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 In Techniques

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Bowl turning is a blast! Thanks to advances in lathes and tooling, lots of woodworkers have now discovered how fun it is to turn a hunk of green wood into a beautiful bowl. Start to finish, it only takes a few hours, and the wood is usually free.

Whatever the bowl’s shape, you need one basic tool: a bowl gouge. I’ve been asked countless questions about how to buy a bowl gouge during my 40 years as a professional instructor. There’s a lot of confusion about what a bowl gouge really is, how it’s sized and ground, and which type is best. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What is a Bowl Gouge?
A modern bowl gouge has three parts: a rod, flute and handle. A solid round rod makes the tool very strong. The rod’s flute is generally a deeply cut oval, which improves the tool’s chip-cutting action. A bowl gouge usually has a large handle, about 16″ long, for increased leverage.

A bowl gouge is often confused with a roughing gouge.


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