Manufacturers of turning tools have been using M2 High Speed Steel (HSS) for their
gouges and chisels for several years. Some steels also offer longer edge-life. This
reduces the need for sharpening, cuts downtime and lengthens the life of a tool.
Crown Hand Tools have recently introduced a range of 'Pro-PM' HSS turning gouges
which make use of the powder technology that has been used on heavy-duty machine
tools for some years. Such steel is said to give superior wear resistance, hardness
retention, excellent toughness and excellent 'grindability'.
The Two Tested
I tested the 237PM 13mm (1/2") Spindle Gouge and the 242PM (1/2") Bowl Gouge. The
spindle gouge is made from 13mm (1/2") diameter bar, but the bowl gouge is formed
from 16mm (5/8") diameter bar.
Gouge size terminology varies with supplier and can be based on flute width or bar
diameter. In North America the tools would be referred to by the bar diameter and
not the width of the flute.
The PRO-PM tools come with nicely finished black handles encircled by heavy brass
ferrules. The spindle gouge has a 320mm (12 1/2") handle, and the bowl gouge a 410mm
They have a satin finish, are a little different in shape to previous Crown handles
and are comfortable to hold.
The spindle gouge was the right profile for me, so only needed some fine finishing
and honing. Here I used a Tormek whetstone grinder and a diamond hone.
The bowl gouge had high wings, which I don't like, so some heavier reshaping was
needed here. Using a dry grinder I quickly took back the wings. Despite rapid hefty
grinding, I did not get any burning on the tool edge, which creates a better edge
more quickly and easily.
The Real Test
The profile then got a fine finishing on the Tormek using the SVD 180 jig. The tools
took no longer to sharpen than conventional HSS tools, putting paid to one presumption. Then
it was on to the real test - how long would the edge stay keen compared with normal
Early trials with the bowl gouge were encouraging. I achieved a very clean cut with
my well-honed edge, and the tool kept its edge much longer than with traditional
M2 HSS. The bowl gouge is nicely balanced, with the 405mm (16") handle just the
To give the gouge a good workout I used it to final finish a 405mm (16") diameter
heavy oak bowl that had been roughed out when wet using a King Arthurs Tools chainsaw
cutter on an angle grinder.
With the gouge freshly honed, the challenge was to see if I could finish the job
without going back to the diamond hone, let alone the grinder. Again I was impressed. The
tool kept its edge longer, and needed only a slight tough-up with a diamond hone
a couple of times during the heavy turning.
The spindle gouge performed equally well on a between-centres work without need for
frequent re-honing or sharpening.
I think the best feature of the Crown PRO-PM gouges is that they keep their edge
much longer. Also, that they are easier to quickly as the steel is difficult to
burn an edge on when it is being dry ground. Better durability and easier sharpening
- great!A jewel in the Crown range, you might say.
Test Report on the New 'Pro-PM' Turning Gouges from