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Why not a carbide bowl gouge?

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My wife and I were talking last night, as I sat at the dining room table sharpening my carbide inserts, about traditional HSS and Carbides. It was just a random discussion, her asking my why I used the carbides over traditional HSS. So I gave her the rundown (I'm not providing details because this is NOT a discussion about HSS vs Carbide) and she asked me a question afterwards that kinda floored me. Why not have a carbide bowl gouge? Since I know next to nothing about how carbide tips are made, I figured I'd ask the pros here. We know carbide inserts can be sharpened (if it can really be called that), so why not have an actual bowl gouge, with wings and bevel and all the makings of a bowl gouge, just outta carbide? Is it impossible? There are carbide drill bits, carbide saw blades, and various other carbide tools, so why not make traditional tools, just using carbide?

Again, just idle thoughts, and not meant to be a debate on HSS vs Carbides...
 

Roger Wiegand

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I suspect its not strong enough (ie too brittle) for the stresses involved, With the exception of some solid carbide spiral router bits every carbide tool I know of uses a carbide cutter backed with a steel support. You could, perhaps, make a carbide edged bowl gouge by putting a carbide insert into the flute of a steel gouge so the last protruding millimeter was carbide. That would take some pretty fancy machining, I expect. Are you ready for a $500 bowl gouge? I bet they would sell.
 
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I have a carbide gouge. It consists of a moulded insert like a liner fixed in a steel shaft. It’s a proper bowl gouge shape, with a flute of about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. They were sold in the UK a good few years back and I think they were claimed to be capable of turning a bowl at 10000 rpm. I haven’t heard of any on the market now. I could never get it sharp enough to use. Possibly a different grade of carbide would work better. It cost a lot less than $500!
 
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I have a carbide gouge. It consists of a moulded insert like a liner fixed in a steel shaft. It’s a proper bowl gouge shape, with a flute of about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. They were sold in the UK a good few years back and I think they were claimed to be capable of turning a bowl at 10000 rpm. I haven’t heard of any on the market now. I could never get it sharp enough to use. Possibly a different grade of carbide would work better. It cost a lot less than $500!
Interesting... Just for curiosities sake, can you post a picture? Any idea if they're still available?
 
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This is the gouge I mentioned. It looks similar to the one that Richard linked to. I must try again with it. The last time I told myself that, it was still useless.
 

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Hunter tools have a cup shape to the carbide and the tools are designed with the equivalent of a bevel. They can be used as a bowl gouge. I've only tried it seriously once and was not overly impressed, but it could be lack of experience. John Lucas has more experience with this and will hopefully chime in.
 
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Hunter tools have a cup shape to the carbide and the tools are designed with the equivalent of a bevel. They can be used as a bowl gouge. I've only tried it seriously once and was not overly impressed, but it could be lack of experience. John Lucas has more experience with this and will hopefully chime in.
I've been experimenting myself with the Hunter tools...an Osprey, a Viceroy, and the Hercules. There is a bit more to using them than a regular carbide scraper. I'm kinda digging 'em...
 

john lucas

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Try the Hunter Hercules. The nose angle is the same as a bowl.gouge and it makes a fabulous push cut. Used as a scraper it wastes away wood rapidly. Youncan shear scrape with it even on the inside of a bowl. Go to YouTube and type in john60lucas/Hunter. You will.find my video.
 
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Hmm, if I bought a carbide gouge, I would have a good reason to buy a 1200 grit diamond wheel for my Tormek.... Personally, I would be skeptical of anything from Penn State. Kind of like Harbor Freight, they do work, but not the highest quality.

robo hippy
 
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I agree with Robo.. PSI is not the greatest stuff.. although I must say to start with, they are better than the cheapo junk (at least, the Benjamins Best branded ones).. and very affordable when you need (as in like REALLY need) to buy a bunch of tools (I.E. replacing the flimsy , cheapie starter tool sets from harbor freight or somewhere) .. but now that I have a couple bowl gouges and DECENT skews that hold an edge (at least for a while) I can focus on saving up for quality tools (My next one is going to be an ellsworth 5/8 gouge) one at a time... when budget permits.. and when I replace one of the PSI tools with a GOOD tool, then I can park the old one for a backup, or to grind some special shape I might need at the time, etc..
 
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I have not used one of the Hunter tools with a cupped cutter, but I have a Hunter #1 cup cutter for my Jamieson hollowing rig, and I have several shop made tools that use flat top carbide inserts. Why no carbide gouge? IMO carbide doesnt get sharp enough for finish cuts. Yes, I have tested the #1 cutter on outside surfaces to see what it can do, and when new it cuts pretty nice, and Im sure the Hunter cupped tools cut nice for a while, but even new they dont leave a surface as nice as a freshly sharpened hss gouge.

I also see some real problems resharpening a carbide gouge, as diamond is required. It would take a while to do it by hand, and over time the bevel will ne With the price of carbide, it would be a tip only, perhaps similar to the m2 tips Woodcut sells.

A carbide gouge would be a solution in search of a problem IMO.
 
