Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Tools and Tool Maintenance/Restoration Suggestions on tools for bowl turning

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    One of my next projects will be building a spring pole lathe. I’ve become very interested in turning lately. The tools needed for spindle type turning seem easier to find, but I’m wondering if anyone has a good source for bowl turning type tools.

    I’ve seen folks like Ben Orford that have hand forged type tools available. Does anyone have experience with this they can share?

    Thank you so much


    Philipp J.

    Both Crown and Ashley Iles carry a wide selection of turning tools, and if the Chisels are anything to go by Ashley Iles should be top quality tools, Thompson is another name that comes up somewhat often in regards to turning.
    Over here Stubai is also very common, though probably hard to get outside Austria and maybe Germany, I’m not doing any turning myself yet so i cant really comment on the quality, just giving you a few pointers .

    Regards Philipp

    Peter George

    I have some Henry Taylor which are fine and some P&N which are excellent. The P&N don’t come with handles so you have to turn your own. I started out with an economy set I got from Lee Valley which worked well. As long as the tools are high speed steel, you should be fine.

    Ideally you should have a bowl gouge and flat and round nosed scrapers. I also know a very good turner who prefers to use a spindle gouge for face plate work. I find it too light for bowls, however if you are using a spring pole lathe you will likely have to take fairly light cuts anyway.

    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"


    Kevin, you may need to say more about what you want to do. We’re all telling you about modern bowl tools (elliptical gouges with swept back flutes/wings), but with a pole lathe, you may be thinking about hooks. I’ve only used elliptical gouges and scrapers on a motorized lathe for faceplate work. I was taught not to use spindle tools on faceplate work because the geometry of the flute is wrong. You’ll get poor cuts and bad catches. The spindle roughing gouge should definitely be kept away from faceplate work. Spindle tools make peeling or slicing cuts into fibers that are running parallel to the lathe axis. The flutes and nose get under the fibers and take them away. On faceplate work, the fibers are endgrain for half the rotation and are side grain (but vertical) the other half of the rotation. Spindle tools dig into that end grain and catch. On a bowl gouge, the swept back flutes and elliptical nose give a different kind of action. When sharpened and presented properly, the elliptical nose can shear the endgrain fibers ahead of the wings and the wings then peel off the short section of fibers that was was just released by the nose. Looking at old turning books, it seems that the old timers did more with a single gouge than we do today, but the old tool was different. Honestly, I don’t understand how the old tools worked (and wish I did).


    Thank you for all the responses. I think what I am most interested in right now would be bowl turning with a hook type tool, on a spring Pole type lathe. I have seen a couple of websites that offer hand forged tools, most notable some made by a man named Ben Orford.

    I’ve watched a few of his videos and he seems to know what he’s doing. It’s difficult to find these types of hook tools and they seem to be made by individual people or shops that are very small. Before I send them what would be to me a decent amount of money I thought I’d check around to see if anyone had used or bought these types of tools.

    Here is a link of the type I’m referring to if anyone is interested in looking further into it.


    Thank you again for the interest.


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