what kind of lathe chisel should I get?

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Forum topic by BobD posted 12-27-2010 06:44 PM 2143 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 4421 days

12-27-2010 06:44 PM

I got two Robert Sorby chisels for Christmas- a 1/2” bowl gouge and a 1/4” bowl gouge. I want to do some bowl turning and I think I need some sort of tool to remove the wood from the center of the bowl. What kind of chisel should I get? Is it a hollowing tool? Any suggestions for a complete set of bowl turning chisel
Also what are the specific uses for the bowl gouges that I do have? Are they used for rounding the outside of the bowl.

-- Bob, San Diego

6 replies so far

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 12-27-2010 06:59 PM

I would highly recommend taking a few wood turning classes at Rockler, woodcraft or your local community college. It will save you a lot of frustration and $$ in the long run. I have found out the hard way that there are several techniques required to use the various tools that are employed in the different facets of turning. There are several videos out there but in my opinion there’s nothing better than good old hands on training with an instructor. Once you get a good feel for how the various tools are used and whats comfortable for you then you will be better informed as to the tools you will need and the safer you will be. Just my two cents! Good luck and welcome to wood turning it’s very addictive!

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4083 days

#2 posted 12-27-2010 08:55 PM

First – Mike is right about taking some classes.

Second – You already have the primary tool for taking the wood out of a bowl, a bowl gouge. Some people like to use a bowl scraper to put the finishing touches on a bowl (before sanding).

As an FYI – One well known professional turner and instructor, Lyle Jamieson, uses nothing but a 1/2” bowl gouge when turning bowls.

There is a knack to it and that is where the classes come in.

It is also very important that you have a good way to sharpen your tools and that you learn the right way to sharpen a bowl gouge. If you don’t have a good sharpening system, I would advise you to get that before you think about other cutting tools.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Chiefk's profile


163 posts in 4779 days

#3 posted 12-28-2010 03:33 PM

I agree that instruction from an experienced woodworker will save you a lot of frustration. In addition to taking a woodturning class, you may want to check if there are any woodturning clubs in your area. My club has a mentor program, where one of the more experienced turners works one one one with a new member. In addition, we have a monthly workshop for new members. Most clubs will have a club library with instructional videos you can borrow. pkennedy

-- P Kennedy Crossville, TN

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3865 days

#4 posted 12-28-2010 03:45 PM

Two chisels, now that is luxury. :)

You only need one chisel.
Learn to sharpen.
If you want a scraper buy the thickest on you can get and learn to shear cut.
This also has a specific grind for this. I use the old Sorby profile and platform jig.
Saves making the chisel makers rich.
There is no substitute for a good teacher, they can teach you in a day what can take months to learn by yourself.
Most of all though, make shaving and have fun.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3831 days

#5 posted 12-29-2010 12:26 AM

!Hey Bob, Rich is on the money here with sharpening. If you go to and click on “newsletters” look for Sept 2009 page 10 & you will find a complete guide for sharpening all your chisels, it is set out very well, just ignore any reference to colour coded jigs, it’s the angles that are important.
Make sure you use the correct type of stone and keep the wheel dresser square for the best results
good luck, remember it’s all about , practice, practice & more practice

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 3785 days

#6 posted 12-29-2010 03:16 AM

My 1/4 bowl gouge is my go-to tool for any turning I do, both face and spindle. You have everything you need to do bowls already.

And the secret is, as has been mentioned, sharpening. Learn how to put what is called an “Irish grind” or “Side grind” on it (it’s an even more swept back type of fingernail profile) and how to maintain it (there are multiple free jig plans available online, or you can buy a Wolverine) you will have everything you need.

Taking classes would help the most. I’m self taught, and the books that helped me most are Richard Raffan’s set of 3: “Turning Bowls”, “Turning Boxes”, and “Turning Basics”(iirc the title). Once I got a little more advanced “Ellsworthy on Turning” was a great help.

-- Nate,

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