Joined
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I use HSS steel gouges mostly now. However, I own some Easy Wood and 1 Hunter carbides. There are times that I just use them because they work better for me (maybe because I learned to turn with carbide tools before I wanted to learn to sharpen). However, I did invest in 2 diamond wheels for my Tormek and the gouge jig comes with the jig to sharpen at least the round carbide inserts from Easy Wood; not the carbide inserts from Hunter though. I invested in the 600 grit diamond wheel first and that really does a great job on all my tools, both HSS and the carbide I can sharpen. I think a 1200 grit wheel would be overkill (but maybe Reed was not completely serious.

I would assume that you could sharpen a carbide gouge with the Tormek gouge jig on the 600 grit diamond wheel, but I'm not sure I see the need for a solid carbide gouge. Plus, the referenced gouge was really meant just for pens, which is Penn State's focus most of the time, it seems.
 
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The Hunter carbides are no different than other woodturning tools in that you have to know how to use them as they can be used in many various ways. They are not a replacement for any of my tools they are an addition to my turning arsenal. For me as far as being sharp if I used a Hunter in the bevel rubbing orientation just to take that last thinner than a hair finish cut I don't know if I could ever wear out that cutter. You know that fluff that almost floats when cut, they are capable of that cut. They are cutters not scrapers and because of that you need to know the mechanics of using them. The same as you gouges ABC Anchor, Bevel and Cut. Now the tool mentioned above used in a hollowing system is slanted down and approaches the wood in a less than 90 degree attitude that is meant for cutting in a non bevel rubbing formation. Any torque is captured by the system and the angle is kept in place. John Lucas just didn't luck into using the Hunters the way he does, his many years of turning and know what cutting edges do is what allows him to do what he does with the Hunters. Anyone can do it but it takes practice, practice, practice and that will give you more great tools for your arsenal.
 
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Well, first off, I was totally serious about a 1200 grit diamond wheel for a carbide turning tool. The thing with the modern 'micro' or 'nano' grained carbide inserts is that you can get them a lot sharper than the older standard carbides like you used to find on the circular saw blades. For a carbide gouge to be successful, it would have to be the micro grained carbide. For those that use the carbide scrapers, it seems that the consensus is that you can sharpen them up okay, but they never get back to that factory edge. Don't know, and haven't tried. I know John Lucas did some micro photographs of his attempts to resharpen some carbide cutters, both cupped and flat ones. The cupped ones seemed to chip if I remember correctly, maybe he could post those pictures again..... I have no clue as to how fine of a grit would be needed to get them back to factory quality, but probably finer than what is generally available to most of us. I would guess we would need some thing like 3000 to 10,000 grit diamond plate. No clue as to what the industry uses. Maybe there could be a use for a wheel for the Tormek with a 1200 grit diamond on the wheel part and one side, and a 6000 grit on the other flat side..... Can't be used on the slow speed grinders though....

Now, this has me wondering how stellite and tangung would work. Stellite is the cutting material on the Woodcut coring system, and tantung is what is used on the Big Ugly tool. Both have very long lasting cutting edges, and can be sharpened on standard grinding wheels. I would expect a tantung piece, that was fluted, would cost in the range of $100 or so. When I bought 1 by 3 by 1/8 inch pieces of the tantung, I got best price if I bought 100 pieces. Buying one piece of tantung that was cut in a fluted shape would be very expensive.... It would also need to be supported by metal , totally on the outside parts of the shape because it is so brittle. Probably just not cost effective. Maybe some day, I will make a skew chisel out of the tantung, and sandwich it between 2 pieces of softer sheet stock. Just out of curiosity...

For sure, the carbide flat cutters are scrapers, though you can take some of them and put them up on edge for a better shear/slicing cut. I would think that the Hunter carbide cups could, and should only be used for bevel rub supported cuts. If they were held flat, I would thing they would be very catch prone if you tried to use them as a scraper. Think the old ring tools. The ones that were used flat like scrapers had chip limiters so you couldn't take off too much in one pass, which is most likely a safety thing. Not sure if the Hunter tools can be used for both push and pull cuts inside hollow forms, but can see where that might come in handy...

robo hippy
 

john lucas

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Most of the Hunter carbides are mounted tilting.down so they dont catch and they cut instead of scrape. This is why they hold an edge longer than flat carbide. Scraping.cuts dull an edge.faster than a cutting edge.
 
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The Easy Wood cutters can be sharpened with Altus Tormek 600 grit diamond wheel. I have gotten great results but can’t really tell if the cutters are as sharp as from the factory, but still very sharp. They don’t seem to last as long as the edge from the factory but the bevel looks just about like the bevel out of the bag. There is, of course, a limit to how many times they can be sharpened but I think at least 3 times before the cutter is reduced enough in size that it doesn’t sit out quite far enough. Just to be clear the Tormek jig allows the bevel to be ground all the way around on the round cutters. The radius cutters are hard to sharpen and the flat square cutters can be sharpened but I don’t own any of those. I don’t believe there is a good way to sharpen the diamond shaped cutters. Don’t know about the Hunter cutters.
 

john lucas

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I tried al kinds of ways to sharpen the Hunter cutters and did not succeed. You should only sharpen the top of flat cutters but you wanted to grind the bevel you can on CBN wheels.
 
