Woodworking has come to comprise a good portion of our bushcraft activities. As a result, many of our tools are geared towards that task. Many of us carry belt knives which excel at those woodworking tasks. Other than the all purpose belt knife, most people interested in bushcraft will also most likely have in their possession a crook, or spoon knife. The curved blade of that knife allows for the removal of wood from concaved surfaces such as a spoon.
For some time now, I have been using crook knives for exactly such tasks. First I used the Mora 164, and then the Mora 162-see here. I even tried one of the horseshoe knives. In the end however, I was not happy with any of them. They just did not feel right in my hand, and I could rarely manage to finish a project without cutting myself with the crook knife.
So, I started searching for a better way. It is no secret that people who do woodworking in a shop use chisels and gouges to perform these carving tasks. However, in the bush, where a light weight portable tool is needed, the crook knife seemed like the best option. That is until I found the Acorn gouges.
The Henry Taylor Acorn gouges are made in England and come in a variety of configuration. They vary in size of the cutting surface (measured in inches), and in the degree of sweep/curvature of the cutting surface (indicated as different number values - 6,8,10,etc, with the lower number indicating a more open curve). The one I use and that you see in the pictures is a 5/16 inch, sweep #6 straight gouge. I purchased mine for $23.
They are very small. You can see it next to a Mora 164 here.
I have found the gouge to be very easy to use. I have had much better luck working with it than with the crook knives. It performs the job admirably, especially on hard woods. If you are working with soft green woods, the crook knife will probably have an advantage because its larger cutting surface will allow you to remove more wood with each pass.
Overall, I am very happy with this tool. I have been carrying it instead of my crook knife for a few months now. It may not be the right choice for you, but it is a fairly good alternative for those who have not had the best of luck with crook knives.