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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't do much (really any yet) carving but I've got a gift card for Amazon that I was thinking about using on a Crown gouge rather than one of several sets of what apparently are terrible gouges or carving tools made in China otherwise available there.

I've got a set of convex and concave scrapers, and a brand new pullshave that was a birthday present, and thought a gouge might complement these.

I figure I'll probably just start with one for now, but wasn't sure what size would be most generically useful. Looking at charts I'm thinking #7 or #8, perhaps 3/4 inch so I can go deep if wanted?
 

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My local wood turning club had its monthly meeting this Tuesday. The demo was about carving turnings.

One demon on powered carving, the other on hand carving.

The hand carver demonstrator said the No. 5 gouge was the most useful.

Apparently the numbers are meaningful to infer the shape of the chisel.

I do not carve, so just passing on what I heard.
 

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I'm flatulanced!

The first number refers to the sweep, the shape/curvature of the edge. They are based upon a standard laid out a long time ago called "the London Pattern Book", the equivalent list is sometimes called the "Sheffield List." #1 is flat. . . . . #9 is a deep U-shape. The numbers run up into the 40's.

The second number commonly refers to the width of the gouge in mm (12mm approx 1/2")

F means fishtail -the shank is narrower than the edge area.
In Pfeil tools, 'D' refers to a set with shorter shanks and smaller handles, but the sweeps are identical
So, a D8/7 is identical to the full size 8/7.
Then for tight spaces, the shanks are bent = 'bent', 'front bent', 'spoon bent,' 'tracery bent. . . , all with unique LPB numbers.

Brands: concensus is that Pfeil is about the best. Ashley Iles & Henry Talor (UK) are up there, too.
You can find diagrams of the LPB in those company websites. The Pfeil logo is a an arrow (duh) on the steel shank and SWISS MADE on the very durable handle.

Size: sort of related to the size of the carving work to be done.
Big work (12"+) and big waste = 9/15 is a very strong U-shape sweep and it digs quite a hole.
I work a 5/35 with a 30oz lead core mallet after or instead of the 9/15. You can really get down to business in a hurry. Hard to push a big gouge and get much done, there's much better control with a big mallet. You can always choke up on the head for the tap-tap-tap thing.
I have a 2/30 but that's kind of the end game.

Smaller work: I still recommend a 5 sweep, 5/15 or so. I have a 5F/14 that can do a lot. With a 12oz Shopfox carver's mallet, nice combo.

Good, big gouges are not cheap. In use at 20 degrees, they take some tender loving care in edge management to keep them tuned up.

Now, for rough out when you don't have a big bandsaw. Make fret cuts and bash off the blocks.
Use a Stubai carver's adze (approx $140) for rough chopping/forming at the start. Use a Kestrel Tools elbow adze, they come in two sizes. . . you can haft your own blade. I have the Baby Sitka, it really is a "bandsaw on a stick."

Hope that helps. Any more Q, just ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Robson! I'll start with a No. 5, then. I mostly make furniture or small items and don't think I'll likely start carving statues any time soon, but thought it would be cool to be able to add some flourish to things. I've been collecting planes but have a good variety now so I'm sure my wife will be excited if I find a reason to keep needing more different ways to cut wood :no:
 

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You're welcome Gil. I don't have one of everything. Not needed. I own and use every tool I mention. Keeping them "carving sharp" has been a long journey.
For the past 18 months or so, I've been exploring the usefulness of the "crooked knives" which are used all over the world and common to the native carvers of the Pacific Northwest. Double bevels and a curve or sweep besides. Hafted ones are expensive. Kestrel and Lee Valley(Crescent Knife Works) will sell blades but the hafting is entirely up to you. North Bay Forge sells finished knives but I don't like the handle shapes. I have hafted 9 crooked knife blades with different sweeps. #10 is on the bench.
Building the Kestrel Baby Sitka elbow adze was just plain fun.

For furniture, a U-shape like an 8/7 would be good with the 5F/14. The 8/7 can rough out the shapes to be smoothed with the 5F/14. A 3F/8 or a 2F/10 are even flatter.

To add some confusion.
In the LPB, #1 is flat, usually double-bevelled carver's stop chisel. #2 is a skew. I can't remember how the left and right are lettered. #3 has a slight sweep to it.

