By the time you’re reading this you are probably very much aware of our new product the Ball Gouge. While it now seems surprisingly simple and effective, this tool is the product of countless prototypes and experiments often leading to dead ends.
I would like to share with you some of the thoughts that went into its design.
I usually start my tool projects with a vision and try to work towards that. The idea I had in mind was that of a ball shaped cutter that could effectively cut in any direction whilst leaving a smooth cut. Such a tool (as with all our shaping tools) must be able to willingly cut in any direction but not grab or catch.
While I was pondering on how to achieve such control, I noticed an old style tool that was used to produce a counter sink at the top of a hole. Essentially a cone shaped mandrel with a hole drilled at an angle, that when pressed into a pre-drilled hole, will cut the countersink but only to the point that the circular shape prevents it cutting any further. I reasoned that the same principal might work with ball shaped cutter and so began a bunch of experiments.
In collaboration with our Product Designer Matt Cormack, we started with several prototypes with a shape similar to this:
One of the first prototypes
There were several problems with this design however not the least the fact that as soon as it formed a shallow spherical hollow, it would no longer cut. Also, it was difficult to sharpen and the large hole allowed a finger to be inserted making it not meet our safety standards. I liked the fact though that the holes scribed a perfect sphere with no kickback or grabbing. We progressed through about thirty designs including holes, slot and spirals, all of which had their inherent problems until we finally realized that the inverse i.e. a disc set at an angle would also scribe a perfect sphere.
By adding the sphere (with cut away for swarf) the exposure of the cutting blade can be limited and tuned while the trailing edge of the cutter prevents the leading edge from grabbing. We like to call this feature “Anti-Grabity” and it is unique to the Ball Gouge.
The final design solved all our problems with control and the circular cutter being set on an angle produced beautiful shavings. One unexpected feature was that the rubbing of the trailing edge actually polishes and sharpens the edge, which can be rotated to be the cutting edge. i.e. self-sharpening.
So that’s a much abbreviated explanation of the design process without going into the nitty gritty of testing etc. I hope you found this aspect interesting.
The final tool is in your hands now and I am truly looking forward to receiving your feedback and seeing what you create with it. Many of our staff are eager to get their hands on the new Ball Gouge for our in-house staff woodworking competition but they will have to wait until the limited edition is sent out. We will be posting videos of projects on our YouTube Channel and I welcome any photos or videos from yourselves.
Once again, thank you for your support and I look forward to your feedback.
Arbortech CEO & Founder