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Best methods and wheel for sharpening bowl gouges

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Hello All - I am using the SVD-185 to sharpen my bowl gouges, then using the leather wheel.  My gouges are standard M2 steel (Robert Sorby).  It seems that I can't get a razor sharp edge.  I get a sharp edge for sure, but it seems less sharp than what my buddy gets on his 1750 rpm grinder with a CBN wheel.  To me, it almost seems like the leather honing wheel dulls the edge just a little by honing the outside.  I wonder if I should get the LA-120 profile leather wheel and only hone the inside?

I have graded my stone with the SP-650 which helped.  What stones work best with bowl gouges?


I recommend the SB grindstone as it works better for harder steels like HSS and especially for M2.  That is what I've used for many years and it works well.

I sharpen often, and usually only hone when making the final passes on the piece I'm turning. 

The leather wheel works OK, but I prefer a paper wheel on a high speed grinder and jeweler's rouge.  That works especially well for woods that are softer and take a find cut (like walnut, cherry, maple, etc.).  The process i follow is documented at this link :

Here is a diagram:

Last recommendation:  when you can, move to the SVD-186.  It is a really strong improvement from the SVD-185.  (Then you can dedicate your SVD-185 to the carbide bits used for hollowing.)

Good luck,

Rich - Thanks for the reply, good info!  Do you use the LA-120 profile wheel at all for gouges?

I had the privilege of taking turning classes from Glenn Lucas and Nick Agar, both Tormek Friends Glenn rarely honed his gouges and Nick regularly honed. The profile wheels are important to honing, since the burr is going to be inside the flute.



Mike brings up two good points :

* it is a real mixed bag on who hones often vs who does not, &
* there is probably value in at least a quick honing pass on the inside of the gouge.
I’ve not done any tests to see, but I would bet that there are some key variables at work here:

* how the tool was sharpened :  from the horizontal position with the grindstone turning away from the tool (my general preference), or the vertical position with the grindstone turning towards the stone,
* the type of metal (e.g., high carbon steel vs HSS like M4 or M42 ... and even more exotic options like powdered metal, cryogenic, or even nitrided metal), and
* the wood being turned (e.g., soft woods probably benefit from honing more than super hard woods)
My advice is this :  try honing vs. not.   Also try vertical vs. horizontal sharpening.  See which work best for you.

The real question is this : what gets you back to using the tool in a way that you will sharpen often?  Turning tools must be resharpened often, and your sharpening practice must facilitate that.  Otherwise, you will end up using a tool too long between sharpenings.

Let us know what you find out.

Kind regards,


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