I need help choosing woodturning tools

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Forum topic by aussiedave posted 03-28-2014 04:47 PM 4194 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2552 days

03-28-2014 04:47 PM

Hi Jumberjocks, I need help in choosing turning tools for a day one week one woodturner. I have inserted a picture showing what I already have bought but know that I still need a few more. I just want some advice as to what I need just to get started and then maybe what I will need as I get more experienced in turning. I still have to get some more different jaws for my Super Nova 2 lathe chuck, I may even get a second chuck. I look at pics on the web and to me not knowing much about the tools is bowl gouges and spindle gouges look the same to me. As you can see from the pic I have some carbide cutter tools and have had some fun with those seeing how they work. I have a roughing gouge and a couple of other tools. The second pic was just what I did on day one trying my hand at shaping things and it is much harder than all the videos on youtube making turning look so easy. So any advise you experienced turners can give me on some more turning chisels for a beginner would be much appreciated.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

23 replies so far

View moke's profile


1538 posts in 3505 days

#1 posted 03-28-2014 05:22 PM

It looks like you have a great start. The one thing I have noticed about turning is there is always another tool and a better method….When a friend told me that the cheapest thing about turning was the lathe, I thought he was joking!

If you are going to do any bowls you might consider some bowl gouges. The insert tools are great, I have made a number of those myself, but I find they tear the end grain some in green wood. They can remove material very fast though….I like to remove the inside of a bowl with the carbide insert tool, then”smooth” it up with a fingernail grind gouge. Some of my friends use conventional grind gouges for smoothing too. I have another friend that only uses the fingernail/celtic grind tools for bowls.

Just a thought…

-- Mike

View luv2learn's profile


3049 posts in 3031 days

#2 posted 03-28-2014 05:53 PM

Dave, I am a novice turner also but I recently joined a wood turning group that meets once a month. The instructor used 3/8” and 1/2” swept back finger nail ground bowl gouges for 90% of his turning. I asked him about it and he said that it was his go to tools. I guess I have to agree with him because that is the tool I reach for the most after using a roughing gouge to rough in a project. Mike is also right that their are a slew of specialty tools out there. I guess I have a tendency to be a minimalist when it comes to using tools. Anyway, I didn’t see a bowl gouge in your arsenal. The bowl gouges have deeper flutes than the spindle gouges. Well, that’s my two cents for what it is worth. I think you are going to get as many varied answers as there are turners.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View TheDane's profile


5812 posts in 4391 days

#3 posted 03-28-2014 06:14 PM

I just want to underscore what Mike and Lee have said … and add one more suggestion. Make sure any local turning club you join is an AAW (American Association of Woodturners) affiliate.

To find an AAW affiliate, go to

I would also suggest you join AAW in addition to a local chapter. AAW offers tremendous resources for woodturners of all skill levels. The member forums on AAW’s website are great places to ask questions, exchange information, and get advice from other turners on tools, techniques, etc.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2552 days

#4 posted 03-28-2014 06:24 PM

Thanks Mike…I will have to look up what those different grinds are because at the moment I have no idea what they are, but have heard them mentioned before. thanks for Your comment Mike.

Hi Lee…yes no doubt every one will have a favorite tool or set of tools and I will get varied choices. It does seem that a couple of bowl gouges are going to be a must have. It is just the types of grinds I am going to have to check up on. Thanks for checking my post and leaving some info Lee.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2552 days

#5 posted 03-28-2014 06:35 PM

Hi Gerry…I have previously done a search for AAW affiliated clubs but I guess being in Australia there does not seem to be any. I have emailed one of the larger wood turning clubs here in West Aust but as yet not had a reply.Would it be to any advantage to join AAW if I am in Australia?
Thanks Gerry for you input, every bit helps.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View TheDane's profile


5812 posts in 4391 days

#6 posted 03-28-2014 06:36 PM

Dave—Whoops … just noticed you are in Australia. Try these guys:

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wildwood's profile


2852 posts in 2863 days

#7 posted 03-28-2014 08:57 PM

Might see if know any people here

Looks like you are set up for spindle work minus 10 & 13 mm spindle gouges. A good 13mm bowl gouge would be nice for both roughing and finishing turning. I like a 16 mm bowl gouge for roughing out bowl blanks.

