I'm looking for pointers on forging wood carving gouges. I
have the Larson book which has a lot of good info, but
doesn't cover gouges, and I've looked at Weyger's book which
has examples of making a gouge, but only his conical profile
What I would really like to do is make gouges to match the
Sheffield list, and that have forged bolsters. I do have
the capability to machine a swage block. Finding some
additional instruction or examples would save me a lot of
I hope you know what you are getting into. If you do not have
any forging skills, particularly tool forging this is a tough place to
start as a LOT of control will be required to get anything worthwhile.
Swages could certainly help with shaping gouges. Allow for oversized
forgings as a lot of material will be lost when cold working, heat
treating and final finishing. Good luck dude.
I've been forging as a hobbiest for about three years now. Mostly
decorative stuff, and the CABA exercises including forge welding,
and some simple heat treating - cold chisels and paring knives
I agree that it's major challenge moving into tool making, which is
why I'm trying to do as much research up front as I can. I'm just
not finding much on the web, or in the few books that I have. I've
seen some references that Weygers' book may have more relevant stuff
than I remember.
Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions.
I have a copy of the Weygers book but i was always more
impressed with the illustrations than the information contained.
It sounds like you have a good start and are ready to dive in. It sounds
like you understand the basics of heat treatment? If I were you I would
make a few flat chisels first to practice forming the shoulders and
tangs. Personally, I favor W-1 or W-2 over O-1. Both are great steels,
it's just that O-1 is more finicky during forging. It has a tendency to
crack if you forge it a little to hot or a little to cold. The "W"
series steels are much more forgiving and perform just as well in a
finished tool. My other suggestion is that you forge the working end of
chisels 15% -20% oversize. Allow PLENTY of material for cold working so
you can get through the forging scale and still have a tool left. Also,
if you try to harden a tool with a very thin cutting edge you run the
risk of a failed heat treatment. It is a pain to grind after a tool is
hardened but sometimes this is the best way.
I don't think there are a great many good books on this subject. In
the end the truth reveals itself at the forge.
Forging woodworking tools is far beyond my own experience, but I have
done some reading and attended some demonstrations that are relevant
to the subject.
If I were planning to start such a project, I would use Weyger's book
as a jumping off point. I'd start by trying to do exactly the gouge
he describes, and not varying that one whit.
One demonstrator (sorry, I don't remember who) showed using a
flea-market claw hammer to make a handled gouge - like a cooper's
tool. He did this to avoid the work of making the eye. He cut off
the claws and worked the head to the shape he wanted.