Arbortech Ball Gouge
Angle grinders are great for quickly removing wood or metal, but the process typically involves a cloud of sawdust or sparks, and the results are often fairly rough. Arbortech’s newest grinder accessory provides a new way to carve quickly and cleanly. The Ball Gouge makes fast work of hollowing out spoons, small bowls, and shaping medium-sized carvings. The cutter’s peeling action leaves a scalloped surface reminiscent of a gouge, and the tool’s unique geometry enables you to tackle undercuts and hollowing chores that typically require an arsenal of specialty gouges.
This ball gouge is surprisingly easy to control, partially because the ball-shaped head prevents the blade from digging in too deeply. (Arbortech calls this “Anti-Grab Technology.”) If you apply too much pressure, the tool simply starts to bounce off the workpiece. The ringed blade’s relation to the head also helps control the cut. The circular blade is positioned at an angle so that the bottom tip of the cutter head extends past the blade. (If you set the tip of the gouge against the workpiece, it won’t cut.) As you lean the grinder, the blade starts to dig in. The manufacturer suggests holding the gouge at a 30-60° angle relative to the workpiece. I found the higher angle cutting easier to control, although it required more passes. Like a standard gouge, cutting against the grain resulted in some tearout, but the Anti-Grab Technology prevented the tool from diving into the wood. The damage can be erased by recutting from another direction or adjusting the angle of the cutter.
Another interesting attribute of this power gouge is that it is self-honing. As the front-facing edge makes the cut, the back-facing edge is honed as it’s swept against the stock. Even after testing the tool on dense mesquite and olive wood, the blade sliced through cedar and cherry spoon blanks without any indication of wear. When the blade does eventually dull, it can be rotated to present a fresh edge. Kudos to Arbortech for creating a low-tech torque wrench for the job. Twisting the hex-head wrench until its attached clear tubing touches the long arm ensures that the repositioned ringed blade is firmly locked in place.
—Tester, Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk