Help with buying bowl gouge and roughing gouge

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Trainee neophyte

Established Member
12 Apr 2019
Reaction score
I have finally got my lathe up and running, and I have played around a bit, sufficient to realise I don't know what I am doing. I have a selection of cheap gouges, etc - probably on a par with Silverline quality-wise, but the box says proudly "Made in China ", so they must be quite good ;-)

What I don't have is is a roughing gouge, or a bowl gouge. I have found out the hard way just how important they are, to the extent that I have put the lathe away until I get some. So, I have two problems: firstly, I have no idea what to get or where from, and secondly no one seems to have any stock, anyway. Could anyone steer me in the right direction? Or even better, if anyone has some surplus tools after an upgrade, second hand would be fine. Happy to pay the going rate.

My lathe is a Clarke 20", so buying top quality tools would be similar to fitting a gold plated ashtray to a Robin Reliant. On the other hand I don't want to die, so something that won't break and stab me in the face would be nice. I will be turning mostly seasoned wood from the firewood stack - it's dense and rock hard, and I need to get it to vaguely round before letting the Chinese metal anywhere need it, to avoid hospitalisation.

Anyone's thoughts would be much appreciated.
I have some spares - Sorby, Crown and Record if you are interested (Will send some photos if wanted) BUT I have no idea about posting them to Greece - what would be involved?

Very kind offer - thank you. Postage is my problem. For you, it is mostly just wrapping them up well - I could probably arrange collection from you, or the post office may be a better (but more annoying for you) option. All I need to know is the size of the parcel, and the weight, and then I work out the best way to get it here.

I have never used any of these tools, so I would be entirely in your hands. What would you recommend?
Tools from any of the major manufacturers - Sorby, Ashley Iles, Crown, Hamlet, Henry Taylor, Record would be fine. Go for at least high speed steel (or better). The older high carbon steel tools will do the job but will need sharpening much more often so save yourself some time by avoiding those for all the commonly used tools.
A 3/4" or 1" spindle roughing gouge would be fine for that size lathe. Either a 3/8" or 1/2" bowl gouge depending on what size bowls you envisage making.

I don't have any surplus SRGs but may have a bowl gouge or two available.

If you haven't already got one, get a full face visor rated to medium impact protection - EN166-B or Z87+
If you only get one, choose a decent bowl gouge. You can use a bowl gouge as a spindle roughing gouge (a number of turners do) but you can't use a spindle roughing gouge for anything else.
Thank you everyone. I am currently using my strimmer face mask, but it has seen better days and is ground-in filthy so hard to see through. A dedicated turning mask is on the list.

I am currently considering my options, and will post a photo of my first embarrassingly humble effort soon, I hope.