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NCLuthierWyatt

Scroll Gouges

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Hi,

Any recommendations on what brand or specific set of gouges/chisels for scroll carving on violins, violas, and cellos you like best. My current set of gouges are all the incorrect sweep and it's getting a little tiresome. I know herdim, dastra, and stubai offer complete sets or individual gouges meant for violin scroll carving but I wasn't sure which to pick up for school this fall at the VMSA. I'm building about a violin every 3 months at home right now so i'm not too concerned about price as I know they'll get used pretty routinely. Hope everyone is staying safe and keeping busy during these trying times:)

Thank you!

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I have bought Addis gouges off of Ebay and found them to work very well; when reground and shaped the way I want them.  I use the flattest gouges - #3.  Maybe 1/2, 3/8 and 1/4 inch for general carving then an 1/8" #3 and #8 for the last turn and the comma.  

I had some Japanese gouges custom made, and they are very nice.  but I still prefer my Addis gouges.  They just work.  Taylor are nice too.  Old Sheffield in general seems to be good steel.

You have to search and watch for them to get what you want, but you should be able to buy them for $35 (ish) each.

 

Good luck!

Dorian

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15 minutes ago, barnesviolins said:

I have bought Addis gouges off of Ebay and found them to work very well; when reground and shaped the way I want them.  I use the flattest gouges - #3.  Maybe 1/2, 3/8 and 1/4 inch for general carving then an 1/8" #3 and #8 for the last turn and the comma.  

I had some Japanese gouges custom made, and they are very nice.  but I still prefer my Addis gouges.  They just work.  Taylor are nice too.  Old Sheffield in general seems to be good steel.

You have to search and watch for them to get what you want, but you should be able to buy them for $35 (ish) each.

 

Good luck!

Dorian

I second Addis. I have 2 that I use for most of the scroll. 

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There's a bit of personal choice involved, but buying a full set as sold as scroll gouges is mainly to the benefit of the supplier. I use maybe four, and could do with fewer. A flat one, a really round one, for close to the eye, and something in between. None of them need to be very wide. Additionally, I have an 18mm knife blank I sharpened to a thumbnail profile. On the flat side it acts like a chisel, flipped it becomes a very shallow gouge. It gets a lot of use on many things beyond just scrolls.

At one point this was my whole gouge kit. Now it's less than this--I don't use the big one at the back, on the left I use fewer scroll gouges, and the spoon gouge is basically useless and I haven't even seen it in years. The fifth from left with the knobby handle is actually a drill for hollowing out the pegbox. It's an in-cannel, semi-circular, for boring straight in. The flat knife blank is left of center with no handle.

gouges.jpg

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Attached are some side-by-side pictures of the Karlsson gouges (I believe that is what they are - bought from Dictum) next to some of Dictum's own brand gouges. Thought this may be helpful.

IMG_4160.jpeg.43c9a6be41417d4bcf84946ba3c205a8.jpegIMG_4159.thumb.jpeg.562cddd019f9821623e7459d914a492e.jpegIMG_4162.thumb.jpeg.baf6bba3ae8f6b724f452a734d8efc46.jpeg

 

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I use 3 fingernail gouges I made out of 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 chisels I found at garage sales. I use the flex cut to cut about the eye; it's a little big, but it works.   I use them as scrapers too.  This is pretty much my entire arsenal besides planes.20200220_124253.thumb.jpeg.a34e9908382d42a3fcdf2fad61e26248.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Ken_N said:

I use 3 fingernail gouges I made out of 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 chisels I found at garage sales. I use the flex cut to cut about the eye; it's a little big, but it works.   I use them as scrapers too.  This is pretty much my entire arsenal besides planes.20200220_124253.thumb.jpeg.a34e9908382d42a3fcdf2fad61e26248.jpeg

I am now in Wellington, New Zealand, for 2 years. Currently on lockdown. I am going to try to make a violin. I have the wood, but not gouges. I will try to make   
Straight chisels into fingernail gouges. Thanks for the pic. Maybe have to sharpen the kitchen knife. LOL

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Nice to have a range of sizes and types.  All cut somewhat differently.     I have mix of inside and outside bevels, and straight verus fingernail profiles.  Also, some are actual gouges and others are the curved Nomi chisels.  

One could certainly work with a minimal toolkit, but it's very nice to have a rich range of tools at hand.

Straight blades also have important roles in working the head.

 

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I have a complete Dastra(?)  set sold by GEWA in the 80's. I spent a few years carving about 6 scrolls a week and find that I use the whole set with a just couple of exceptions as well as a #2  Swiss made from Woodcraft supply which actually does most of the cutting with the Dastras cleaning up the corners of the volute. If you are going to school your teachers may be pretty particular as to what tools you buy and in many schools the students can get together and bargain with suppliers for a better price.

