A sweep gouge chisel is a woodworking tool with a curved blade perfect for carving and shaping wood. Whether you are a woodworker, artist, or just someone fascinated by hand tools, sweep gouge chisels are a versatile tool worth exploring. With their different sizes and unique curves, they offer a variety of cutting styles and techniques. This article will look at gouges and explore their uses, features, and benefits. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, get ready to learn more about these fascinating tools. Let us get started!
Difference between a sweep gouge and straight gouge
Chisels and skew chisels have straight cutting edges. Chisels have a curved cutting edge that is the arc of a circle. Straight- edge chisels can have a bevel on one or both sides. Bevels are angles on the front of the chisel. They help pull the tool into or out of a piece of wood. A chisel with a double bevel works with both sides up, and the cutting edge does not pull in or out.
A single bevel chisel will pull the edge into a workpiece if the bevel is up and push it out of the wood if the bevel is down. Single-beveled wood carving chisels are good for woodworking. Many carvers use double-beveled chisels because they do not dig into the wood.
You do not need a lot of chisels. Focus on buying a 1/4″, 3/8th”, 1/2″, 3/4″, and it has to hold an edge well. Try keeping varied grades in the workshop. Glue chisels that are more affordable do not sharpen well.
If you sharpen items like cans, you will throw away the chisel. You can hardly spend more than 10-15 on these. Intermediate chisels need regular sharpening and are for rough work. Wood chisels are for joinery work, and you should keep them razor sharp.
Brands like Pfiel, Two Cherries, Narex, and Sorby are worth considering. They make high-quality chisels. Gouges are for carving and come in a lot of flavors. They can be confusing since manufacturers are not consistent. The manufacturers who have become popular are Pfeil and Two Cherries. When using carving gouges, use two numbers. These are discussed later in this article.
Types of gouge chisels
The Straight Gouge
They make straight cuts, and have a thin tip of the blade and two bevels sometimes. That makes it easier to sink into the wood. They are for surface polishing or raising layers of wood. It has a concave blade to remove wood without causing splintering. The depth of the curve or sweep determines the depth-of-cut
The Bent Gouge
Bent Gouges are for concave surfaces and come in two variations. That is the long bend and short bend. The number of sweeps on the bent gouge is the same as for the straight gouges. The Spoon Gouges cut a concave surface with a tighter radius than the long bent gouges can handle.
The Spoon Gouge
A spoon gouge makes concave cuts in tight areas. The tool end looks like a spoon because it has a short curve at the end of the blade. The shape of this tool raises the handle angle to almost 90°. This position makes a right-angle cut possible.
The Fishtail Gouge
A fishtail is called a fishtail spade gouge, a type of chisel with a flared blade that looks like the tail of a fish. It is for light wood finishing, lettering, skimming, and modeling. It is for cleaning out corners and undercutting when the side clearance is limited.
The Back Bent Gouge
The back-bent gouge has a curve of the sweep gouge reversed. That is why the cutting edge is convex instead of concave. This tool is for carving or cleaning out the underside of a carving. The back bent gouge is used in relief carving to undercut where there is a restricted area to work in.
The Straight Chisel
Straight chisels are for smooth-out cuts. They have a skew edge style ground at a 23-degree angle. When carving in tight corners, you might use a straight chisel. It requires final sharpening before its first use and has an overall length of 220mm.
The Skew Chisel
Skew chisels are for smoothing and cleaning the corners of dovetails. If you want precise paring and finishing of multiple types of wood joinery, you can as well use it. These chisels are also suitable for finishing end grain.
These have a triangle-shaped tip and come in multiple versions, but the frequent ones. The standard ones range from 45º to 90º.
What do gauge numbers mean
The first number tells you the shape or the sweep. That is how shallow or deep the curve is. The second number tells you the size of the cut. That is how far away the two points are. If there is a cut 3/10, 5/10, and 8/10 gouge will be made, the distance from edge to edge remains the same. As the first number increases, the scoop between them gets deeper.
The gouges cut a cavity 10 millimeters wide but either 3, 5, or 8 millimeters deep. As the first number goes up, the sweeps get more curved to the extent that they will not be curved anymore. There are different sweeps of each different size gouge.
As you get close to #11, the profile becomes V-shaped, and you can start referring to them by the angle of the V. The tighter or narrower the V angle. Harder it is to cut through the wood. The tool’s cutting edge has an inside dimension smaller than the outside dimension. The second number is easy. It tells you how far apart or how wide the cut will be in millimeters.
How do you use gouges?
Drive the gouge into the wood using a chisel hammer or mallet. You are allowed to use hand and arm pressure only. Use them to pare cut, depending on the gouge type. The pressure applied determines if the gouge can make shallow or deep cuts. When using it to hollow, apply more pressure than using it to pare cut.
Choosing a gouge chisel
Look at the quality of the steel when buying wood carving tools like carving gouges. A carving gouge will get very sharp and hold the edge for a long time and perform better. Consider the shape and comfort of the handle.
The Swiss Made Pfeil wood carving gouges have flat faces on the handle. They give a good grip and prevent the gouge from rolling off your workbench. Carving gouges come in a variety of sizes, separated by different variables. Focus on the size number (width in millimeters) and Sweep (curvature).
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