View Full Version : Benjamins Best Bowl Gouge 1/2 inch

21st Nov 2008, 02:02 PM
Has anyone here used one? I'd like to know the good, bad and ugly.

I have one bowl/spindle gouge that is carbon steel. It works very well when sharp, but that state does not last long. While making the unknown Hawaiian wood bowl, I spent almost as much time sharpening as turning.

I think the BB HSS gouge would be a step up.

Suggestions are welcome. I prefer good house brand or noname tools to absolutely wonderful $100 gouges.

Fixed income, bad turning addiction, not yet selling.


Ed Reiss
21st Nov 2008, 02:06 PM
Hey Paul...
I've checked out Benjamins Best tools at the MLCS/Penn State store in Philly.
They look pretty substantial, definetly worth the cost.

21st Nov 2008, 03:44 PM
I have the set of three BB bowl gouges. I think the steel is ok, definitely value for the money, but do not care for the V shape flute that everyone else seems to favor. Have a U flute Sorby (bought on sale) that I use most, but also use the smallest BB gouge fairly often. BB probably has more than one flute shape available now, so you could pick what you want. Saw some other decent looking, modestly priced tools recently but can not recall the brand. Except for the Sorby, I use home made tools with metal-cutting bits ($3 each) more than anything else.

Gil Jones
21st Nov 2008, 04:34 PM
I have a fair collection of BB turning tools, and while most of them are OK, I have noticed that the tempering process used is not consistent. All of my BB scrapers are very well made and properly tempered. Other than the fact that I do not care for the "V" shaped flutes, all of the gouges are well made and tempered except for one 5/8" bowl gouge that is a wee bit soft. The easiest way to say it is that a quality metal file will skate on the surface of all but one of my BB turning tools, and not cut metal. BUT, that one 5/8" bowl gouge is soft enough to let the file remove some metal; hence it must be resharpened more often than the others. NONE of the BB tools hold an edge like my Crown PM tools, but I reckon that is to be expected. Plus, the BB tools are very good value to learn with as long as you check the temper of the steel when they arrive.

21st Nov 2008, 05:55 PM
Dunno what your budget is Paul, but a lot of folk speak well of these


Have just acquired a 5/8 V bowl gouge but it's too early to make an assessment.

There's a saying: 'the sweetness of low price is long outlived by the bitterness of poor quality', by which I mean, if you inform yourself carefully and get just a few quality tools, in the long run you're better off and save money.

BTW, this is not a reflection on BB tools or the experience of Gil and others with them.

23rd Nov 2008, 05:56 AM
Well I run a 1/2" Henry Taylor Long and Strong with the round flute along with my BB 5/8" V flute and have to say I find no difference either in sharpening frequency or general good performance. The different flute shapes do need to be adjusted for when presenting the tool to make certain cuts and so sometimes one works better than the other. As far as value goes the BB provides some really cheap grinding practice and so I have to say it therefore is better value, but I wouldn't be without either gouge.
When the HT gets ground to the nubbs then Doug Thompson will be getting an order:)

23rd Nov 2008, 06:17 AM
I have Crown Pro PM 5/8 Vflute, a Pinnacle 1/2" Vflute, and 5 Thompson's. I use the Thompson's the most, and sharpen them less, than the others. I like that little Pinnacle, too, but the Thompson Gouges are my go-to tools for bowls.

23rd Nov 2008, 11:18 AM
Thanks for all the advice and comments.

Budget is low, and I want to move from carbon steel spindle gouge to HSS bowl gouge.


25th Nov 2008, 05:42 PM
Yeah Al, have only used the Thomson 5/8" to clean out the epoxy on the inside of Thumbsucker's bowl at which it performed just fine :-

When the edge is gone I'll prob grind it pretty much straight across for hogging out. Saves time compared to setting it up in the jig for the swept back grind. Will save that nicety for the Ellsworth Sig gouge.

26th Nov 2008, 10:25 AM
If you get a chance, Ern, would you post a pic of one of your gouges that's straight across? Then again, maybe not. Don't want to hijack this thread. Would you start another one? I've never used one with the straight across grind. Don't know if I've even seen one ground that way.

26th Nov 2008, 11:02 AM
Al, search for the thread started by GJ called something like 'Ellsworth grind'.

Since then I've become conscious that my use of 'straight across' is ambiguous. Prob the proper use of the term refers to a bowl gouge without any relieving of the wings, such that the bevel length all round might look pretty much the same.

What I'm talking about may be what referred to as a thumbnail grind. Some relieving of the wings but nowhere near the long edge of a fingernail grind. I get it by setting the grinder platform to give about a 45 degree bevel and then pretty much just rotate the gouge shaft and maybe just give a bit of handle swing as I come up the wings. Doesn't need much swing with a V flute; with a U flute with a clear transition from wall to flute bottom I do the swing at that transition point to smooth the profile out (referring here to P&N 1/4 and 3/16 bowl gouges).

Pics attached of a 3/8 Henry Taylor Superflute.

As confessed elsewhere, the bevel has shortened. Now a bit above 40 degrees. A regrind should take care of emerging concave edges (which on bowl outsides make pull slicing and scraping cuts harder than they need to be) and give me back the tight parabola at the tip that Superflutes are renowned for.

Hope this helps.

26th Nov 2008, 01:05 PM
Just reground it at 45 degrees.

Got the best result without handle swing. Finer point, wings just a poofteenth on the side of convex.

And in plan it looks rather like a fingernail grind. Doh.

26th Nov 2008, 02:04 PM
Thanks, Ern! I think I'm going to try this on one of mine. Probably the little 3/8 Thompson. I may get something I really like!! Thanks for the explanation. I'll reset the platform to 45deg and give it a try.

26th Nov 2008, 02:29 PM
Pleasure Al.

Kinda ironic. I've turned bowls with this tool for years. Lately have been playing around with the swept-back grind on an Ellsworth, and like it .. but it just takes too long to dress the edge in my jig. So I'll keep the Ellsworth for the fine cuts it's good at with orig grind but regrind the Thomson for hogging out.

Pics of the reground HT below. Done on a 54 grit wheel so edge is pretty rough. And looking closely, maybe a bit of swing to pull the top of the wing back might be the go.

26th Nov 2008, 04:36 PM
Interesting posts Ern. Thought I was the only one on the planet that still likes the (what I call) straight conical grind. About 60 degrees on a Sorby U flute, but lately have been trimming the corners back just a tad, as you described. Rarely use the Ellsworth Sig (bought on sale). Sometimes do a "shear cut" with it, which would probably be better done with a skew. Thompson U on order, to arrive in the fullness of time, to replace the Sorby which is getting a bit short in the tooth.