help / advice on turning inside of a bowl

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Forum topic by Chris Peroni posted 10-08-2013 03:18 AM 2494 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2993 days

10-08-2013 03:18 AM

Hello all,

It’s been about 16 years since I last turned a piece of wood on a lathe, and it seems to me it used to be a lot easier to clear out the inside of a bowl way back then.

Here’s where I’m at, in no particular order:
-about 8” diameter piece (about the same length)
-wood unknown but seems like pine or maybe fir
-cut from a log which has been sitting on the ground for years and had a colony of ants living in it.
-very dry
-outside is turned
-using this lathe:
-tools (but missing the 3/4 gouge):

I rough turned the outside at my slowest speed of 575, cleaned it up at 980. I am trying to clear the inside of the bowl at 575 because any faster is not cool. I’ve tried with a 1/2” gouge & round nose because they are the types I’m used to doing this with. I can’t get comfortable with the clearing though – feels jumpy and like the tool might get thrown from my hands.

What am I getting wrong?Everything maybe? I feel like I should be using a better and bigger gouge – is that what I’m missing? Perhaps I have the cutting edge ground wrong (doesn’t feel like it though- when I turned the outside it was quite nice cutting).

I am also wondering how best to overcome the little voids left by the ants. Well, in fact one is not so little – it is about 1” wide and 2” deep – another spot where I worry about the tool catching and being pulled in.

If I had my shop teacher to ask I know Mr. Roberts would set me straight in no time.

Thanks in advance

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

6 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2954 posts in 3189 days

#1 posted 10-08-2013 11:40 AM

Are you using a bowl or spindle gouge? A sharp ½” bowl gouge with bevel angle of between 45 to 55 degrees should have no problems.

A spindle gouge with 30 to 40 degree bevel angle can tend to grab or skip if forcing the cut. Are you dealing with rings of early- late wood? Slow down and let tool cut.

A round nose scraper with a bevel angle between 55 to 88 degrees should also cut well with proper burr and holding tool correctly.

Just concentrate on getting your bowl turned, and sanded before worrying about filling voids.

-- Bill

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1774 posts in 2784 days

#2 posted 10-08-2013 11:49 AM

How much overhang do you have on the nose of your tool from the tool rest? That jumpy situation tells me you don’t have your tool rest positioned properly.
As WW said, forget about the bug tracks unless they are too large and present a saftey hazard. ........... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Chris Peroni's profile

Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2993 days

#3 posted 10-09-2013 11:30 PM

I keep the tool rest as close as possible without touching.

Regarding the voids – I was not thinking of filling any. What I meant was given that the 1” long by 2” deep one is on the face, and I need to be careful not to have a cutter get pulled into it.

I have been trying to cut into the face with the round nose and a gouge – these are what I used to use in school. However, I have been looking up bowl gouges and have 3 sizes on order now, made by Hurricane tools. Any thoughts on that brand?

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

View lew's profile


13332 posts in 4810 days

#4 posted 10-10-2013 12:44 AM

After looking at a pix of your tools, I believe part of your problem might be that the tool set is primarily meant for spindle turning. Looks like a bowl gouge would help you. That said, I do a lot of inside bowl turning with a round nose bowl scraper. It is less aggressive that a gouge.
Another thing, as mentioned above, is the placement of your tool rest. Move the tool rest support a little more to the right of the bowl and then turn the tool rest so the right end of the rest is inside the opening of the bowl and close to the side of the bowl nearest you. Experiment with this placement as you work your way down inside the bowl. The height of the rest will vary with the tool you are using. On the inside of the bowl, you want the scraper edge to contact the surface slightly above the center line- which is just the opposite from when using the scraper on the outside of the bowl.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1774 posts in 2784 days

#5 posted 10-11-2013 01:38 AM

Chris, you mentioned you were concerned about the void pulling you tool into it. Think about this. You are turning at 575 rpm. That means you tool is hitting that void 9 1/2 times per second. I don’t think you need to worry about voids. The tool is doing it’s job of cutting the wood as it rotates.. Don’y worry…. Turn and be happy…. Make sure you wear a face sheid, though…........ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View BalloonGuy's profile


93 posts in 2978 days

#6 posted 10-11-2013 02:30 AM

Chris, I’d second what Lew and Bill (Wildwood) said. You need the heavier strength of bowl gouges. I’ll also agree that using a scraper (as Lew says) is easier than a gouge to clean up the insides.

I recommend Richard Raffan’s book “Turning Wood” – it’s a great reference and is really helpful diagramming where to use each type of tool in a turning project.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

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