Review: Woodcut bowl gouges
On one of my videos I explained why I liked the Woodcut range of bowl gouges. The following is the review I wrote some years ago, not long after I started using the very first one I bought. You can see the original video here.
My new Woodcut 13mm Bowl Gouge with replaceable tip has become my ‘go to’ tool. I think most woodturners would have a ‘go to’ tool; it’s that tool you reach for rather than any other of the same size and style you might have. It’s your favourite and it is your favourite often for reasons that you might not be able to explain. I have a number of bowl gouges to choose from but since the Woodcut was introduced to my arsenal I have found it was the one I was deferring to. For me this suggests qualities I needed to clarify, in my own mind at least.
Woodcut have a range of bowl and spindle gouges that have replaceable tips which means that only 50mm (in the case of this 13mm gouge) of the tool has the bowl or spindle gouge profile. The rest of the shaft is a solid section of steel rather than the flute running a significant distance down it. And this is where the advantages lie. Having a solid shaft means the tool has a more positive feel to it and chatters or vibrates less when the tool, for example, is hanging a long way over the tool rest. This is a distinct advantage, as I prefer to use the smallest tool that I can get away with on any job so instead of a using a 19mm bowl gouge I can now use a 13mm gouge. Even when the tool isn’t hanging over the tool rest a long way the Woodcut gouge feels better to use. Its solidness means any irregularities in the timber being turned have less impact and I felt I had more control over the timber.
Having a solid shaft means the tool has a more positive feel to it and chatters or vibrates less.
The tips are easily replaced. The shaft has a spigot which slots into a hole of the same size in the tip. ‘Locktite’ or any CA glue will hold the new tip in place. To get the old tip off heat needs be applied to the join, which effectively loosens the existing glue. New tips can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of a new tool and simply glued onto the existing shaft. Another advantage is that the handle continues to be used and there is none of the effort that is otherwise needed to change handles from the old tool to the new.
All of these qualities would amount to little if the steel used in the tips was inferior to that used in other tools I use. Inferior steel means more time spent sharpening. I was, therefore, further impressed with the Woodcut when I found I was sharpening it significantly less than other bowl gouges I own. Woodcut claim their tips have a longer life and I would have to agree with this claim based on a comparison with the other brands I use. Its worth noting at this point that much of my testing was done on red gum, a reasonably hard timber.
Another claim Woodcut makes is that the tool maintains constant leverage at all times which makes sense because the shaft is not being ground away over time as one sharpens the tool.
These replaceable tip gouges can be bought handled or unhandled with the usual price difference between the two. Woodcut’s claim is that the initial cost of the complete tool is lower than comparable tools, a claim I have not investigated. However, the price of the 13mm bowl gouge is $70 for an unhandled tool. My gouge came with a handle, which is generous in length but narrower than I like. In future I would much prefer to put my own handles on but this might boil down to personal preference.