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!