Bowl Basics: The Three Cuts to Know

Understand how these cuts work, and you’re on your way to turning all types of bowls.
Roll the flute 45° toward the direction of the cut, and lightly press the bevel against the workpiece. Push the tool forward to cut, and swing the handle to steer the tool.

A bevel-rubbing cut [Photos A–C] yields the cleanest surface with the least amount of torn grain, so use it whenever possible. With this cut, the bevel of the tool contacts the workpiece while the wing removes the waste. The support provided by the bevel prevents tear-out and offers the best control of the gouge.

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Know the parts of a bowl gouge to properly orient the tool during each of the cuts described here.

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For interior bevel-rubbing cuts, push the tool forward and swing the handle toward you during the cut to maintain contact between the bevel and bowl.

By contrast, during a shear scraping cut [Photo D], only the wing makes contact. Because of the severe cutting angle, use this technique for light cuts on the exterior only.

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To make a shear scraping cut, lower the tool handle to create a severe cutting angle, and roll the flute 90° in the direction of the cut. Pull the gouge across the bowl.

A scraping cut [Photo E] uses just the cutting edge of the tool and transfers the tool’s shape to the wood, as when creating a square shoulder on a recess.

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Push straight in, keeping the handle horizontal or slightly above the tool rest. The disposable cutter on this squarenose scraper allows cutting on the side or front.

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