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Spindle or Detail gouge? 1/2" or 3/8"?

1878 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  PBWilson1970
I've been making attempts to turn bud vases, tool handles, candlesticks and stuff like that and would like to get away from the carbide tools I've been using. I'd also like to start making end grain boxes.

Most of the pieces I've turned have been under 10" long and none have extremely fine or fancy details (coves and beads) like you might see on a small finial.

I'm wondering about which tool to buy. I've got it narrowed down to a few:

Oneway 1/2" Mastercut spindle gouge (to be used with the Oneway handle I've already got)
Thompson Spindle Gouge (1/2" or 3/8")
Thompson Detail Gouge (1/2" or 3/8")

I'd probably start off sharpening them to a 40 degree angle and try 35 or 30 once I get the feel for the tool.

I guess I'm looking for help in deciding the size (1/2" or 3/8") and the design (Spindle or Detail). Any help would be greatly appreciated. None of these tools are inexpensive so I'd like to buy once. I have tools by Thompson and Oneway and like both of them a great deal.
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I'm partial to Thompson's 1/2" Deep Flute Spindle Gouge.
I agree with the Dane. Thompson tools are the best by far. Caution, they come unhandled. You can make your own handle, which is even better. For the fine detail work you described, I would recommend a 3/8 spindle gouge. If you are in doubt, call Thompson and talk to Doug.
Good choice to move away from carbide to hss. It will be a learning curve, sharpening and using. For using, I highly recommend watching Mark Silay Wood Slicing series of vids on youtube. He also covers his no jig sharpening that I do not do.

As for size, you definitely want to have a 3/8" shaft size (euro 1/4") for detail work. A detail gouge allows further extension off the tool rest, and with the "lower sides" can drop into deep grooves between features a little better, if the heel is ground back. While I have a Thompson bowl gouge, I like m42 steel a bit better - I have some Crown Razor tools. The m42 takes a finer edge and lasts as long in the sharp range as Thompson. Thompson's steel will hold an edge that will cut a bit longer, as during bowl roughing. Nothing wrong with Thompson tools tho.
I am little different and prefer both 3/8" & 1/2" spindle gouges so recommend both. Never owned a detail gouge but owners swear by them. Don't own Thompson spindle gouges love my bowl gouges so no problem recommending them. I turned my own handles for them, so not big deal for me.

Would not have a problem recommending Packard brand HSS tools made by Hamlet, same address as Henry Taylor in UK. If buy two of those get 10% off. That used to be true for other brands too but not listed in catalog or on line that I see. Would not hurt to ask! Craft Supplies was same way once but would ask when ordering.

Same goes for Crown & Sorby not big fan of HT Diamic & Kryo tools anymore.

Need to replace my 3/8" & 1/2" spindle gouges plus 1/2" skew soon and thinking bout buying that Packard brand.

Can ask for free catalog if don't already have one.
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Thanks for the input.

I think I'm leaning towards a 3/8" tool. It's not like I'll be hogging off tons of material making bed posts and the smaller size will help me get into finer details.

I'm still up in the air between a regular spindle gouge and a detail gouge. I'm thinking that the detail gouge with more steel on the underside will be stiffer, but is there any other aspect that would make it more desirable or is there a drawback that I can't see?
I have the Thompson 3/8 detail spindle gouge and like it a lot.
As OSU55 pointed out the low wings allow you to get into tighter areas.
I use my spindle roughing gouge for the work as long as I can. I use the detail spindle gouge mainly for coves; for beads I typically use my skew.
Either the standard or detail spindle gouge should serve you well once you have some practice time in.
If do a lot of spindle turning won't matter whether get a deep flute, detail, or regular gouge. Once get used to a new tool good to go!

Cannot say enough about getting both 3/8" & 1/2" size gouges especially for the items you say want to turn. Besides those sizes gouges my different size & style roughing gouges, and skews & parting tools!

Anyway buy what you can afford and good luck with it!
I have thompson 1/2 and 3/8 spindle, and same in detail. Of the 4, my favorite is the 1/2 spindle. It gives me more control. However, for detailed, deep, narrowly-spaced features, the others are needed. I find the 3/8 spindle gouge can have quite a bit of vibration to it when the curve is not yet smooth or if you take too big a bite. I always start with the 1/2 and move down when needed. The detailed gouges can be quite aggressive on the point. But I am a novice at this. So, your results may be different/better.
Mike Waldt just posted this video today and it reminded me of your question.
It is just one opinion but he does discuss the why.
I use a detail gouge and also sharpen it to 30°.

Thanks for the link to that video. It illustrated very clearly how the different angles affect your ability to get into tight areas. We really live in a good time with people so willing to share their experiences on youtube and here as well. Thanks to everyone who responded and gave me things to think about.
After reading this thread over and over, googling countless times and sitting down and watching enough Youtube videos to develop bed sores, I pulled the trigger on a Thompson 3/8" Detail gouge.

(It also led me to but a 180 grit CBN wheel, new handle for the gouge and a few other things that I "needed.")

Sometimes having too many choices can cause shopping paralysis!

Thanks for the help and perspectives. It really gave me lots to think about.
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