Try as I might, I can’t seem
to get a good edge on my
bowl gouges. Are bowlgouge
sharpening jigs worth looking
Bowl-gouge sharpening jigs do
a great job. The jigs give many
turners a higher degree of control
and repeatability than they get
doing it by hand. But don’t kid yourself;
using a jig is not like using a pencil
sharpener. The technique does involve
a learning curve; it’s just not as steep as
learning to sharpen by hand. You still
have to know how to shape the tool and
when to stop grinding by observing the
According to expert turner and
instructor Alan Lacer, the motion used
to sharpen a gouge on a grinder is very
similar to the one used to turn a bowl
on the lathe. As you master one skill,
you’ll be learning the other. However, if
you’re spending more time on the
grinder than on the lathe, a sharpening
jig can get you over the hump and allow
you to concentrate on developing your
skills on the lathe first.
There are a number of jigs on the
market and all of them work well. The
basic jig usually consists of a mounting
plate that holds either an adjustable
arm or a tool rest (not shown). (The
tool rest, an adjustable platform used
for sharpening chisels and plane irons,
is far superior to most stock tool rests.)
The adjustable arm has a cradle to hold
the gouge handle to create a traditional
grind (Photo 1). To create a fingernail
profile, you need to purchase a tool
holder to go with your basic set (Photo 2).
Click any image to view a larger version.
1. To grind a traditional profile on a bowl gouge, you need a basic
jig setup consisting of an adjustable arm with a cradle to hold
the gouge and a mounting plate to hold the arm. To use, simply
rotate the tool handle in the cradle.
2. To create a fingernail profile, you need a specialized tool holder.
The tool holder pivots in a cradle on an adjustable arm. Rocking
the handle back and forth creates the profile.