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Oneway's gouges and handles make a very easy-to-use combination for new and veteran woodturners.
Click image to enlarge

Oneway Mastercut Bowl Gouges & Sure-Grip Handles

An effective combination

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   It may surprise some that in addition to top-quality lathes and lathe tooling, Oneway Manufacturing, located in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, also produces a sophisticated and unique line of bowl gouges. Their Mastercut chisels and Sure-Grip handles are designed for woodturners by woodturners.

Initial Impressions

   The Mastercut gouges and Sure-Grip handles have the look of being finely crafted. The materials and workmanship is first rate throughout.
   While the Sure-Grip handles are heavier than anything I have used, testing would prove that to be an asset.
   The Mastercut gouges are nicely ground within the flute and around the circumference, resulting in a tool that is accurate and moves smoothly along the tool rest.
   The Sure-Grip handles are anything but traditional in appearance or construction. The metal ends and woven grip area that looks like high pressure hose is different than most woodturners are accustomed to but have equally unique properties that make them highly effective and comfortable in the shop.

Mastercut Bowl Gouges

The shape of the cutting edge is both effective and very easy to control.
Click image to enlarge

   Mastercut gouges are made from CPM M4 HSS (high speed steel), a form of high-tech powdered metal technology. Powdered metal is superior to common steel compounds because the carbide content can be evenly distributed throughout the piece of stock being formed. That uniformity of content allows metal engineers to design a specific compound and know those exact properties will be present throughout the blank from which the tools are manufactured. When depending on a very fine cutting edge, consistency in the material is crucial.
   Mastercut gouges were designed to be long lasting and easy to use. The surface of the gouge, including inside the flute, is precision ground to a fine surface that insures smooth sliding on the tool rest. Grinding the interior of the flute to such a smooth finish helps produce a very fine cutting edge with substantially reduced peaks and valleys that can deform during use. The result is an edge that cuts better initially and retains its sharpness longer.
   While Mastercut gouges have a long life, the separate handle design makes double-ended tools possible that essentially have twice the useful life. Making this even more attractive is that the double-ended versions cost only 40-percent more than single end versions.

Sure-Grip Handles

The Sure-Grip handles are comfortable to the hand and provide lots of leverage for control. The weight soaks up vibration without being tiring.
Click images to enlarge

   At first glance, the Sure-Grip handles look heavy and perhaps a little "clunky." However, the 12" handle actually weighs only 1 ¾ lbs and the 17" 2 ½ lbs, certainly more than traditional wooden handles but not enough to be a problem. At the lathe, the clunky impression goes away immediately.
   Made from tubular steel the Sure-Grip handles are fitted with aluminum ends, one having a ½"-diameter hole, the other a 5/8"-diameter hole to accept the full range of Mastercut gouges. Adapters are available to convert 5/8" to 3/8" or 3/8" to 5/8"-diameter sizes. A pair of heavy set screws at either end secures the gouge in the handle.
   The most remarkable feature of the Sure-Grip handles is the heavy plastic grips that look a bit like high-pressure hose. The grips are surprisingly comfortable and give a very good grip on the tool. An additional benefit of the plastic is that they warm to the hand almost instantly for those chilly days in the shop.
   Both the 12" (#2303) and 17" (#2302) versions have sufficient weight to absorb considerable amounts of vibration, making it easier to control the cutting edge. Their length lets the user anchor the butt end against their body while providing plenty of leverage for the most difficult of cuts.

In the Shop

Whether rounding the outside (Top) or hollowing, the Mastercut gouges are very effective and easy to control.
(Bottom) I was even able to cut a very clean cove with the Mastercut gouge that required very little sanding before applying the finish.
Click images to enlarge

   The size, weight and cutting edge shape make the Mastercut gouge - Sure-Grip handle combination easy to use, predictable and highly effective. The grip area is soft enough to be comfortable but firm enough for a solid feel of control. For those in colder climates, the handles really do warm quickly, adding to user comfort.
   One of the features I found very handy is being able to adjust the length of the gouge that protrudes outside of the handle. Shortening the exposed gouge length reduces the tendency to vibrate, which translates to greater control and smoother cuts. When needed, the gouge can be extended for extra reach.
   Being able to adjust length also means that as the gouge is sharpened, the useable length can be returned to what you are comfortable with.
   I used the Oneway turning tools on a variety of projects and found them very easy to get used to. The weight of the handles was never an issue in terms of fatigue. In fact, using the Sure-Grip handles and Mastercut gouges for extended periods felt more comfortable than most other tools I have tried.
   The Mastercut gouges cut fast and clean but remain easy to control, even in odd positions. It is just as easy to take light finishing cuts. When cutting the inside or outside of a bowl, this control gives the user the freedom to create shapes they may not attempt with other gouge types. I found it easy to hollow bowls with the Mastercut gouges, even undercutting bowls with rolled in lips. I even used a 3/8" Mastercut bowl gouge to cut a cove in a cherry bowl, leaving a surface that required little sanding.

Conclusions

   The Oneway Mastercut gouges and Sure-Grip handles are a great combination for any wood turner but should be of special interest to beginners. The Mastercut bowl gouges are extremely easy to use, very forgiving yet produce top-notch results. Learning to turn is tough enough without fighting the tools used.
   The top-quality materials and manufacturing mean these tools are as durable and they are effective. The powdered metal technology makes a very tough steel that takes a sharp edge and then holds that sharpness a surprisingly long time. During testing, I turned an entire 6"-diameter cherry bowl, start to finish, without having to sharpen or touch up the cutting edge. I gave it a quick pass on the Wolverine Sharpening jig (120-grit wheel) before starting the bowl and that edge cut cleanly throughout the project. This is important because reducing the frequency of sharpening dramatically extends the useable life of the tool.
   If you are in the market for new bowl gouges, you owe it to yourself to check out the Oneway line of tools.

   See the Mastercut gouges and Sure-Grip handles on the Oneway web site.

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