Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Central New York
first homemade lathe gouge
I've been thinking for some time about making a homemade C1 rougher (used extensively by turners on a turning forum I'm on and sold by Easy Wood Tools for about $120) and when I saw the tips had come down to $1.20 I decided it was time.
I bought the 3/8" steel bar stock for under $3 and the wood cost me maybe $5 (probably less, but it's cocobolo, so on the expensive side). The tip I got for $1.20 (I bought 10 of them for $12) plus $.80 for the screw and the ferule is half of a copper coupling piece that was, I think, about $1, so that's about $10 or $12 total. Then there was another $10 which is half of the $20 that I paid a local machinist to grind down (recess) the end for the bit and tap it for the screw on two of these bars. If you can do your own grinding and tapping, then your cost will be just the $10 or so, which is a bit better than the $120 that Easy Wood charges.
I wasn't sure if I wanted bar stock or round stock and since it's so cheap, I'm doing one of each to see how I like each one. The 3/8" round stock wasn't really thick enough to take the screw and have much left over, so the machinist welded on a short square section at the end of the round one, which I thought was a great idea.
I was so much in a hurry to USE the tool that I didn't wait for the handle. I turned two bowls and then the handle of the tool while the tool was still just 12" long bar stock. That was a bit tedious on my fingers but I LOVE the way it turns, and now with the handle, it's really terrific.
I did notice that by the time I had done two bowls (of dry hardwood) plus the cocobolo handle, the one edge of the tip had gotten noticibly duller, but hey, even if it was just two bowls, that's 1/2 of 1/4 of $1.20, or 15 cents per bowl and this thing is SUCH a pleasure to use.
It looked BEAUTIFUL when it came off the lathe, just burnished, and I would have been delighted to use it as it was, BUT ... rather than drill a round hole big enough to accomdate the square cross section bar, I decided to split the handle wood, put in channels in both halves, glue it back together (with a paper separator) and then split it apart and reglue after turning so as to install the bar. I used epoxy on the bar and regular glue on the rest of the handle when regluing. To make a long story short, I did NOT do a great job of this part so it it took at bit of cleanup and it isn't quite as nice when looked at up close as it was fresh off the lathe, but it FEELS fabulous. The big blob of epoxy at the end of the ferule started off smaller, and was just to hide the slight mess-up I had created at the end of the channels, but I liked the way it looked, so made it even bigger.
There's no finish on it, just burnished cocobolo, and I plan to leave it that way.
I was a bit surprized to find that the "radius curve" at the corner of the tip is not a curve but a beveled flat slice. You can see that in the bottom right pic. It works just fine, I just expected a curve. I wouldn't even have noticed that except for the closeup pic that I took to see what it looked like. You certainly can't tell just looking at it directly; it's too small.
The handle for the round-stock version is a piece of much prettier cocobolo so I'm hoping it will be a bit more attractive. I'll post pics when I have it done.
By the way, if any of you turners are not familiar with the Easy Wood Tools you should check them out. All reports say that although they are just a shade on the pricy side, they are WONDERFUL tools, and my homemade one makes me agree w/ that.