Bowl Hollowing

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Forum topic by Pop posted 05-15-2011 08:20 PM 1562 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3910 days

05-15-2011 08:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: turning

Hi guys,

Ok, I’m not a bowl turner. I can do almost anything with a spindle but bowls I have problems. I was playing a few minutes ago with a little walnut blank about 4 in. diam. X 3 in. I went at it totally backwards. Did the bottom before the top & boring. The idea was to make a small Navajo style bowl. I got everything fixed untill I started the hollowing process. 1st. I bored the main opening with a 1-1/2 in. Forstner. I then started to hollow. I have a very nice 3/4 in. fingernail grind bowl gouge. Every time I try to use this thing I have trouble with it grabbing & snatching. This happens if I’m aggressive or slow & cautious. What am I doing wrong? Is the gouge too big? Am I not using the right angle of attack? What gives?


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

4 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4182 days

#1 posted 05-16-2011 08:42 PM

I’m not too good with a bowl gouge either. Try your round-nosed scraper. Not as efficient, but a lot more forgiving.

I do most all of my turning these days with the Easy tools. Greatest invention since sliced bread. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 2868 days

#2 posted 05-17-2011 01:20 AM

Long time turner here. Without seeing your techique, it’s pretty hard to judge what you’re doing wrong – but 3/4” is damned wide for a bowl gouge. 3/4 sounds a lot more like a rouging gouge used for spindle work.

How are you entering the cut? You said you made an opening with a forstner bit? This leads me to speculate that you might be starting your cut into long grain from the middle well and working out, and if so, that would certainly lead to catches and other bad results, especially with a large cutting surface like a 3/4” gouge. With a proper bowl gouge and proper technique, there should be no need to make a starter well with a forstner bit, unless you’re cutting a well specially to set your hollowing depth.

I’m making a lot of assumptions here, from very little data. My recommendation is to take a look on YouTube for basic bowl gouge techniques, specially a simple sweeping cut from rim to center across the face grain.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View Arthouse's profile


250 posts in 2614 days

#3 posted 05-17-2011 02:06 AM

Pop, been there done that . One your using a large tool for a small job but I ve seen old turners use that for small jobs. They have the exsperience from knowing how to grind the right angle on the gouge. From what you’ve said I can almost see your bowl gouge is not ground right. This is the hard part. The gouge almost needs to be ground at a 90 degree to the grinder . Grind it not from the edge but from the bottom up towards the edge this is where you are catching it’s not at the right angle. I was always a frustrated turner untill a old wise turner who new David Elsworth showed me that technique to grind and now my 3/4 and 3/8 bowl gouge is all I need for every type of cut. Haven’t used a scraper in years. They both have the same long straight cut down from the edge. With that angle you sheer cut and scrape all with the same tool. Good Luck Pop.

-- "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind but the wind and sun are the healing factors of the heart

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2756 days

#4 posted 05-17-2011 02:13 AM

The 3/4” measurement might be about right if it is taken from the outside. If the measurement is 3/4” inside the flute then that would seem kinda big for a bowl gouge.
One thing I would mention, and I am assuming that you are grinding the fingernail profile, the mid section of the grind has to be higher than the tip and the end of the grind where the ground section meets the flute edge. I don’t know if I am making myself clear. If you post a picture of the gouge it would be helpful in offering advice.

-- Mel,

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