Sorby Continental Spindle Gouges & ProEdge

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20 Aug 2008
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I'm a full time furniture maker, but only a very occasional turner. A couple of sessions per year making drawer pulls, the occasional turned furniture component, and that's about it. So I'm very familiar with woodworking and sharpening, but a complete ignoramus on all matters turnery!

Anyhow, a couple of questions.

Can someone explain what are the differences and benefits (if any) between a continental style spindle gouge and a traditional spindle gouge?

Does anyone use a basic (ie non-fingernail) grind on a spindle gouge? If so how do you prevent it fouling the work piece?

And my final question relates to sharpening turning gouges with the Sorby ProEdge.

Take the Sorby Continental Style Spindle Gouge as an example, as far as I can determine the closest setting to reproduce the original factory grind is the 35 degree extension and the basic Sorby/Tormek fingernail jig (as opposed to the long fingernail jig). But that means the jig is almost bumping against the ferrule,


These are the settings on the jig,


I've had this ProEdge a fair few years, these earlier jigs were adjustable, but I believe the latest versions are locked in a specific position. As far as I know (but I'm not 100% sure) this is the original position and should therefore correspond to the current locked position.

This is the grind it delivers...but only for another half dozen sharpens, because then it'll collide with the ferrule!


Surely this can't be right, what am I missing here?

Hi Custard, I hope I can help a little, though I don't use a "continental" style gouge and I don't do a lot of spindle work!

Sorby are very frustrating in that they have a good product, but sparse and poor documentation.

What you appear to have ended up with is swept back wings, but with the cutting edge not following the same line. The first question I would find out the answer to is: can you do a fingernail grind on a continental style gouge with a Sorby fingernail jig? I suspect that may be the heart of the matter, as the flutes are a different shape (to a "normal" gouge).

One thing that you have to get your head around is the SHAPE that you want, i.e. "traditional", "fingernail", "long grind / irish grind" and the ANGLE of the bevel. It may be blindingly obvious to some, but it took me a while to figure out that the two are completely independent of each other, i.e. you can have a fingernail grind with a 45 or a 55 degree bevel (or anything really). Unfortunately as there is little to no Sorby documentation, much trial and error is required to figure out the right magic incantation to achieve that.

BTW as Phil says, your issue with running out of room on the gouge stems from too much projection / stick out.

Sorry not to help more, but I suspect a phone call to Sorby will confirm that the jig is not compatible with the gouge.
I use an Ashley Iles continental pattern gouge, as well as a normal spindle gouges (Crown Cryo and H.T)
I wouldn't use the jig for the continental. It's a nice tool, but it's for gentler curves than the fingernail ground spindle gouge - the wings don't need to be so far back. My opinion, of course.
Thanks for the answers, I'll follow up direct with Sorby and see if they'll share the jig settings that correspond to their original factory grinds.
The original pro edge jigs were bought from or licenced from tormek. Only recently have they changed very much and not in concept, only refinement.
What this means is that the (downloadable) instruction manuals for the tormek gouge jigs are a useful resource when figuring how the movements of the collar, the knuckle joint and stick out of the tool each affect aspects of the grind.

There is quite a lot of info out there I found when trying to discover the jig settings to exactly recreate the grind for the Ellsworth bowl gouges. There are a couple of youtube videos in particular made by someone from Sorby to help address the confusion caused by the weak instructions with the ProEdge. Do look for those. Sorry I don't have them bookmarked.

Unfortunately the conclusion to my own search was that neither the tormek nor the Sorby can make the exact Ellesworth grind (as made by Crown at least) and that a Wolverine type of jig was the only way. Not every jig can necessarily make every grind but I'm sure you will be able to get close.
Thanks for the answers, I'll follow up direct with Sorby and see if they'll share the jig settings that correspond to their original factory grinds.
Hi custard I have the settings which sorby sent me I’ll sort them out and post them to you and on hear hopefully today.
Good info, but note that it only lets you put the jig back to the way Sorby shipped it.
It tells you nothing about how they setup the jigs in their factory to grind various different tools.

These - though not for the Pro-Edge - explain how adjusting this type of jig affects the grind.
Gouges are discussed from p77 onwards.
Great advice, thank you!