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Buzzkill

Forming a roughing gouge

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A little background first.  Until a few weeks ago I had never turned wood on a lathe.  I built a makeshift lathe from parts I had and of course about a week later someone gave me a Shopsmith 10e - the oldest model made I believe.  I spent a couple weekends resurrecting it from the dead and making a tool rest and drive center for the lathe function.  I've also made a skew chisel and now I'm planning to make a roughing gouge, parting tool, and probably a bowl gouge.  My potential starting materials are coil spring, leaf spring, old files, or some O1 drill rod.

I don't have a press or power hammer, so I'm looking for a good way to form the roughing gouge.  My thinking is using the leaf spring for this, but pounding it into the deep "U" shape needed using the step and horn will definitely be time consuming and it may be difficult for me to get a uniform shape six to eight inches long.  I've considered fabricating a tool that will support the edges and a top fuller that I can use to create the channel, but I thought I'd ask if anyone has a better idea before I get started down that road.

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are you going to grind or file the back of the chisel smooth?   I would start with a tapered end of a leaf spring, hot cut a piece to work with  and use a bottom swage to form it into using a cross peen peen.   Do you have a good one to use as a model?

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I will be using my grinder to do as much of additional shaping and sharpening as possible.  I don't have any attachments right now which will allow me to grind in the channel though.

I don't have a roughing gouge to lay eyes on while working.  All I really have is pictures and videos I've seen to estimate the dimensions and approximate shape.

I'd have to create a bottom swage to do that, but I do have a combination straight and cross pein hammer with fairly large radii that I can use to at least get the shape close.  I might have to switch to a smaller pein or fuller to get deep enough though.

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Well it's fairly simple to do a nice smooth back using slack belt grinding on your 2x72 belt grinder---you need a smooth back so you can easily adjust the attack of the gouge on your tool rest in use.  Interior smoothness not as important

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Thanks for the responses and the tip.  The back side should be no problem to clean up well.

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A cross peen hammer with a wide peen will mark up the inside which as long as the dings are not extreme will not cause too many functional problems.  If you want it to b be pretty inside use a fuller on the top rather than hitting it directly with a hammer.  In this case a fuller can be as simple as a larger diameter piece of round bar with a smaller bar welded on as a handle.  Think hotdog on a stick.  A striker with a sledge is very helpful but not necessary.   Make sure you round the ends of the fuller so you don't have sharp corners to dig into the inside. 

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This will be a one man operation, but I should be able to make a hardy hole mounted spring fuller to do that part of the job.  I'm just trying to figure out what to do for the bottom swage.  I considered trying to use wood since this will probably be a one-off item, but I don't think that would work well on the anvil and I don't have a good size stump I can modify.  I will figure something out though.

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I learned to turn on a Shopsmith.  I'd advise getting a mini lath like the Nova instead!  When I had a big turning job to do, I bought a nova lathe!  The difference was astounding!!!  High speed steel is ideal for lathe chisels... I would be satisfied that a roughing gouge made from leaf spring would perform reasonably well though!  A piece of black pipe ought to work pretty well as a mandrel to form the u shape needed!  I wouldn't be afraid to free hand such on my anvil top... but I am pretty skilled now.  I'd leave the leaf spring quite thick, as the weight and stiffness are assets for such a tool!  Ideally, I would select one that starts out at a good thickness so that all I'd have to do is form the tang and roll the U shape!

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Thanks for the additional replies.  bigfootnampa, I'm not sure how much I'll get into turning wood, since so far I enjoy hitting hot steel a bit more, but if I do move forward with it I'll definitely check out the Nova lathe.

Jspool, thanks for the link.  I was forging some of the tools when you posted, but the info regarding shaping the bowl gouge is helpful for grinding the cutting edge and possibly for future gouges as well.

Now I need to turn some handles for the tools I made and see how they work out.  The tools I made from coil spring still have a long enough "handle" portion that I can use them to turn their own wooden handles and then cut them off at the end of the drawn down tang areas for inserting into the wooden handles. I just need to see if I have some suitable pieces of wood, a day when sweat will actually evaporate, and a little time.

Thanks again for all the responses.

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I suggest that you have a quick look through Alexander Weyger's book the Complete Modern Blacksmith for an interesting method. Especially. check out his section on making a large roughing gouge and, if I remember correctly, finger gouges for bowl turning work. He was a wood sculptor first and an excellent smith.

SLAG. 

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Ultimately I got something that works well.  Used it yesterday and it makes the chips fly effortlessly.   Looking back now I would have formed it differently.  I took 3 sections of leaf spring from a semi trailer (each 3/4 inch thick) and made a blacksmith's helper so I could do the project solo.  I placed 2 pieces of the leaf spring I was using for the gouge between the 3 pieces of trailer spring then welded the 2 outer pieces in place with some flat straps between them.  Using a smaller leaf spring, I bent a U shape that fit through my hardy hole, welded one end to the previously mentioned contraption so it sits on the anvil's sweet spot, and then bent the other end around so I could weld the 3rd piece in place hovering above and between the other two.   All of these are in the on edge arrangement, and they are rounded on the edges already so I didn't have to do much more than clean them up to use them.  After welding a couple guides to keep the piece centered I heated my stock, slid it into place and used an 8 pound sledge to get things started.  It worked fairly well (although it took more heats than I anticipated) until the flute was more than halfway to where I wanted to be and then the piece started turning sideways and slipping down between the 2 pieces rather than continuing to wrap around and form a good U shape, so I had to finish that up by hand.  It's a little over a quarter inch thick, so it's plenty sturdy and it worked better than I had anticipated. 

If I had to do it again, or if I do it again, I will probably try to get the flute started with the step of the anvil and a straight peen hammer.  I think once the middle starts to flex I can get the rest of it where it needs to be with just hammer and anvil.  I may keep one of those pieces around so I can have the 3/4 inch thick rounded edge to use for straightening  and getting a uniform flute shape though.

That's probably somewhat confusing and a lot more info than you wanted, but you did ask.  :)

If it wasn't such a PITA to get pics from my "dumb phone" to the computer I'd snap a few shots to help explain, but....

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Buzzkill,  I'm late to the party but I've seen a few youtubers who made gouges out of tubular bicycle frames by grinding/cutting the tubing lengthwise.

You might also find that bed rail is a decent stock to start with as well.  Being at a 90 degree corner, you'd be opening the bend against a mandrel, rather than closing a flat with a swage.

 

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Walter Sorrels did a mini-series on making a set of wood turning tools, check his youtube channel, it's well worth a look.

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