I do not like carbide tools, think conventional tools best bang for the bucks.

-- Bill

View Mark's profile


1039 posts in 2703 days

#8 posted 03-28-2014 09:00 PM

I’m pretty much a newb myself, and yer right about the you tube vids. Practice, practice, practice. That’s all it takes. I would add a couple of bowl gouges to the collection. Good luck with your turning and keep at it.

-- Mark

View BobWemm's profile


2834 posts in 2654 days

#9 posted 03-29-2014 12:14 AM

Hi Dave, I agree that the main other tools you may need are bowl gouges, I think that the fingernail shape is the most versatile of them all and probably a small spindle gouge might be handy.
It is important that you “KNOW” how to use these chisels correctly, I don’t so I use my carbide cutters for probably 95% of my work. All my fancy chisels sit there and watch.
As far as jaws go I would recommend a set of “Cole” jaws for the base finishing, and if you can go there as many chucks as you can. I have 2 x Nova 2’s and an el cheapo scroll chuck for the Cole Jaws. That saves a lot of time changing jaws.
(my first item was a captured ring and I used a “Screw Driver” to get in behind the ring) Anything is possible.

Hope this helps,

-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2778 posts in 4412 days

#10 posted 03-29-2014 12:17 AM

G’day Dave, you are getting some good advise mate, but don’t overlook the skew chisels. Many forums to join on the net which gives all the info you need. AAW, Woodturning Resources and some Aussie forums you can sign up with. Terry Smith a WA native is a nice bloke and a great turner, he has web page and I am sure he would be willing to advise. I learnt all from the net but never followed the videos, always did my own thing, just go for it Dave, sorry can’t advise on turning tools but be selective, I just purchases some because they had a good write up in the advert. good for the experts not for a d..h…. like me. Look forward to seeing your work buddy.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View MNgary's profile


318 posts in 3145 days

#11 posted 03-29-2014 01:08 AM

If I were only allowed 10 turning tools . . .
In general: 19 mm roughing gouge, 5 mm diamond parting tool, 10 mm bedan, 32 mm oval skew, and 19 mm oval skew.
For spindle turning I would add: 13 mm fingernail grind gouge and 10 mm fingernail grind gouge.
For bowls I would add: 13 mm fingernail grind bowl gouge, 10 mm fingernail grind bowl gouge, and 6 mm fingernail bowl gouge.

Personally, I suggest only considering the various hollowing and other specialty tools after you’ve found your interests/niche in woodturning.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View doubleDD's profile


9339 posts in 2771 days

#12 posted 03-29-2014 03:33 AM

Hi Dave, I like your practice turnings. Drill a hole in them and you have your first handle.
I agree with others as far as a bowl gouge or perhaps a more forgiving fingernail gouge. You have a good start with the tools you have. It’s a matter of which direction you decide to take your turning
By watching different videos you will get info on different tools ideas and techniques. Your carbide tools can do most of the work, sometimes require more sanding depending on the wood choice. You don’t want to buy a bunch of different tools until you really get a feel of the ones you have. You will end up with some that sit around a lot.
Hey just think, in another year you will be making your own tools. Take care buddy.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2552 days

#13 posted 03-29-2014 11:33 AM

Thanks every one for chipping in with valuable advice and tool choices, it is very much appreciated. Lots to think about and things like types of grinds best used for turning and how to do them. One again thanks very much for having a say.


-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View mpax356's profile


81 posts in 3221 days

#14 posted 03-29-2014 07:22 PM

You need a 3/8” spindle gouge and a 1/2” bowl gouge (US measurement) or 3/8” British bowl gouge. If you can make your own handle look at getting the Sorby tools that come unhandled to fit their Soverign system for best savings on a quality HSS tool. Hartville tools has great price with free shipping. If you belong to a club that has enrolled in their club discount program, you can save another 15%. Looks like you are off to a good start. You might want to add a couple of scrapers in a while.

-- MPax, Atlanta

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2778 posts in 4412 days

#15 posted 03-29-2014 11:35 PM

Gave you a bum steer Dave, CHRIS SMITH not Terry is your man in WA. Nice bloke and a great wood turner.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

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