Sharpening turning gouges

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Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 03-17-2011 03:18 AM 1931 views 2 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3032 days

03-17-2011 03:18 AM

I need some help with sharpening my gouges. Does anyone use wet stones to sharpen their gouges?

7 replies so far

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2625 days

#1 posted 03-17-2011 03:50 AM

No it is much too slow. I use a low speed grinder and the Wolverine Varigrind system.

-- Barbara

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3054 days

#2 posted 03-17-2011 04:00 AM

Turning tools really dont need as fine of an edge as chisels and planes, because with the power assistance of the lathe, you can cut easily with even a dull edge, and a fine edge just gets knocked off and dulled instantly anyway. that being said, I like to keep my tools sharp for a good finish cut, just keep a 2”x3.25” diamond honing card (medium grit) in my pocket to sharpen the edge, and every few months I freshen up the bevel with the grinder.
keep in mind that unless you have really really good, top of the line gouges, you will be honing the edge at least once an hour, so you can really waste time if you try to sharpen them the way you would sharpen a plane iron.

View Alphonse's profile


7 posts in 2654 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 04:30 AM

Tormek here but for years I used a grinder and whetstones to freshen.

-- Alphonse

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2625 days

#4 posted 03-17-2011 11:40 AM

Good and frequent sharpening is essential for a good clean cut. A dull gouge will not cut cleanly and the result will be a terrible surface. By frequent I mean in general at least every 20 min. With some wood, sharpening is required much more frequently than the average. I suggest you check out the following articles:

Be very careful of You Tube information as along with the good are some really terrible and even dangerous practices.
Barbs can probably suggest a really good sharpening book for you to read.

-- Barbara

View McKinneyMike's profile


80 posts in 2626 days

#5 posted 03-17-2011 01:19 PM

My personal favorite for sharpening bowl gouges is the Wolverine System.

-- McKinney Hardwood Lumber --Specializing in exotic and figured hardwood lumber -McKinney, TX

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4050 days

#6 posted 03-17-2011 04:05 PM

There are good sharpening books, but very little is included on sharpening turning gouges, as they are specialty items with a whole ‘culture’ of their own. The best, very best, reference I’ve had for learning to sharpen has been the Sharpening video from the American Association of Woodturners. If you don’t already belong, I’d highly recommend it. They have many helpful resources for beginners.

The AAW website:

Their video has several experts showing on video how to approach the grinder, how to handle the different tools involved, and what pressure to use (a beginner’s common flaw.)
I agree with Barbara, sharpening at the grinder, very lightly, is a constant thing. Honing with files works to freshen up an edge, but creating the necessary burr and keeping the tool truly sharp requires the grinder in most cases. Any time I experience tear out, it’s back to the grinder.


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3039 days

#7 posted 03-17-2011 04:44 PM

Yes, you can turn with a slightly dull gouge, but you will not get good results. For clean cuts you must have sharp tools. Like others, I prefer the Wolverine system and I use the vari-grind attachment for my bowl gouges that I sharpen in a fingernail pattern.

Essentially, I only use 3 tools – the Easy Rougher, a bowl gouge and a scraper. When working with really hard woods (which is most of the time), I sharpen my bowl gouge and scraper ever 10 minutes or less. It takes less than a minute to sharpen either tool if everything is set up right.

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

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