Woodworking Talk banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd get my moneys worth out of this one and ask two questions in one thread.

I'm about to start turning bowls and need to purchase another carving tool or two. Right now I've got one of the typical inexpensive 3 piece carbide sets off Amazon (pictured below w/o inserts) and from the videos I've been watching I'm gonna need a regular HSS bowl gouge and parting tool, and I'm wondering what size of each of these I'll need. I believe the size parting tool I've seen is described as 3/16"? so I suppose that's the size I'll order. And so far as the gouge goes I've seen them (in videos) in a number of different sizes. The turner I watch the most uses a 5/8" gouge but I'm wondering if that's gonna be too large to start off with. Since I'm just starting out my main concern is not doing anything quickly so if the only advantage of the larger 5/8" gouge is speed then I could probably do without it. Also, I've seen examples of dovetails being made in tenons with much smaller gouges, which is something I prob need to consider. Is there a middle size gouge that would do well for general bowl turning and tenon dove tails? What size parting tool and gouge would be best? Trying to save $ so if 1 gouge will do instead of 2 different sizes then that would make my day.

and...

I'm sourcing locally felled trees and have come across a really big log I can't get through with my 14" chain saw without being able to rotate is to get the bottom of the cut. My best idea is to get a log moving/rotating tool I've only seen in videos. Not sure what it's called but it's about a 5-6' long pole with a large hook attached about 1.5' from the end. Hook the log then turn it with leverage. What are these things called and what's the cheapest place to get one?

430037
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,674 Posts
I have seen many people turning bowls using carbide tools. You may want to give it a try.

I don't have enough bowl turning experience to recommend a specific bowl gouge size. Most experienced woodturners recommend that beginners start with smaller bowls first, hence smaller bowl gouges. Here are some things to think about with respect to bowl gouges:

The size of a given bowl gouge depends on who you are asking. Some people (UK) measure the width of the inner flute (the inner channel). Other people (mostly US) measure the full width of the rod itself. The US 5/8 inch bowl gouge that you mentioned would be called a 1/2 inch bowl gouge in the UK. The problem is when you buy woodturning tools in the US, you don't know which system they used to label the bowl gouge. Did they use US sizing or copy the UK label?

My first HSS turning tools were a six piece set from Robert Sorby, made in the UK. Even though I bought the set at Rockler in the US, the tool gouge sizes listed on the Rockler website were the Sorby's UK (flute) measurements. The set includes a (UK) 3/8 inch bowl gouge, which would be called a "1/2 inch bowl gouge" in the US. It also came with a 1/8 inch parting tool.
https://www.robert-sorby.co.uk/a67hs6t-six-piece-turning-tool-set

If you are buying a HSS bowl gouge, then you will also need a way to sharpen it. It won't last long before it needs a touch-up. If you watch professional bowl turning demonstrations, you will often see the pros stop and touch up their bowl gouges multiple times for a single bowl. Keeping your turning tools sharp is especially important for beginners.

Here is a great resource for learning about bowl turning. The website has changed in the last few months. Now it is oriented to selling books and courses. If you hunt around, you can find the old great articles that get you started - they are still on the website.
https://turnawoodbowl.com
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,159 Posts
A 3/16 parting tool and a 5/8 bowl gouge are good to start with. Between those 2 and the carbide scrapers you have you will be off to a good start. I would advise good tools to start because you will learn fairly quickly and find you never use the little stuff anymore. Then again, everyone is different.
I would also advise in getting a less expensive set of spindle gouges also. somewhere in the $80 to $120 range, but definitely no less than $80. Normally 6 to 8 tools in that set. Sometimes you will need then to get to base of a bowl the way you want it, They usually come with spindle gouges which usually cant be used on bowls but the useful ones are the parting tool, the spear pointed tool and the skew chisels.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,159 Posts
Learning the proper way to sharpen the tools is critical. I always used to say "you cant become a good woodturner until you become a good sharpener first. That is especially true when turning very green wood. The bowl will be changing shape from warping while you are turning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice guys. Been watching a fair amount of Kent at Turn a Wood Bowl youtube channel. He mentions his website quote often so I better prioritize tool sharpening and take his course like you mention Tony B. Thanks for the spindle gouge set suggestion too. Haven't quite figure out what the spindle in the name means though. I suppose it means gouges meant for turning longer wooden spindles.

Any advice on a wood sharpening system. I've got a cheaper 6" bench grinder from HF but I've seen setups with special 8" wheels so I better be prepared to spend some more $$$. I'll be getting a spindle set as well so I'll need to be able to sharpen those as well as a 55 deg swept back 1/2" bowl gouge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,674 Posts
Thanks for the advice guys. Been watching a fair amount of Kent at Turn a Wood Bowl youtube channel. He mentions his website quote often so I better prioritize tool sharpening and take his course like you mention Tony B. Thanks for the spindle gouge set suggestion too. Haven't quite figure out what the spindle in the name means though. I suppose it means gouges meant for turning longer wooden spindles.

Any advice on a wood sharpening system. I've got a cheaper 6" bench grinder from HF but I've seen setups with special 8" wheels so I better be prepared to spend some more $$$. I'll be getting a spindle set as well so I'll need to be able to sharpen those as well as a 55 deg swept back 1/2" bowl gouge.
As I said above, if you have the three carbide turning tools, you have enough to get started with most turning. Many people get by for years with only the carbide tools.

There are two types of wood turning: spindle turning and face turning. Making a pen, pepper grinder, or table leg is spindle turning. Making a bowl or platter is face turning.

Spindle gouges look similar to bowl gouges. They are not as thick and strong. Spindle gouges can only be used for spindle turning, using spindle gouges for face turning (e.g., bowls) is dangerous. There are minor exceptions - some people use spindle gouges for shaping the dovetails for bowl tenons and mortices. You could easily use your diamond carbide tool for that.

I am not sure what a "spindle gouge set" is. It must be a set for only spindle turning, but they can't be very common. What I see often are HSS (high speed steel) turning tool sets. They have a combination of HSS tools for both spindle and face turning. My Sorby set has a roughing gouge (spindle only), spindle gouge (spindle only), skew chisel (spindle only), bowl gouge, round nose scraper, and a parting tool.

The two 6 inch bench grinders at Harbor Freight are not suitable for HSS turning tool sharpening. They are both typical, common high speed grinders running at 3450 RPM. A high speed grinder like that can be a useful tool for the shop, but unfortunately it is not a good tool for sharpening HSS turning tools. It will overheat them, ruining the temper. It will damage the turning tools by burning them up.

-> The proper grinder to sharpen HSS turning tools is a slow speed grinder or a wet grinder (like Tormek or its imitations. Here is one example of a slow speed grinder, but you can find them from many brands and sources:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,159 Posts
A spindle gouge set is a informal name for a set of tools for turning spindles. Usually 2 (spindle) gouges, a parting tool, 2 skewed chisels, 1 round nose scraper and spear pointed scraper which I can't remember the name of. Used very little in bowl turning and can be handy in shaping the base or adding a decorative cut into the bowl.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top