Good gouges are expensive; but not this one! I was happy to discover this great DIY lathe tool. It's called an Oland tool http://www.aroundthewoods.com/oland.shtml it was invented in the 1970's by Knud Oland.
Common wisdom tell us you can't have it all; you must choose between three factors: you can have it inexpensive, high quality, and easy; but you may only choose two out of three.
But with the Oland tool you can have it all!
This tool is cheap to make, easy to use and functions well. Constructing this gouge involves regular shop tools and common, inexpensive materials.
The parts are:
-a big dowel (free from the scrap pile, you could even substitute this with a scrap of 2x4)
-a 16mm X 30cm steel rod (18"x3/4"): 300 yen
-a 6mm (1/4") lathe blade (from a metal lathe): 2000 yen but probably way cheaper in your country. This was too expensive for me so I used a hardened steel concrete nail instead.
-a 5mm .8 thread machine screw (or a 1/4x20 thread): there's probably one in your pocket right now.
-2 meters/6 feet of thickish 1~2mm 1/8~1/16 steel wire: very cheap
=Not much money.
The tools are:
-drillbit the same width as your steel rod (to drill wood).
-6mm or 1/4" drillbit (to drill steel)
-5mm .8 or 1/4x20 thread tap
-5mm .8 or 1/4x20 bottoming tap (Mothflavour2 suggested a workaround so you don't need a bottoming tap see step 4)
-drill bit appropriate for your tap size.
-a grinder with a narrow wheel.
That's all folks!
See the thing in action on my foot-powered lathe:
Remember to post pictures of your's in the comment's section.
Step 1: Cut Dowel to Length and Drill
Cut your dowel to about 2 feet long.
Drill a 3 inch hole down one end.
In my case, my steel rod was threaded for about 3 inches on each end. This meant that it screwed down very nicely into a 15mm wide hole!
If your steel rod is not threaded, you might want to drill through both the dowel and the rod and put in some set screws to pin everything together.
Step 2: Reinforce Dowel
Wrap some wire around the end of the dowel to keep it from splitting.
This might be a bit paranoid but seeing as this is a lathe tool you don't want fast sharp heavy metal busting out of its handle and flying at you! So let's make the thing strong.
Step 3: Drill the Steel Rod
Drill a 6mm (1/4") hole down the end of your steel rod. Go about 6cm (2") down into the rod.
Stop frequently and use cutting oil to keep your drill bit healthy.
Actually I should have drilled a 5mm hole. I couldn't find a 6mm metal lathe blade at a reasonable price so I used tempered concrete nails instead. The nails only came in a 5mm diameter. Anyway the set screw holds the nail/blade in place reasonably well.
Step 4: Drill and Tap for Your Set Screw
A machine screw will lock your gouge or cutting blade in place. So you need a threaded hole in the side of your steel rod near the end. If this were a naughty piercing it would be called a Prince Albert but it's not.
Look up the appropriate drill size for your tap. Mine is 5mm .8 coarse thread with a recommended drill size of 4.2mm. I only had a 4mm bit. It worked.
Finally finish off the threads in the hole with a bottoming tap. It is important that the threads are completed all the way down through the hole (or else you will have problems like stripping the threads). A regular tap won't work to finish the threads unless you use this clever workaround from Mothflavour2:
If you don't have a bottoming tap, you can still make the threads all the way through by simply drilling the hole all the way through the other side and letting the tap thread through the whole piece. That way, you end up with two tapped holes, both of which are completely threaded, yet you still have the option of only using one.
Step 5: Grind Down the End of the Steel Rod
Grind down the steel rod so you can maneuver the blade into tighter positions.
Step 6: Shape Your Blade
This is the real genius part of the tool. It uses an easily changeable high quality steel cutting blade that is a commodity item. If it gets worn out they are easy and cheap(ish) to find and replace. And you can shape the blade to your personal tastes without ruining an expensive tool while you figure it out!
The original instructions called for a 1/4 inch lathe blade but I couldn't get one easily so I used a concrete nail instead.
You can grind the nail into any shape you want:
Plus concrete nails are super strong and super cheap.
Step 7: Expound!
Easy right, you just drilled 3 holes and saved yourself a hundred bucks in the process. Buy a bunch of beer and/or a solar panel with the money you saved.
Now tell everyone how cool you are for making your own great tool. Make your own lathe and maybe they will believe you :)