Buying a Gouge
Paul recommends the Ashley Iles No7 37mm straight gouge to use in spoon and bowl carving. He also uses and recommends Pfeil and Hirsch in similar size and sweep, however these brands are not always in stock.
We found the Stubai 40mm No7 to be in stock from Tiranti which is just as good as the other brands.
You can use any size between 25-40mm in width and smaller ones can be adapted for other work. The type of handle, plastic, wooden or shaped, will be down to personal preference. Paul advises a No 7 sweep, which describes the curve. You want the bevel on the bottom or outside (out-cannel) rather than the top or inside (in-cannel). The quality of the steel is important for edge retention, that is why it is advisable to buy a well known brand which have been tried and tested.
🇬🇧 We purchased this gouge. We have found it in stock on here for £69.99 (inc VAT)* with £3.99 delivery
🇺🇸 If you are ordering from the US, Paul recommends this Hirsch No7 from Highland Woodworking for $56.99*
Update May 2020: If the gouges we have linked to are out of stock, try searching for the other brands Paul recommends such as Ashley Iles, Pfeil and Hirsch in similar size and sweep.
*Prices checked October 2022
To read more on this tool, we recommend the following from Paul’s blog:
Found A Professional Gouge That Won’t Gouge You
Ashley Iles Can’t Keep Stock Levels For #7- 36mm Gouge
Spoons With Gouge, AX, Knife Or Lathe
Spoon Making- Carving Out The Bowl
Restoring Woodworking Gouges: Project 2 Part 1
I’m curious if you have any experience with a brand of gouge called “Stryi”. They are made in Ukraine and seem to be more reasonably priced than a lot of other chisel brands. there is very limited information online about them but the makers have a youtube channel where they demonstrate their tools (and also badmouth other tool brands). I know it’s usually “you get what you pay for” but curious if you had any opinion.
I have passed your question on to Paul and below is his answer:
In today’s world is it a low risk factor to buy a tool and not be able to return it should it not be equal to the task. Although i’ve never heard of the brand, in my view it seems worth buying to see if the quality matches up to their badmouthing.
Hello, I live in Canada and I found and ordered the Stubai gouge at a Canadian site here:
I have not affiiiaction with the company.
Could you add a link for Canadian location thanks in advance.
I wonder why you advise a straight gouge in stead of a bent one. Is that because you use a set-up clamping the spoon blank into a vise, then gouge out the concave of the spoon bowl using a mallet and gouge?
I find vintage bent outcannal gouges, some vintage spoongouges or even the 70mm swan neck gouge made by the welsh blacksmith Nic Westermann much better suited for making spoons, as long as the bevel has had a little bit of additional tuning done as to make sure the gouge – by nature of how it is tuned – digs in but immediately wants to curve back out upwards. In straight gouges you really can’t do this tuning, because the gouge is set up to dig in in relatively straight downwards motion.
Another way to go about spoon carving is using either a TWCA-cam or a (best buy compound curve) hookknife. These can be used holding object in hand or clamping it in a wooden vise.
More info to the alternative appriaches and their result can be on the fb group “spoon carving, green woordworking and sloyd”.
Bent gouges are much less direct and are used more in sculpting-type carving. It’s the bevel of the straight gouge that works so well for scalloping cuts. The spoon bowl is such a large radius, the straight gouge is so very positive.