooden handle rather than a metallic one. A plastic handle is also applicable since you will have a comfortable grip when working; thus, avoiding injuries and unnecessary strain on your hands.
Bowl Gouge Usage
Shaping a Bowl Gouge
Beginners often have a hard time operating a bowl gouge straight from the box. This is because you are required to make a few adjustments on the tool before starting the operation. One such change includes shaping the bowl gouge. (Note: Shaping a bowl gouge is different from sharpening.)
Bowl shaping involves changing the tool’s profile to the desired shape. I’d recommend you only alter the tool’s grinding profile once and stick with the new shape for all operations. This is because shaping involves the reduction of material and can cause a lot of wastage if overdone.
Always use a protractor to measure the perfect bevel angle and then use a sharpening jig to grind the edge to the desired shape. When grinding, you use a more coarse grit grinding wheel than the one used for sharpening, thus getting rid of more material quickly.
Sharpening a Bowl Gouge
Next, you should know how to sharpen a bowl gouge. Though you can sharpen a bowl gouge by hand, I’d recommend using a sharpening jig to ease the process.
The sharpening jig comes with instructions on sharpening bowl gouges, so you shouldn’t encounter many difficulties with the process. Remember to use the finer grit grinding wheel when sharpening the bowl gouge.
How to use a Bowl Gouge Correctly
- Always ensure that the lathe tool perfectly fits into the handle before starting work. A loose chisel makes rotating the bowl gouge difficult.
- Also, ensure that the flute is closed and facing downwards, especially if you are a beginner. An upward-facing flute causes the wood to catch, which hinders smooth operation.
- Next, make sure that the tool’s flat bevel surface is parallel to the wood for an ideal cutting pass. This position is referred to as “riding the bevel.”
- Remember to lower the handle a bit when making the turns as you get more leverage.
- Finally, be patient when turning bowls. If you try slicing too much material at once, the gouge will catch the wood, thus, slowing you down.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which is the best bowl gouge for the money in 2020?
When selecting the bowl gouge, you should consider all the features on each available model based on your specific task. The best bowl gouge is the Hurricane 3-piece bowl gouge set since the set has all the tools you need for turning bowls and comes at an affordable price.
- What bowl gouge size should I use?
The specific bowl gouge size to use depends on the specific work to be achieved. That said, you should use a ½” bowl gouge for small bowls with a diameter less than 12”, a 5/8” for diameters of 12-14 inches, and a ¾” bowl gouge for larger diameters.
- Who manufactures hurricane Turning tools?
Hurricane turning tools are made by Jamie Straw of Woodturners Store New York and distributed by Steve Fulgoni.
- Where can I buy quality bowl gouges?
Bowl turning tools are quite popular in the market, and you can find some quality models in any woodworking store in your vicinity. However, I’d recommend you always buy bowl gouges and other woodworking tools from online stores like Amazon. That way, you have more options to choose from, and you can also refer to the customer reviews for some useful guidance on the purchase.
Beginners Guide - The Bowl Gouge
I am glad you’ve come this far in our review for the best bowl gouge for the money review. I hope that the article has been a valuable source of information for you to help you make an informed purchase decision. Remember; what works for one person doesn’t have to always work for you. Therefore, always try different bowl gouges before deciding the best one to work with. Have an awesome time finding a perfect bowl gouge for your woodturning projects.