How do I prevent grain blowout when turning a bowl?

Brace the bowl gouge against your hip to give you firm control over the depth, speed, and motion of the cut.

Q:

Your Three-point Lidded Bowl (Issue 197, May 2010) intrigued me enough to try turning again. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problem I had in the past: When shaping the bowl’s exterior, the gouges catch and blow out the wood where they encounter end grain. My tools are sharp enough to shave with. What am I doing wrong?
—Dan Greaves, Eastsound, Wash.

A:

If your tools are sharp, then it could be your technique, Dan. When roughing out the exterior of the bowl, start with the tool rest slightly below the center of the bowl. With the lathe running and the tool on the rest, roll the flute about 45° counterclockwise, as shown below, and secure the handle against your hip. Touch the bevel of the gouge to the bowl’s bottom and pull it along the rest toward you and the bowl’s rim. Continue to make successive cuts gradually swinging the tool handle to establish the curvature of the bowl. If you continue to experience catching, try taking shallower cuts where the gouge passes end grain.

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The left-hand wing removes waste material while the bevel on the tip of the gouge rubs against the freshly cut bowl surface.

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