Bowl Turning Tools: These 2 Are All You Need

Bowl Turning Tools: These 2 Are All You Need

You only need two tools.

So, let me tell you about these two tools you need to make a bowl from start to finish.

The Two Essential Bowl Turning Tools

Here’s the thing, so obviously you have your wood lathe. You can now make any shape of bowl from start to finish with just two tools:

  • A bowl gouge
  • A bowl scraper

That’s it. With these two tools, you can do everything.

It’s all about the way that they cut that makes them so versatile.

Bowl Gouges: Getting Started

Bowl gouges are the king of woodturning tools. You can do everything with them.

Bowl gouges are the Swiss army knife of woodturning.

With a bowl gouge, you can:

  • Rough out your bowl
  • Do all your shaping
  • Get a glass smooth surface finish

So, they’re the only tool you need for the vast majority of the work.

Bowl Scrapers: The Secret to a Perfect Surface Finish

Although you can use a bowl gouge to get a smooth surface finish, the best way to do it is by using a bowl scraper.

Bowl scrapers are so much easier to use. They’re the next best thing to sandpaper.

And, they’re actually faster than sandpaper, too.

So, you can get a perfect surface finish in a fraction of the time it would take with sandpaper.

How to Use Bowl Scrapers

To get a good surface finish with a bowl scraper, you just need to use it properly.

Don’t worry, it’s not hard. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Tilt the tool handle down a little bit to get it cutting
2. Roll the scraper over to increase the depth of cut
3. Use the corners to get a finer cut and a smoother surface finish

That’s it.

Just remember, that you need to keep the scraper perfectly level with the tool rest. If you tilt it up or down, it won’t work. You’ll just get a bad cut.

Bowl Gouge Sizes

Now, one thing you should know about bowl gouges is that they come in different sizes.

The size of bowl gouge you need depends on the size of the bowl you want to make.

So, here’s the general rule of thumb:

  • Use a 1/2″ bowl gouge for bowls up to 6″ in diameter
  • Use a 3/4″ bowl gouge for bowls up to 9″ in diameter
  • Use a 1″ bowl gouge for bowls over 9″ in diameter

That way you won’t have to worry about your bowl gouge not being up to the task of shaping a big bowl.

Bowl Scraper Size

Woodturning bowl scrapers come in various sizes, all designed to remove excess material from turned bowls. A common range covers up from 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches for the width, which refers to the cutting edge size. However, some larger or smaller ones are available depending on specific needs.

A wide scraper, like a 2-inch, is ideal for scraping larger bowl interiors. Sizes in the middle, like the 1 or 1.5-inch scrapers, are versatile for both larger and smaller bowls. Smaller sizes under 1 inch are great for detail work or smaller bowls.

In addition to width, another essential factor is length. Bowl scraper handles can generally vary from 10 to 20 inches long, affecting the tool’s control and depth reach within the bowl.

Keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all projects. The specific size you need will depend on your project requirements. And regardless of size, remember to keep the tool sharp for efficient and safe work.

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