OK, Pfeil thought that they had a better way of numbering!
To them, #1 is like the LPB. #1S is a skew. Pfeil #2 has the sweep of the LPB #3. So for the first 10-12 numbers, Pfeil is 1 sweep out of line with the old book.

So for me to recommend a #5, that's the Pfeil designation. #6 in the LPB.

You get what you pay for. Pfeil is good steel, holds an edge and sharpens to chrome green quite nicely. I've reground 1/2" Narex skews to make other carving tools, very good steel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What do you think of Crown? I have some Pfiel marking knife blades I bought and enjoy but my gift card is for Amazon and while Pfiel is on there via Woodcraft I'd have to pay shipping, while the comparably priced Crown gouges are on Prime and free to ship.
 

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I can't speak to Crown as I have none of them. Never heard of the name. Who are they and from where? Lee Valley has periods of free shipping = jump on that advantage.
I buy my gouges from open stock (NOT sets) from several vendors. Except for the recent exploration of crooked knives, I buy maybe 2 gouges per year.

Get one, say about a 5/15 or 5/20. You must have some sort of wood mallet. 1K/4K waterstone, leather strop on wood with chrome green.

Don't get into the bragging about hair-splitting sharp. That is ineffectual. I carve wood not hairs and fingers. I can put a really good edge on a new razor blade. You can too. There is no magic. This is a learned skill that I am willing to teach anyone.

There are some commercial websites that proffer sharpening info, they leave out all the critical "tricks" that make it work. They won't give away the farm but I will. You could watch me for an hour and never figure out, by yourself, why it turns out so well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is Crown: http://www.crownhandtools.ltd.uk/ , made in Sheffield, England. An example of one of their gouges would be
. I have some of their scrapers and their burnisher and they are nice. Mostly interested in them because my gift card is for Amazon.com

I'm not too worried about sharpening, I do all my plane irons by hand with a granite slab and wet/dry sandpaper and a leather strop, so other than the challenge of them being curved I think the adjustment should be easy enough.
 

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Thanks for the links. Site Security Certificate errors prevent me from seeing some content.
But,
The tools look good, the steels and the RC hardness. Key thing is to be able to buy from open stock, not sets. Sets try to be all things to all people and that never works well.

You have the edge management skill to do this = I expect the bevels to be 20 degrees for wood carving, not 25 like skews or 30 for woodworking chisels.
For gouges, you make a pull stroke from one wing tip to the next in each pass. Then begin with the recent wing tip and rotate back. With care, 5X on no less than 1K > 4K > hone should keep you happy.

Of interest to me alone, Crown is a name that never comes up in wood carving, even more uncommon than Stubai.
 

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I have a question about carving tools. what about the Auriou line? the same people that make the hand stitched rasps and floats and what nots.

I have heard mixed reviews on both Auriou and Pfiel. What I have heard is that some of Pfeil gouges have a less uniform hardness to the steel and when you hit a soft spot you will end up grinding off alot of your gouge to get back to the harder steel.

Then Auriou I have heard that since they have the tappered design your gouges will get narrower and narrower the more you sharpen them.. And that the company is on its way back from a bankruptsy or something of the sort.

I only have a few gouges, an old witherby #7/35 straight gouge and a shefield stamped V gouge So my personal experience with carving tools is little to none at best.
 

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Ariou is trying to rebuild a reputation, badly tarnished in the past.
I expect that their quality control is second to none to address that.
Consequently, there aren't many of their tools spread around the carving community. Not yet, anyway.
If you join the WoodcarvingIllustrated.com forums/message board, look for a France-based carver
called 'copeau.' He's up on these things.

Pfeil had a steel/hardening issue 7-10 years back (my 5/35 is one of them)
which has stuck to them like skunk. I have no complaints with any of the other
15-20 Pfeil gouges that I have. My 9/15 has to be the toughest edge of all.

Edge management: In theory, a gouge becomes shorter and the fish tails edges become narrower
with 50-100 years of careful, fine tune-ups. I can't be bothered to ponder that.
If my 5F/14 is now 1mm shorter and is now a 5F/13.935, I don't need to know.

In practice, you will rarely ever bury the gouge from wing tip to wing tip. I have finished texturing nearly 2 sqft of carving surface with #5 sweep. I'll bet I never used more than the middle 1/3 to 1/2 of the sweeps.
 
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