Step 3: Sharpening the gouge

Wow, you could write a book on the gouge but trust me I will not.  What I will explain is the types of gouges:
1.  Roughing Gouge - This is a large gouge with high sides used for rouging stock into a round shape.  This gouge is typically ground straight across.
2.  Continental Gouge - This is the gouge usually included in cheap tool sets, it is similar to a roughing gouge but has much lower sides.  Expect to find this gouge shoved in a corner with a straight grind, this is a shame because I find the continental gouge with a mild fingernail grind to be an incredible forgiving chisel capable of producing a finish almost as good as a skew.
3.  Spindle gouge - This is usually ground from a solid bar of steel with a wide shallow grind.  These work great with all kinds of grinds for different situations.
4.  Bowl gouge - These beasts are ground from a solid bar steel and can be found with all kinds of grinds on them, I have models with straight grinds, fingernail grinds, and aggressive swept back designs. Different areas and bowl types call for different grinds, I find a swept back design great for hogging out a bowl but too aggressive for finishing cuts and usually switch to a milder grind.

Those are the gouges so let's talk about the grinds.

For most all gouges around 60 to 70 degrees is a good starting angle to grind, as you get more comfortable or just want a more aggressive chisel you can go below 60 degrees but be careful these things can take a lot of wood off fast and you need a lathe with some good horsepower to hog off that find of wood.

The most basic and simple way to grind a gouge is to set the angle on the flat tool rest right and then roll the tool back and forth until sharpened, this creates a tool with a straight cutting edge and high wings.

Every other grind takes either experience of a good jig, there are many brands of jigs to choose from or you can do like me and make your own jig.  Just do a quick google search for "homemade fingernail grinding jig" without the quotes for plenty of ideas.  As you can see in the pictures of my jig I have marks for the angle of the arm, basically the further forward the arm is the more swept back the grind.  So for a basic continental gouge I will have the arm all the way back for a basic almost straight fingernail grind, for a swept back bowl gouge I will have the arm all the way forward and in between those two extremes is everything else.

As you can see I have a block of wood mounted on the grinder platform, this is my gauge on how far the tool extends from the jig, I use 2" for everything, it just keeps things simple.  

So once you have your tool in the jig and the arm of the jig adjusted to where you want it, adjust the v-arm of the grinder rest in our out to get the right front angle on the grinding wheel.  Then  you simply start grinding swinging that tool handle side to side in a nice slow and smooth manner.  As you can see going back to the grinder every time you need to touch a tool up can be a pain which is going to lead into the next step. 
<p>I have a question concerning the radius of a round-nosed scraper. I recently bought a set of Hurricane round-nosed scrapers that included a 1 1/2&quot;, 1&quot;, 3/4&quot; and 1/2&quot; scraper. The nose radii are 15/16&quot;, 5/8&quot;, 1 1/4&quot; and 3/8&quot;, respectively, so the ratio of radius to blade width is the same for the two largest scrapers, slightly larger for the smallest, and insanely larger for the 3/4&quot; scraper. The 3/4&quot; blade is also significantly shorter than the other three. (See picture.)</p><p>Should I regrind the 3/4&quot; scraper's nose to something more in line with that of the other scrapers (about 7/16&quot;&ndash;1/2&quot;) or is there a reason for why it was made this way?</p>
As to whether you need to more than just grind turning tools, it's not as simple as you should just grind them or you should hone them till they shine. <br> <br>This article discusses this. <br> <br>http://woodturninglearn.net/articles/honingturningtools.htm
I have yet another reason for you to hate grinders.<br><br>You may not be aware of it but every time you mount a circular grinding wheel you should dress the wheel to true it up. They never quite run the same after being dismounted then remounted.<br><br>If you want your edges to last longer you should strop them. That stops the wire edge from bending over. If you can strop a wire off a sharpened edge then you know what you have is really sharp. I use leather charged with red rouge polish.<br><br>Another tip: put some super cleaner on your diamond hones for lubrication. Stuff like Super Clean by Castrol or Purple Power a knock off that is basically the same thing.<br><br>My sharpening routine goes grinder, synthetic diamonds, 4 grits, medium, then hard Arkansas stones, then stropping. Though once I have the geometry correct I don't usually grind anymore. I have Japanese water stones too but I don't use those for everything.<br><br>
Mounting circular grinding stones is something you should only do if you know what you are doing. They can explode when spinning due to overtightening and the like. <br> <br>BTW I think there is a lot of confusion in these comments between grinding and sharpening, the two are not the same! Pfred is correct turing tools should be stropped to remove the wire edge and then it is really sharp. making the face of the tool shiny makes a HUGE difference. <br> <br>Personally I prepare my tools on a Sorby belt linisher and then polish. Been doing this for years and have been turning professionally for years. <br> <br>Friger: grinding a turning chisel.... mmmm bet your tools dont last that long then ;)
Did you know that when turning the wire edge is what is doing the cutting? You don't need to strop a lathe chisel, the grinder is all you need. Call me wrong but I've spent too much time standing in wood curls to be mistaken about this. What you are doing is a fine job of making a carving chisel, and I would think you are an expert carver.
Thanks for the comment friger. Those oysters you smoked look great too, gonna have to try that myself! Down here on the west coast of Florida we smoke a lot of a fish called mullet to make dips or just eat straight, maybe I will grab some oysters next time I fire up the smoker.
When I lived in Florida we netted mullet for bait. I never knew you could eat the things!
They make great bait, but some of us brave folk on the west coast eat them too.
Yeah I lived on the east coast on the Indian River Drive so I had the Indian River in my front yard. Was nice, I had crabs for lunch just about every day. I used the mullet to bait the crab trap.
I guess you like to scrape then.
pfred,<br><br>I have the solution for dressing the wheel, I just don't remove it from the grinder ever. I do have a diamond dresser that I use from time to time to keep the face flat. I just didn't want to broach that subject since it is not directly related to the topic of lathe chisels and not being a metal worker I will leave grinder setup and maintenance to the true experts.<br><br>One of these days I might get around to stropping but the diamond is just so quick and easy and the edge the fine side leaves will not shave but it will pop hairs.For cleaning my diamond I just used dawn from time to time to clean it, seems to work ok and I like the stone dry so I can keep it in my pocket. I have water stones and oil stones too but I like the simplicity of this routine since I never have to leave the lathe I just pull the diamond stone out of my pocket a few quick swipes and I am ready to do my finishing cuts on the piece.<br><br>Now if I am sharpening a plane iron or a bench chisel I will go all the way to my 8000 grit water stone to make it shine, but that is another instructable.<br><br>Thanks for feedback.
Oh you have a diamond dresser do you? One I made maybe?<br> <br> <a href="http://www.jstool.com/wheel.htm" rel="nofollow">http://www.jstool.com/wheel.htm</a><br> <br> Before you ignore my suggestion maybe you should try it? Pretty good chance I know a thing or three more than you do about sharpening.<br> <br> <br> <br> <br>
Wait. What... You mean I'm supposed to sharpen those lathe tools? Oh, man.... <br> <br> <br> <br>Just kidding. Nice instructable. Perhaps you could add a couple links to sites that expand on the subject so that beginners can learn some more. When I started, I was so taken up with producing perfect edges that I didn't do any turning for close to six months ;-)

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Bio: Just a normal guy who enjoys the water and outdoors. Grew up on the water in the Panhandle of Florida fishing and boating, still live ... More »
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