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Thread: Sharpening spindle and bowl gouges

  1. #1
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    Sharpening spindle and bowl gouges

    I have sharpened my roughing gouge myself, and also my HF spindle gouges and skew, as well as myscrapers, and they seem to work OK, and I would say the skew works very well, taking very thin shavings and leaving a smooth surface behind.

    I sharpened the spindle gouges using a motion similar to that achieved by some of the jigs I have seen (freehand) and achieved a cutting end more like a man's fingernail than a lady's, but it cuts pretty well.

    I am a little intimidated by the bowl gouge. It seems to me that I can sharpen my spindle gouges simply by the same method as the roughing gouge, that is, put the tool against the stone at the correct angle, and rotate the tool along its length. The bowl gouge however, would seem to benefit more from a jig like the Wolverine, or the one Captain Eddie shows in his video, which is specifically about the Ellsworth gouge. I saw a video the man said he likes to put an Ellsworth type grind on his bowl gouges. Now, the bowl gouge I got from LV looks more like an Ellsworth than any of the other bowl gouges in the catalogue.

    So, obviously I have some confusion running around in my head. What is the difference between an Ellsworth and a bowl gouge with deep wings? What is the normal pattern for a bowl gouge, and what settings would you use on a Wolverine type jig? Stuart's video shows him putting a similar end on a bowl gouge as the one I bought from LV's economy set. So, would you recommend grinding a bowl gouge with a lesser grind to one similar to an Ellsworth, or just copy the grind on any bowl gouge you buy? And if you can put an Ellsworth type grind on a bowl gouge, why buy an Ellsworth?

    Please clarify my muddification.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
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    For a spindle gouge, I'm probably not really qualified to offer advice because I only have one, and it's a shallow gouge with a relatively long bevel. Bowl gouges are a different story.

    As you've probably figured by now, there are no hard and fast rules on how a bowl gouge should be ground. In fact a fair number of gouges get reground into different profiles at different times of their lives. Personally, for most things, I prefer a bowl gouge to have a grind with longer wings...more like Stu shows as opposed to the shallower grind Eddie shows. (And I don't think Eddie's "Ellsworth" grind looks like the grind Ellsworth puts on the gouges he sells.) A large part of the reason I like the longer wings because I use the wings of the gouge for shearing cuts. A lot. As it turns out, the grind that Doug Thompson puts on his gouges is pretty close to how I like them, so I've not done much re-grinding of my Thompson gouges. And since I don't like changing my jigs around much, I use pretty much the same grind on my non-Thompson gouges. My recommendation would be to try several different grinds and decide for yourself which one(s) work best for you. A lot of turners have two or three different grinds they they use for different circumstances. The style of turning you do will also dictate which grinds work best for you. If you like bowls with steep sides and flat bottoms, then a shallower (Capt Eddie style) grind will probably server you better than one with long wings. For me, it's vice versa...I don't like straight sides or flat bottoms, so I don't have much need for that kind of grind.

    Regarding your question about the Ellsworth grind and Ellsworth-branded gouges, there's really nothing special about them other than the name. You can put the same grind on virtually any gouge and call it an Ellsworth grind. (And if you ask six turners to describe the "true" Ellsworth grind, you'll get twelve or thirteen different answers.) There are some turners who will discuss the subtle differences in the flute of the Ellsworth-branded gouges, but 99.9% of us can't tell any appreciable difference between a $120 Ellsworth bowl gouge and a $60 Thompson U-shape gouge with an Ellsworth grind...except the Thompson will stay sharp longer.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  3. #3
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    You said in another thread that you'll be brunching in Toronto on Sunday. If you're anywhere near me, Laird & Eglinton, feel free to drop in. We have an Ellsworth jig, 2 Wolverines, and half a dozen+ bowl gouges with different grinds on them.

    ... out on a 2 dozen bike ride around Rice Lake today. Won't return until evening so don't know how you'll contact me (leaving in 15 min).

