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Sharpening Turning Tools

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I've spent some time watching the Jeff Farris video and looking on the internet and came away very confused about the type of tools and the various grinds.  I am a novice turner and will initially be focused on spindle turning.  I have a PM 90 lathe and some existing tools.  I separated the tools into major categories of gouges, skews, parting tools, scrapers and who knows :).  The biggest area of confusion for me right now is the various types of gouges and grinds.  In my mind I have categorized gouge types as Spindle and bowl.  Within spindle I have roughing, standard and detail - the difference being the grind.

Of the gouges I have (6 total) 2 are identified as spindle gouges - the others are a question mark to me.  I think a bowl gouge has a much deeper flute than a spindle gouge but some of mine are hard to tell.  I'm attaching some pictures.  I think all of them are spindle gouges but I may be mistaken?

Any thoughts?  Once I know what I have we can discuss grinds


They all look like spindle gouges to me, too, with the possible exception of the second picture. Since you are just starting out as a turner, pick a gouge and shape/sharpen it to the standard profile as shown in the Tormek manual - 2-65-A. Notice that those settings are for standard profile spindle and bowl gouges. The bottom gouge in your pictures looks like a version of a spindle roughing gouge, so sharpen it as one. Spindle and bowl gouges can be used for spindles and bowls, with the exception of any gouge that has a flat tang instead of a round shank - those are for spindle use only. A flat tang is not strong enough and can break when used on a bowl, possibly causing injury.

If you are in the USA, check here to see if you can find a local club. The members there will be able to provide lots of help.

Be careful, woodturning is quite addicting.



I catalogued a lot of information that ma be useful.  It’s at

Kind regards,

Twisted Trees:
All spindle gouges, and a mix of fingernail and standard grind. This is a good thing for starting out, number them and keep notes as you experiment with different grind setup's. You can then compare them in use to find your perfect recipe. Word of caution, at least one of them is the poor quality type given away with cheap lathes, the metal is inferior so only compare immediately after sharpening.


TT - I'm curious whixh is the low quality steel - I think I know but not sure.

As far as grinds go - there is lots of terminology for spindle gouges - standard, fingernail, detail, roughing.  I need to get a better understanding of this but I think

Roughing is a simple bevel with no wings - this provides more meat at the bevel for square to round turning (not sure if this is referred to as standard?)

Fingernail - the sides of the flutes are swept back to allow better access to spindle details.  there are varying degrees of the swept back wings

Detail - just a more extreme version of fingernail



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