Woodturning Tools

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Woodturning Tools

Cheap woodturning tools.JPG
Synonyms: DE: Drechseleisen, Drechselmesser
Material: wood
Used with: wood lathe
Location: wood workshop
(wall above wood lathe)
Access Requirements: read this page; woodturning introduction
Tutors: Lukas

Once you've got a nice turning blank spinning on the wood lathe, you'll want to shape it by holding something sharp to it. We're only getting started with woodturning, but as we learn this page will grow with information about various forms of turning tools (a multi-photo imagemap will be nice for easy navigation).

In early 2018, Lukas got a cheap beginner's set consisting of

  • some kind of 12 mm gouge
    • not a roughing gouge: too narrow & shallow
    • not a Formröhre: mostly rectangular when seen from above, no "nose"
    • looks a lot like an out-cannel firmer gouge (not a turning tool?!)
  • 26 mm skew chisel (Drechselbeitel)
  • 13 mm round nose scraper (Schaber, rund)
  • 4 & 6 mm parting tools (Abstechstähle)

which we will gradually expand or replace with better ones as needed:

CAUTION: the simple skew chisel and scraper were misused and badly bent, currently they are "fixed" but may bend or even break easier next time! Stop turning if anything seems wrong with these or other tools.



Woodturning Gouges

Woodturning gouge.JPG
Synonyms: DE: Drechselröhren, Drehröhren;
Schruppröhren, Formröhren, Schalenröhren
Type: woodturning tool
Material: wood
Tutors: Lukas

Gouges are perhaps the most frequently used woodturning tools and are very useful to get your workpiece round in the first place.

We only have a very uncharacteristic gouge at the moment. There are several specialized types including roughing, spindle and bowl gouges, all of which may be sharpened at different angles to produce an even bigger variety.

If you would like to see more gouges in our shared selection, please make suggestions and also let us know whether you would be willing to throw in a few €! In the meantime, you are welcome to borrow Lukas' private gouges for a beer or so ;-)

Roughing Gouges

typical marks during roughing

Avoid contacting the workpiece with one of the corners! These gouges are usually forged from a flat piece of steel and therefore less strong than those that are milled from a solid round piece - they are sometimes reported to break near the handle. [1]

This article may help you with your first attempts of using a spindle roughing gouge. Roughing gouges take the same shaving across their entire cutting edge so it's a good idea to keep slowly twisting the tool to balance the wear over the entire edge (otherwise you'll quickly have a dull spot in the middle while the sides are still sharp).

Also have a look at this beginner's guide for some nice illustrations as well as detailed descriptions of the cuts you can make with this tool.

Roughing gouge.svg

Spindle Gouges

Called "Formröhren" in German, these gouges are okay for rounding a spindle if you don't have a proper roughing gouge but are more suited for forming cuts in an already round workpiece.

Spindle gouge.svg

Bowl Gouges

Bowl gouges are most aggressive at the sides, so you should avoid to contact the workpiece with the entire bevel. Instead, they are somewhat "rolled" into the desired cut position. This basic "tip cut" technique is nicely explained in this article.

advanced techniques

Bowl gouge.svg

Fingernail bowl gouge.svg

Skew Chisels


Skew Chisels

Skew chisel.JPG
Synonyms: woodturning chisels, "skews";
DE: Drechselbeitel, Drehmeißel,
schräge Flachstähle
Type: woodturning tool
Material: wood
Tutors: Lukas

Not to be confused with "regular" bevel edge chisels!

Also called the "woodturner's plane" - can create nice surfaces, but prone to "catching" on the workpiece if you're not experienced!

Besides the video linked above, you should have a look at this nice writeup on how to control the skew and prevent catches before attempting to use it.

Once you get the hang of it, a skew chisel is actually a very versatile tool and can be used for a variety of different cuts.

s: skew angle, b: bevel angle

We have two one-inch wide (25-26 mm) skew chisels in the woodturning area: a cheap and rather short "regular" one and a Crown oval skew chisel that is supposed to glide across the toolrest more easily and definitely has a better blade material.



Woodturning Scrapers

Woodturning scraper.JPG
Synonyms: DE: Schaber, Drechselschaber,
Flachstähle, Schlichtstähle,
Type: woodturning tool
Material: wood
Tutors: Lukas
Similar (More or Less): card scrapers

Scrapers are not really used for cutting but have an edge with a burr similar to that on a card scraper. Instead of removing a lot of wood you can use this tool for delicate finishing touches. Read more about this tool here (Doc Green).

Contrary to pretty much all other woodturning tools, you do not let the scraper "ride" on its bevel. To make sure the workpiece always runs "away" from its edge and you do not get a catch, use this tool below the workpiece axis for outside work and above for inside work. [2]

We have one round nose scraper to start with.

Woodturning scraper.svg

Side Cutting Scrapers

tip of the 20 mm "Kirschen" side cutting scraper

Micha loaned the Space a side cutting scraper (Ausdrehstahl) (round, 20 mm) to work on the insides of bowls or similar pieces!

This tool looks different of course, but is used and sharpened in the same basic way as a "front cutting" scraper.

Parting Tools


Parting Tools

Parting tools.jpg
Synonyms: DE: Abstechstähle, Abstecher,
Spitzstahl ("Diamant-Form")
Type: woodturning tool
Material: wood
Tutors: Lukas

Parting tools can be used for simple grooves or to "part off" your finished piece from the waste. However, parting can be very dangerous if the cut is not widened properly and the high friction causes the tool to get jammed in its cut! [3]

In many cases, and when working between centers, it is advisable to turn the lathe off and do the final parting cut with a saw instead.

When your blank has knots or split edges, a parting tool may be more suitable than a roughing gouge to get it round. [4]

We have a "diamond" parting tool that is tapered behind the edge to avoid binding and burn marks [5] and two with other geometry (Kirschen: seems to be a narrow "Bedan" shape).

=> Doc Green: Parting Tools
=> HolzWerken: Beim Drechseln oft unterschätzt - der Abstecher (DE)

simple parting cut to make wheels for a Tigerente
"European style" parting tool made by Kirschen - NOT suitable for soft wood!

Further Information