Craft Woodturning Hand Tools

The craft of woodturning relies on using hand tools for making intricate designs in wood as it spins around on a lathe. There are six specially designed woodturning gouge tools needed for basic woodturning projects.

What are gouge tools?

There are six gouge tools that a woodturning kit should include:

  • Roughing: The tool has a wide, concaved blade that is used to make large, wide grooves in the timber. This tool is useful when you want to turn a piece of coarse timber into a smooth, round piece before you start detailing it.
  • Skew Chisel: This tool has a flat head and is used to plane the surface down. This tool can eliminate the need for sanding after you have finished trimming your woodturning project.
  • Parting Tool: A parting tool was originally designed to separate sections of finished projects from the unfinished parts still spinning around on the lathe. This tool is also useful to create beads and other designs.
  • Bowl-Shaping Tool: A bowl-shaping tool is primarily used on bowl-shaped woodturning projects. Unlike the roughing tool, which also has a concave end, the bowl-shaping tool has a deeper and stronger blade. It's designed to handle the pressure of gouging out bowls made as woodturning projects.
  • Swept Back Grind Bowl-Shaping Tool: This tool is similar to the bowl-shaping one, but it is stronger and more versatile. It helps you create a greater number of unique cuts in bowls and exterior surfaces of other types of projects.
  • Scrapers: Scrapers are flat-bladed tools that are used to trim down the surface, much like a skew tool. However, these tools generally leave a coarse finish on the surface.
How can you keep the hand tools sharp?

Woodturning tools tend to dull due to the high level of friction generated by the spinning material. The blades of the tools are made from a variety of metals, including powdered metal, steel, carbon steel, carbide and high-speed steel. Plain is the softest and will wear down the most quickly. Carbon is harder than plain, but softer than high-speed. Powdered metal is especially durable and will not need frequent sharpening.

You can sharpen the tools with an electric grinding wheel fitted with a jig and an extension arm to help you hold the tools steady. There is a technique you’ll have to learn for each tool to sharpen it properly, but they are simple to learn and apply.