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 Novice gouging advice
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2020-02-11 07:37

Hi all,

I recently picked up a second hand Ross oboe gouger in hopes of controlling more of my cane variables. I had a little bit of instruction on those machines 20 years ago as a student but have not gouged any cane since then. "How hard could it be?"

My blade is sharp enough, I believe. I consistently get clean 0.05mm chips with no signs of tearing. As far as I can tell by eye, the blade is properly centered - I suppose I should try testing the gap on each side with a thickness shim to verify that.

Working with my first dozen or so pieces of cane, I can't seem to get a consistent gouge thickness. I might gouge one perfectly at 0.60 but the next piece yields an extra chip, dropping to 0.55 or less. Is this possibly due to too much downward pressure on the carriage? I was thinking I might be squishing the cane and taking out an extra chip. I've also noticed this if I flip the cane around for one final pass on the other side. Sometimes nothing or just a sliver comes off the other direction, other times a full chip. This makes me suspect it's my technique rather than the adjustment of the machine, as I would expect it always to take off a lot on the other side if the blade were not centered. I am planing the cane first.

Getting professional help in person is probably possible if necessary, but if anyone can offer basic advice like "don't push too hard" or "press harder" I would appreciate your thoughts. As with scraping, I'm getting the sense there are a lot of instincts to develop when gouging, rather than relying on the tools to do all the work.

Michael

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2020-02-11 20:54

My first suggestion would be to have the blade sharpened. It is likely dull, which means that to get it to bite you must push down on it, and your pushing is inconsistent and generates variable thickness chips.

Dane
Bay Area, California

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2020-02-11 21:38

I do have an extra blade in new condition I could swap in, but hoped to avoid that until I become a little more familiar with the machine and rule out user error. I'm not afraid to tinker a little before I would resort to sending it out for service, but also very aware that novice tinkering could easily put it into a state that would require service.

Do you have recommendations on how to judge sharpness (e.g. thumbnail test on a reed knife) - should the gouger blade cut with little or no downward pressure? I assume sharpness is something an experienced operator just feels.

Michael

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2020-02-13 00:10

In my experience, the gouger blade should cut nice chips with only the weight of the carriage if the blade is properly sharpened.

Dane
Bay Area, California

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: jeremyreeds 
Date:   2020-02-13 00:21

The issue, I think, is that the pieces of pre-gouged cane are not all straight; there are 3 possibilities:
1) the piece of cane is straight and outcome is 0.60 mm.
2) the piece of cane is not straight, it has an upside down U shape, in such case the outcome is less than 0.60 mm.
3) the piece of cane is bent, has an U shape. Usually in this case the piece of cane jumps off the bed of the machine and gets broken; if the bent is not very pronounced, as to the piece of cane not jumping off the bed of the machine, then the outcome might be either 0.60 mm or a bit thicker (depending on the machine).

Jeremias

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2020-02-13 19:19

Thanks - that gives me an idea. In sorting my first batch of splits, I was careful to discard pieces that weren't straight on a flat surface. But I did not carefully check how circular they were - so it's plausible I set my depth on a piece that splayed a little flatter and then got different results on the next one with a different outer curve.

Michael

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: mjfoboe 
Date:   2020-03-02 04:11

Your experience is not that unusual. Make sure the cane is straight and not twisted and doesn't bow.

Good luck.

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: oboist2 
Date:   2020-03-08 01:54

I bought gouged and shaped cane for more than 30 years as I could not afford the equipment, however I got a little sick of the variables I often got, and it was getting too expensive, so when I retired, I bought a gouging machine. I ended up with a reeds n stuff with a circular blade. I asked for it to be set up to gouge 60 at centre and 45 at sides. I make a long scrape reed, but its a little different from the typical US scrape. I also bought a shaping machine at that time. Eventually, I got a crank handle pre gouger (the best investment I ever made. At first I tended to push the blade on the gouger too hard and went through 2 turns out of the three of the circular blade. I gouge my can damp - after a good soak and then I wipe off excess water. With the crank style pregouger, most of the work is done for me and I dont have to gouge much - The thing is, I have found you need to be quite ruthless in your selecting and culling stage before you start to gouge - If you are not, the cane does not rest in the bed well, and can slide around, so any cane that is not straight and even slightly warped should be discarded. You also need to gouge cane that has the same diameter as your gouger bed. I also smooth out the insides with fine wet and dry paper after, and make sure the cane is properly dry before storing. I chose the reeds n stuff gouger because it is very well made, and with a circular blade you do not have to worry about sharpening and resetting. The downside is that you are limited to what adjustments you can make, but I feel that, the main thing is that you are consistent as your scrape may vary a little if you want to make changes.

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2020-03-10 15:48

Thank you for your insights. I had some time to process more cane in the past few days and feel like I am getting the hang of it a bit better. I have not been wiping excess water from cane before gouging but will try that next time. One out of every 5 or 6 pieces I've gouged, the blade doesn't seem to bite at all and nothing comes off. This might be because the piece is bowed upward (though I discard those more readily than any other defect), but maybe it's because the cane is too wet. I am also ready to switch over to a brand new blade I think.

Another thing I've learned in my first few weeks - the first time, I split cane and let it sit a day to settle, but then I guillotined, planed, and gouged in the same sitting. The second time, 3 days after splitting I sorted again, guillotined and planed but did not soak & gouge until a day later. At that point I found several pieces planed and straight enough the day before were warped before soaking.

My Ross machine is also very limited in adjustments, which is just fine for now.

Michael

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 Re: Novice gouging advice
Author: gohpeds 
Date:   2020-03-11 10:02

I have noticed that also, some pieces of cane that seem bowed, do get straight after splitting and pregouging.I store split and pregouged cane for a long time and most of them seem to be usable.

Also, I think Ross and Graff Machines do not have side clamps for the cane and rely only on stops. therefore some very ligthly bowed pieces will jump these. I think this is an unnecessary waste. since these cane if not bowed upwards in the center will still give good closed sides.

I have a Reeds n Stuff machine and a Kunibert Michel that have these side clamps. The RDG machines also have them.

Try to save your bowed pieces for a while and see if they are straighter later.

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