Project Tutorials


Gouge vertical finish cuts

One of the gouge techniques I use for finishing cuts is to have the length of the gouge nearly vertical and the bevel rubbing. It is like taking a skew cut along the blank. The shavings come off the gouge straight down because of the alignment of the flute. The cutting edge here is ground very acute so there is very little resistance, and the wood cuts cleanly. The edge profile of the gouge is slightly convex and like using a radius edged skew.

Finish cut trailing view

A view from the back of the gouge. The shavings come off the cutting edge as long tight spirals or long and straight depending on the area of the cutting edge used and exact angle of the edge to the lathe axis.

Comparison of gouge cuts

View of the difference between the surfaces to the left using a vertical gouge oriented cut and one to right using a more horizontal roughing bowl gouge cut.

Wood grain close up

A close-up of the woods surface. There is no room for sanding out any kind of defect later when the hat is thin so make sure that the surface is without any chipped, uneven or torn areas now before proceeding to turn to the final thickness.

Profile of hat shape

The outside profile of the hat sized to the right diameter and the surface clean cut. The hat has a brim 3 1/2" wide and is almost 14 1/2" in diameter. You can see I taper from small at the crown to larger diameter at the band. If the sides are straight, the sides above the band will bulge out wider than the band when it dries. The brim is sloped down from the band and reverse turned back up slightly on the outer edge to give a good shape to the brim.

Sand the topside of the brim now while it is thick and running true. The grain will raise some later and need hand sanded but this cuts down on the amount of sanding needed later.

Turning brim to final thickness

Start at the outer edge to thin the brim to final thickness. I am using a pulling cut from the center to the edge. The gouge is roughly at a 45-degree angle to the lathe axis. The flute facing in the direction of cut.

Control the cut by placing the heel of the hand on the tool rest and flexing the fingers to pull the gouge into the cut. A slip made now could shatter the thin area of the brim.

Light showing brim edge thickness

The first inch of the brim is 3/32" thick. The light shining through the wood acts as a visual thickness gauge while turning.

Shear scraping inside brim

Continue turning the brim to final thickness in small steps until the brim is all a uniform thickness. Make sure that the wood has no tear out or uneven thickness before moving to another step. There is no coming back to correct defective areas so fix them as you go. With the wood this thin, it will loose moisture fast and begin to warp. Even if soaked with water again it will loose the moisture quickly as it spins.

Turn a couple of steps and sand that area. Check the wood surface and then continue turning. When the wood is dry, it may reveal some defects that are now visible while wet.

Expect to sharpen the gouge often when making this cut. The sharp edge is presented at 90-degrees to the woods spinning surface. This wears away the edge faster than a cut where the bevel rubs the wood.

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