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Joe, if you take a close look at the Hunter Osprey, you'll see that it mimics the shape of a bowl gouge with the carbide insert acting as the edge of the gouge. Cuts and allows using the bevel to control the cut. Nice weapon to have when you run into wood found on a beach or similar. Just isn't quite sharp enough to take over from my normal gouge.
 
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One of those Hunter carbides is on my list to try, as is a Doug Thompson 1/2" bowl gouge.
Recommend you try the 5/8” bowl gouge Doug Thompson makes for Lyle Jamieson (only available on Lyle’s website). It is a parabolic flute vs V or U flutes of Doug’s other gouges. Put an Ellsworth grind on it and follow his methods for bowls and see what you think.
 

john lucas

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I'm back home at my computer now and can post links to videos. Here is the video I did of the Hunter Hercules. All of his tools can be used as bevel rubbing tools although some are a little more challenging. The angle of the Osprey for example makes it really good for cutting with the tool flat or shear scraping. not as easy to use as a bevel rubbing tool as the Hercules.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzrLN8SQ8ms&ab_channel=john60lucas
 
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Recommend you try the 5/8” bowl gouge Doug Thompson makes for Lyle Jamieson (only available on Lyle’s website). It is a parabolic flute vs V or U flutes of Doug’s other gouges. Put an Ellsworth grind on it and follow his methods for bowls and see what you think.
Doug-I just put it on my list. I'm sure I will get one, but I have spent thousands this year outfitting my shop for turning, and maybe need to slow down temporarily.

I also just watched John's video on the Hunter Hercules, and am amazed by its versatility and seeming ease of use. I definitely plan to get one of those, too, though I am concerned about the carbide cutters. I can sharpen my regular carbides on a 150/600 diamond plate with lapping fluid and they're back in action, but not sure if one can sharpen the Hunter cutters? If not, about how long do they last? At about 20 bucks a pop, I would need to get some serious use out of one. Any thoughts on that?
 
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I also just watched John's video on the Hunter Hercules, and am amazed by its versatility and seeming ease of use. I definitely plan to get one of those, too, though I am concerned about the carbide cutters. I can sharpen my regular carbides on a 150/600 diamond plate with lapping fluid and they're back in action, but not sure if one can sharpen the Hunter cutters? If not, about how long do they last? At about 20 bucks a pop, I would need to get some serious use out of one. Any thoughts on that?
Hunter cutters remain sharp for a very long time. There is no comparison to the relatively short interval in which the flat-top carbide cutters lose their edge. I have used Hunter tools extensively for years and have very rarely had to replace a cutter. They are far more economical than the flat ones.
 
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I also just watched John's video on the Hunter Hercules, and am amazed by its versatility and seeming ease of use. I definitely plan to get one of those, too, though I am concerned about the carbide cutters. I can sharpen my regular carbides on a 150/600 diamond plate with lapping fluid and they're back in action, but not sure if one can sharpen the Hunter cutters? If not, about how long do they last? At about 20 bucks a pop, I would need to get some serious use out of one. Any thoughts on that?
Not as used with Hunter tools with a true bevel riding cut as John demos. As mentioned I have a #1 for my Jamieson hollowing rig. I switched back to hss cutters after comparing them for a while. Part of it was cost vs life of the edge, and part due to the hss scraper is more flexible is how it can be used. I did try some #1 cupped cutters from AZ Carbide. The seemed to last as well as the Hunter for ~ 1/2 the price. A bevel riding cut would probably not be as hard on the edge as a scraping cut. The cutters work well for hollowing when the cut is on the side, its similar to a bevel riding cut. They require a lot of adjustment during hollowing to get them on the sweet spot. Overall I make better time with hss.

I saw a reply from @john lucas somewhere and he said he never found a successful method for resharpening cupped cutters
 

john lucas

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yes the cutters last a long time. I pulled a Hunter cutter off one time because it was really old and I thought it might not be cutting as well because the edge looked chipped. Under high magnification you could see that the chipped edge was actually sharp much like a knapped edge arrow head. The fractures have a curved gullet that is still pretty sharp. Now this was a cutter that was 2 years old and had been used a lot. A new cutter did cut easier but not necessarily any cleaner. Amazing cutters.
 
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John gave you the low down on Hunter cutters, but I will add my 2 cents. They last me maybe 4 to 5 years but I do not use them as extensively as John does. Really important to loosen screw ,rotate and clean after each use on green wood. That small screw can easily get stuck DAMHIK. Oh and do clean out the recess before trying to loosen and I have the same excuse.
 
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John gave you the low down on Hunter cutters, but I will add my 2 cents. They last me maybe 4 to 5 years but I do not use them as extensively as John does. Really important to loosen screw ,rotate and clean after each use on green wood. That small screw can easily get stuck DAMHIK. Oh and do clean out the recess before trying to loosen and I have the same excuse.
Funny, Gerald-I over-tightened the screw on my regular carbide cutter and hopelessly rounded the Allen recess! But you guys have me sold on the Hunter carbides-cutter longevity was my only real concern.
 
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