Hook knives, hand scorps and gouges

For more information on the gouge, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

Briefly. In answer to the question, why I prefer a #7 35mm gouge over a hand scorp or hook knife, it’s dead simple really. Whereas knives and scorps do similar and sometimes the same work, they are designed for different action, presentation and even wood types, I think. DSC_0018 This gouge cuts a spoon in a few minutes in hard, dense-grained hard wood and open-grained soft, even punky wood. It also carves both deep and shallow bowls and chair seats and all this the wood from dried and green with little resistance either way. The gouge cuts incrementally deeper and within six cuts from each end delivers a near perfect spoon bowl to the shape I imagined just a few minutes before. Right. Remember that I bought that Hirsch #7 35mm gouge two weeks ago from Highland Hardware? yesterday I took it from the plastic packet and without any further sharpening, scalloped out the spoon bowl As I challenged the blows to task I felt so directly connected as the fibres cut, split and separated from the remaining wood. I think that this could be the best spoon gouge I’ve ever used. Glad to have it in my tool box. The wood? Kiln-dried American white oak.

Of course there’s a place for different methods, techniques and indeed tools. I think the gouge can be used for a much broader spectrum of tasks without compromising quality, economy of movement. There are other issues of course, such as stock holding, but that’s not much of an issue. There are also issue of whittling from a stool instead of standing at a bench. it all depends on what you want. Now we do have inshaves for carving seats, but that’s another sphere.


  1. Paul,

    You mentioned that the Gouge you purchased from Highland in the prior blog post was a #7 35mm. Is this was you meant or do you also use a #5 37mm gouge as you mentioned in this blog? Is their a big difference in a #5 vs #7 profile?

  2. Just changed it. Sorry. Yes, there is quite a difference, though both will work for spoons, but the #7 has a shallower sweep, just a different radii.

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