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making a wood carving gouge


Elizabeth Gazmuri

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Elizabeth Gazmuri

I need to make a carving gouge. I want the cut to be 3/32" diameter. Here is what I'm planning to do. 5/32" drill rod that comes annealed, collet it up on the headstock of my lathe,

with a 3/32" center drill in the tailstock start a hole, switch the center drill to a regular 3/32" drill and drill a hole.

 

Questions so far: do I need to switch to a regular drill bit, and I mean like a hardware store drill bit, if the 3/32"shank of the center drill is long enough for my purposes? do I need to do anything other than use "bur life" lube to the regular drill?

 

 

Grind the top bit off to form the gouge shape, and grind the bevel on the end to cut. Heat the gouge red hot quench in oil, and reheat a little to make the metal less brittle and requench in oil.

 

 

I'd welcome any comments and advise.

p.s. I am going to LOVE this forum!

 

 

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Moderator1

Welcome Elizabeth! While this forum is pretty new we are still trying to figure out where things fit best. I see this as tool question instead of up with scale metalwork so it has been moved here.

 

I am sure someone will answer this soon.

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Wm. R. Robertson

That sounds like a good plan however a few little details. If trying to drill deep with a center drill you'll have to withdraw it often to clean out the chips, a center drill does not have a lot of room in the flutes to hold them and when it gets full that is when you have trouble as heat builds up and snap, it breaks. As for hardware store drills it depends how good your hardware store is…. so many just sell junk these days. I get all my drills from machinists supply places like MSC, ENCO or McMaster Carr. Using burr life is OK but tapping or cutting fluid would be better, especially for a deep hole…. BTW a deep hole is considered 10X the diameter…..

 

When you are heating, best do it outside because it can stink up the shop pretty good. Also with small parts they don't stay hot long so you have to hold them and the torch very close to the quenching oil, like an inch away……. so you also have a fire hazard to worry about with a flame that close to the oil.

 

Just a little practice and you'll be fine.

 

We are glad you are on the forum and I think you will have fun here too.

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Elizabeth Gazmuri

O.K., spent the afternoon playing with this. The take away: use a cobalt drill bit to drill holes into annealed 01 tool steel (drill rod) if the drilling length is long. Is this right ? It took a long time to use regular but decent drill bits. I think the deal is that ideally the drill is made of harder material than the material to be drilled. Otherwise the gouges cut beautifully. Always learning.....

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Elizabeth Gazmuri

Oh by the way, anyone got strong opinions about cutting fluid? Regular 3 in one did great on this project.

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Wm. R. Robertson

I forgot, cobalt is great. I like it much better than carbide for most miniature work, especially lathe bits.

Now, 3 in 1 is not cutting fluid, it is oil. Cutting fluid works much better, I like Tap-Magic.... It comes in small cans which is nice. Also there are different kinds for different metals, for aluminum use T - M Aluminum or A - 9. Some of this stuff has a perfumery smell, that is to cover the real smell and some of them were sulfur based.

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Elizabeth Gazmuri

Just thinking through all possibilities of the process, which is how I work. I'm obviously having fun.

 

So now I want to make a wood carving gouge to be used as a plunge cutting tool to get the semicircular shape on the wood surface as a stop cut. I used .1150" rod and a .0940" drill bit to cut out the inside shape of the gouge. As a plunge type cut I do not want anymore width around the cut than I need.

 

 I did end up needing to go to a slightly smaller drill bit for the hole to leave more metal around the perimeter to bevel, as my first attempt was too thin and when shaping the bevel it was difficult to get an even cutting edge as the hone went right through spots. I'm wondering if it would be advantageous to harden the steel BEFORE shaping the bevel to have a little more resistance from the metal against the hone, and if that is true for a thin edge why would it not also be advantageous for a slightly thicker edge in terms of edge sharpness.

 

I'm not sure I'm making much sense putting this thought into words to anyone but me, but if understood comments would be welcome about the pros and cons of hardening the steel before or after shaping the bevel.

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Elizabeth Gazmuri

As for the cutting fluid discussion, for me personally, the jury is still out on its necessity over 3 in one oil, which is always on hand in my home. Though I now will need to get some Tap-Magic at your advise to do comparison studies, if the purpose is to keep things cool the 3 in one worked well for me as long as I took the time to clean out the shavings regularly which common sense tells me I'll need to do anyway. When I get my new cobalt bits I may feel very differently. I will let the forum know the results !

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Pete Boorum

Another way to shape cutting tools is to use a flex shaft or a Dremel with a shaft and a 1/16" Hight Speed Steel (HSS) or carbide ball cutter.  Put the drill rod in a vise and cut away a little at a time. Use a high speed. Don't worry too much about over heating the metal because you are going to harden it anyway.  On a longer groove I often use the .020" Dremel cutoff wheels that are fairly aggressive.  Get a rough shape with the burrs then switch to a small mounted grinding point.  Clean up the work but leave the edge heavy.  Next heat treat the work as you described.  After tempering put the tool into a pinvise and finish the edge gringing dipping often into a cup of water.  On something that small you can finish the edge with a diamond card or the edge of a hard stone.  Be sure to use eye protection all the way!

 

I used to make wood turning gouges with a ball end mill in the milling machine which is very slow and it is easy to damage the cutter.  Lately have use various cutoff disks more often.

 

You can get various sizes of flat stock and round rod at McMaster Carr in O1 or W1.  This is good for making skews, parting tools and chisels.

 

For a quick job, carefully grind your profile into the end of a needle file.  Files are usually made of SAE 1095 which is just about the same chemistry as O1.  Be careful not to burn it but if you do try rehardening, it should work.

 

Becaue of my long time experience making cutlery and painters toosl I said it was a bad idea to heatreat steel myself.  My heat treater got ridicoulously expensive so I tried it and it has worked out fine.  (Besides I don't have a hardness tester to prove me wrong.)

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Debora Beijerbacht

I'm not in need of making new cutters or gouges myself right now, but's its very informative to read this thread. Thank you all for sharing your views, tips and thoughts, it's very helpful and i'll keep it all in mind and try some of the things mentioned here when I'll make some myself again. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Ron Anderson

Someone correct me if I am wrong but plain old kerosene works well for cutting fluid on aluminum. Of course aluminum won't work for your gouge. 

 

This is a cool forum! Hi to all.  See you real soon in Castine.

 

Ron

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Wm. R. Robertson

Yes, kerosene will work and so will WD 40 but A-9 will work much better for aluminum..it is like so many things, some stuff works OK and you don't realize it was only OK until you try the good stuff. Maybe it is like drinking cheap wine with great food, it is OK, but a good wine makes it a spectactular meal.

See you in Castine

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Bill Hudson

I agree with Bill R. Rapid tap or Tap magic (both the same) old stuff that has been around for ages. I use it for both drilling and threading.  A-9 for aluminum.  I use an old sardine can to hold a puddle of either and apply with a soft artist paint brush (handle cut very short) This way I don't have a sloppy mess of Tap Magic allover my lathe or mill.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Bill H - thank you for posting this tutorial.

 

Now I need to add some cutting fluids and piano wire to my ever growing supplies list.

 

Tamra

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jackofalltrades

Interesting topic Elizabeth .   I am wondering what kind of gouge and for what purpose?  Carving or turning?

 

My favorite cutting fluid for steel is "Kool Tool" which is available in a small bottle or spray can.    Kool Tool can be a bit stinky (contains fish/animal oils?) if over heated but I find it often holds up better in heat than others.  Not being a petroleum product it doesn't seem as bad as some of the oils I have used in commercial shops that smokes at the drop of a hat.

 

Ordinary high speed steel drills are fine for cutting W1 or O1 drill rod using lubricant or coolant.  I'm not a big fan of carbide unless there is a true need for it.  "Cobalt" tools reduce "built up edge" but in most cases so does a good lubricant or coolant.

 

One thing to keep in mind in drilling small diameter holes is cutting speed which is usually higher RPM than is intuitive.   Feeding the drill into the hole, making a short cut, retracting from the hole entirely, brushing away chips, and adding lubricating and repeating till the finish depth is reached which is known as "pecking" can be very helpful.  Pecking clears out the chips that trap heat and can jam in the hole as well as allowing you to add lubricant.

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