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Re this question of gouges: would anyone care to comment in their philosophy re sharpening? I come from a flute/pipes making background, where everything is lathe-oriented: you get used to stopping every 2-3 minutes and resharpen on a bench grinder, and rarely use whetstones. (Also you do things like use the edge of the bench grinding stone to turn normal gouges into incannel gouges). But I think the scroll carving world is very different!

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I agree about the advice to look out for old Addis gouges or any of the other early makers such as Taylor, Ward, Woodcock, Marples, Buck (Sheffield family company which set up business in the US). They are still available on sites such as Ebay. The best are the earliest made, possibly pre 1930. They can be recognised by the basically square angular bolsters forged onto the tangs. Stubby, worn ones are ideal for scroll carving and they tend to be cheaper. But ones in good condition can be quite pricey, especially the bigger sizes.

 

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I used Japanese stones for many years and admit to being a little obsessive compulsive with it. For the last ten years, I start with properly sharpened gouges and re-hone frequently with a leather strop in a drill press chuck at around seven hundred rpm. And I use a rheostat to adjust for speed control. It keeps the gouges sharp and polished, avoids any significant metal removal and doesn't harm the contours you are trying to preserve. I don't have to deal with burrs and my gouges and chisels are sharper than a new fresh commercial scalpel, which I will also polish on the leather. If my tools cannot shave hair off my arm, they are not sharp enough to use on the bench. They must move smoothly through the wood with minimal effort.

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19 minutes ago, Fossil Ledges said:

........a leather strop in a drill press chuck.......

What does this look like? A drum sander wrapped with leather? Can you post a picture?

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8 hours ago, Geigenbauer said:

Attached are some side-by-side pictures of the Karlsson gouges (I believe that is what they are - bought from Dictum) next to some of Dictum's own brand gouges. Thought this may be helpful.

IMG_4160.jpeg.43c9a6be41417d4bcf84946ba3c205a8.jpegIMG_4159.thumb.jpeg.562cddd019f9821623e7459d914a492e.jpegIMG_4162.thumb.jpeg.baf6bba3ae8f6b724f452a734d8efc46.jpeg

 

Thank you for the photos. The herdim gouges really look well built.

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18 hours ago, Al Cramer said:

Re this question of gouges: would anyone care to comment in their philosophy re sharpening?

I recently switched to using a water-cooled grinder/sharpening-machine and really like it. The ease of use is the biggest advantage for me (I am not a professional maker). This is especially true for gouges, small thumb plane irons and scraper blades. For flat (large) plane irons, chisels and knifes the advantages of the machine is probably not so big and water stones work fine for me.

The speed of the machine is relatively slow, I don’t have to worry about over-heating, and it is easy to maintain a constant angle between iron/gouge and the stone surface. The machine also has a leather honing wheel with flat, convex and v-shaped profiles.

I don’t believe this setup provides the highest achievable sharpening quality and someone with more practice and skill than me can probably get better results by just using water stones. Again, ease of use is the biggest advantage of the machine for me. 

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22 hours ago, Fossil Ledges said:

If my tools cannot shave hair off my arm, they are not sharp enough to use on the bench.

I find that that way of testing sharpness to be very unreliable. If there is high humidity about, or you are sweating, you could shave your arm hair with a spoiled cucumber just about as easily. 

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Well....that's part of the reason I don't post pics of my gouges on MN, they are mostly spoiled cucumbers and carrots with handles on them! (gouges envy), sad face emoticon...and I'm always sweating.

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5 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

I find that that way of testing sharpness to be very unreliable. If there is high humidity about, or you are sweating, you could shave your arm hair with a spoiled cucumber just about as easily. 

What do you consider to be reliable, that doesn't take a long time to set up?

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10 hours ago, Al Cramer said:

I'd like to learn more about the machine you're using. Could you provide a link?

My machine is a Tormek T8. Tormek makes different size machines and various jigs to use with their machines. Here in the US these machines are also sold at stores like Woodcraft. Grizzly makes a similar machine, but I have no experience with it. There are also machines where the stone is lying flat and a water tank continuously wets the stone (see links). Maybe someone here on the forum can share their experience with this type of machine?

I am also attaching a sharpening video from Maestro Kimon that you might find interesting. I believe the author is also active on this forum.

Links:

www.tormek.com

https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-10-Wet-Grinder-Kit-Anniversary-Edition/T10010ANV

https://woodworker.com/images/ss/958-371.jpg

Sharpening video:

https://youtu.be/VSuweu4R8gw

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