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Thread: A Gouge Experiment

  1. #1
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    A Gouge Experiment

    I decided a bit ago that it was time to replace the 5/8" bowl gouge. 90% of my turning tools are by Hamlet, which I like a lot. Sharpen well, and stay sharp even turning bodark. I actually settled on them after trying Sorby, Crown, and Henry Taylor. All good tools no doubt. Well, my regular supplier was out of 5/8" Hamlets so I decided to experiment with a lower dollar tool. I remember some folks here talking about Benjamin's best tools and decided why not try one. So, I ordered the 5/8" bowl gouge. I even ordered it with the extra long handle. OK. Got here fine and on time. Wheee!!! New toy!!!! First discovery was it was so light I had to make sure it was in my hand. Second was the diameter. They seem to measure their sizes on the outside diameter, not the flute. So basically it's the same size as my Hamlet 1/2" gouge. But on the plus side the weight of the gouge could have advantages in some cases. It does cut fairly well. Just have to get used to the weight of it I suppose. But I think I will get another Hamlet as soon as they are back in stock. Anyway, after all the rambling it simply boils down to you get what you pay for. I paid less than half of what I pay for a 5/8" Hamlet and get less than half a 5/8" Hamlet. Oh, well. Here endeth the lesson such as it is.

  2. #2
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    The sizing of some of the gouges was a bit of a puzzle to me as well.. but I eventually found this description somewhere:

    "US manufacturers measure the diameter of the tool. The Euro manufacturers measure the width of the flute."

    So if you buy ~any~ US manufactured gouge they'll be ~really close~ to the same size as the Benjamins gouge.
    Love thy neighbor, yet pull down not thy hedge.

  3. #3
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    That is one fact to keep in mind next time I decide to experiment again. I mean it's alright just not by any means what I am used to. But I will use it here and there.

  4. #4
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    Dave, do yourself a favor next time you're in an experimenting mood and just buy a Thompson gouge. You can thank me later.

    Seriously, there are no gouges that hold a candle to Doug Thompson's gouges at anywhere near the same price. I've used (and in some cases still own) Sorby, Benjamin's Best, Crown, Hamlet, Henry Taylor, Harbor Freight, and probably a few others I can't think of right now. Hands down, no questions asked, Thompsons are the best. It's all in the metal he uses. They sharpen very well, and hold an edge much longer than anything else I've used. And they're less expensive than some of the brands I just listed, because you buy them directly from the guy who makes them: Doug Thompson. All the other brands have one, two, three, or more middlemen getting their cut of the pie. The only middleman with Doug's tools is the postal worker who delivers it to your door, lol. There might be one or two brands out there with comparable steel, but they cost 3 or 4 times as much as Thompson tools. (We're talking $100+ for a simple gouge.) All of his tools come without a handle, so you'll have to make or buy one, but it's well worth it. (BTW, bodark makes great tool handles.)

    Try one...I'm pretty certain you'll be hooked.

    http://thompsonlathetools.com/
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    I'll echo Vaughn's recommendation for Thompson tools. I have a couple of Jerry Glaser's gouges that are still going strong after many years, but since Jerry passed, almost all of my lathe tools have come from Doug Thompson and they are the absolute best. He makes a great handle too. Highly recommended.

  6. #6
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    I went to a turning demonstration tonight, and the demonstrator was using a Hamlet gouge. I'd never heard of it before, and nw I come herre and you're talking about it. He was full of praise for the quality of the Hamlet. He was also using a Thompson gouge. Anyway, I have a lot of Benjamin's Best tools, because I can afford them. I'm probably not experienced enough yet to give a detailed analysis, but they work for me, and seem to hold an edge a reasonable time. I've gone to the Penn State store in Philly a couple of times, and raided their bargain bin for $5 and $10 tools. They are cheap enough that if I wish, I can experiment with different grinds without worrying about messing up $100 worth of tool.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  7. #7
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    I've heard of Thompson tools before, but never explored them. I'm gonna take a look at them. Roger, I used for my first year or so some gouges and what from Highland called Bodger tools. They worked. Good enough to convince me to pursue turning. So use what you can get and are comfortable. There's lot's of tools and gadgets I would like to have in my shop but can't afford or simply sometimes can't justify the expense of them. I'll eat beans and tortillas to get something if I can justify the expense of it. Other than the fact I do like beans and tortillas. We all do what we can do. But, I won't go in debt with credit cards or whatever for it. uhuh

  8. #8
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    By far, the most disappointing for me is Taylor. At nearly $100.00 per pop I'm glad I have wasted money on only one. And that was with a gift certificate. Still a disappointment. The gouge seems to get dull before the sharpening wheel even stops turning. Some of my favorites are really ancient no-names, or just 'cast steel' or Buck Brothers cast steel I picked up at an estate sale. I have others which are good but cannot compare to the oldies.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hoskins View Post
    I've heard of Thompson tools before, but never explored them. I'm gonna take a look at them...
    You'll be glad you did. There's a reason why virtually all of the top turners buy Doug's tools.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  10. #10
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    My limited experience with Thompson versus Benjamin's Best is that the Thompson lasts 2-3 times longer between sharpening. Closer to 3x or maybe a bit better for roughing and closer to 2x for finish cuts (but I like my gouge pretty well honed for finishing) That's on a two gouges of each comparison so not exactly a large study but mirrors most other folks experience.
    Love thy neighbor, yet pull down not thy hedge.

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