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Thomas View Post
    You said in another thread that you'll be brunching in Toronto on Sunday. If you're anywhere near me, Laird & Eglinton, feel free to drop in. We have an Ellsworth jig, 2 Wolverines, and half a dozen+ bowl gouges with different grinds on them.

    ... out on a 2 dozen bike ride around Rice Lake today. Won't return until evening so don't know how you'll contact me (leaving in 15 min).
    Thanks very much, Ed, but tomorrow is all about family, and we won't be going north of Queen St. If I try to take off to meet a woodturner, I'll be arriving with two broken legs. Perhaps another day?
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  5. #5
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    I can't speak to the specific grinds of any bowl gouge... most of mine are cut at varying angles, i.e. 45, 50 and 60, with relatively longer wings... like Vaughn I use the wings to shear cut and for a long time sharpened on a belt sander free hand...without a real regard for the angle... I have since bought a Wolverine jig and wheels for my grinder that I can at least get a more consistent grind on the gouges... I have a slow speed on order and should have it by end of next week.... so my gouges will be even more consistent. My go-to tool is a 5/8" gouge ground on a 60 degree bevel with about 3/4" or less wings....

    As for names on a gouge... I use the Benjamin's Best tools... they work as well for me as any.... my close friend uses almost all Sorby's and they go a fantastic job for him. I've never been one to worry about a name brand... get the best tool you can afford (hence mine are Benjamin's best) and learn to use it well.... the man makes the tool work, the tool doesn't make the man anymore skilled.... I'm still working on learning my tool skills.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Ellis View Post
    ...As for names on a gouge... I use the Benjamin's Best tools... they work as well for me as any.... my close friend uses almost all Sorby's and they go a fantastic job for him...
    I started out with Benjamin's Best bowl gouges, and they were indeed a good value for the money. They don't stay sharp nearly as long as a Thompson, but they're not as expensive, either. Thompson gouges are still an awesome value, though. They are pretty much the best out there (in my opinion, as well as a LOT of turners who are better than me) and about half the price of anything that's close to comparable.

    Sorby, IMO, is a good mid-level tool priced at about twice what it's worth.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    Still figuring this one out (probably will be for a long time).

    I've found that while I liked the grind I got from using the wolverine with kind of a "mid length" wing it left the bottom side to "sharp" so I've been re-grinding to round off the bottom of the gouge. For me that makes it easier to follow curves because the bottom of the gouge isn't getting in my way (especially on steeper sided bowls). I then usually free hand for a while until my grind drifts to far (mostly I get lazy at the back of the wings and they get shorter.. and shorter..) and then re-wolverine to correct (it keeps getting longer between re-shaping sessions so... that's good I think). For some reason I can do a freehand grind with a lighter touch so I (?think? I) save metal (but could be wrong because of the grind drift) and its certainly faster. I'm still on my first three Benjamins bowl gouges (3/8, 1/2 and 5/8 - I started liking the 3/8 best but now use the 5/8's 90+% of the time - initially I found the 3/8 more forgiving to use for some reason) and find that I have to touch them up ~1-2 times per medium sized bowl - more if really rough wood (I usually touch up right before my finishing cuts and then use that for the rough cuts on the next bowl maybe touching up part way through if need be). I figured that if I ground these to nothing due to incompetence at least I wasn't out to much.. a set of thompsons are perhaps on the xmas wish list

  8. #8
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    Ryan, I also grind the heel off the bevel on my U-shaped bowl gouges, since those are the ones I use for the deeper parts of a bowl. As long as the primary bevel (the cutting edge) remains consistent, free-handing things to knock off the heel works just fine. (I wish I was where I could get to my gouges...I'd show a pic or two of what I mean.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    Perhaps another day?
    Sure, another day.

  10. #10
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    What about using one of the carbide turning tools to rough out the bowl & get it close to finished shape & then use a bowl gouge to finish. Wouldn't this save a bit on wearing down your bowl gouge?
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

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