Using a Gouge
You can drive the gouge into the wood using a chisel hammer or mallet or use hand and arm pressure only. You can use them to pare cut, depending on the gouge type. The gouge can make shallow or deep cuts depending on the pressure applied, if you are using it to hollow, you would apply more pressure than if you were just using it to pare cut.
The non-dominant hand grips around where the steel connects to the handle to provide support and downwards pressure. The dominant hand grips the handle and is used to guide direction, the angle of presentation will determine if it is a deep or shallow cut. Similar to chisels, you want to be standing with your dominant foot forward to to allow you to lean into the work and use your body weight to apply force when pare cutting.
I purchased a #7 35mm Hirsch gouge from Highland Woodworking and was using it to scallop bowels in some spoons and bowels that I’ve been making while following along through Paul Sellers’ book “Woodworking I and II”. After a couple of bowels that I had carved, I fractured the tapered portion of the gouge – which makes me think that either I was being too ambitious with my cuts (especially with the chisel hammer I’d been using). I’ve purchased a replacement, and now I’m a bit scared about using a mallet to drive the gouge at all… and the process to carve a bowel takes MUCH longer. Is there a safe way to use a mallet with your gouge without damaging your tool?
It sounds as though you may be putting leverage inappropriately, it may have nothing to do with the chisel hammer but more with you levering or pressing the gouge one way or another. I suggest that you try to work more sensitively until you get used to the kind of pressures you can apply to a gouge.
That sounds like a really good plan! Thanks for the feedback, Izzy!