Thoughts on woodturning tools

barry biesanz at the lathe woodturning One of the early articles in Fine Woodworking magazine quoted Bob Stocksdale, the pioneering American craft turner, that he almost never used anything but a deep gouge, a round nose scraper, and a parting tool. Everything else he called, “Just one more thing to pick up and put down.”

I liked his attitude, but like most of us, I was a sucker for the Latest Thing, and ended up with a lot of stuff I’ve never used. Here’s what I do use.

3/8″ long and strong deep gouge, longish side grind. I went through a lot of Jerry Glaser’s gouges, but now they are out of production. Tried a bunch, and now like my Hamlet gouge from England, I think I found it at Crafts Supplies USA online, good catalog. ¼ is great too, but careful with the overhang or you can and will snap some –and these are not cheap!

5/8″ roundnose scraper, for the bottom of the bowl, and the inside should of a pot form, here it’s a light angled cut. Mine is a Glaser.

Shear scraper. An old roundnose with a long side grind on the left side, used tilted for a very light evening cut on the inside of an open form.

Parting tool. Sears makes a great one, narrow and thin, but too short for much of my work, so every few years I take an old Rockwell 14″ planer blade, grind a diamond profile and then a V tip, slightly skewed. Works for light shaping of the outside bottom curve.

1/4″ roundnose, for beginning the inside of an enclosed pot form. I have one from Sorby that has lasted years, holds a great edge.

Stewart armbrace handle, with straight cutter I have the offset tip as well, and almost never use it.. Great for stuff with an overhang of the tool under 6 or so inches.

Glaser 1″ skew, truing up the outside of a bowl if needed. Smoothing the curve.

Oneway Deep Hollowing System. For very deep bowls this is indispensable. Takes getting used to, and when I use it, I do a series.

3/4″ long and strong deep gouge, for roughing out bowls.

Slow speed grinder with pink 80 grit friable stone.

Add a flatter gouge for spindle work, and this is all you’ll need, IMO.

Sharpening – grind with a light touch and make shavings. If you can’t do it freehand w/o a jig, you’re not turning and sharpening enough!

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 25, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    An interesting selection of tools. I have done the same thing and have lots of tools I rarely use. For bowl work, my go to tool is a 5/8″ U gouge with an Irish grind. I would tend to disagree with the sharpening comment. While I can sharpen freehand, I’ve found using a jig to be much more consistent in maintaining my grind with little time required.

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