Tips for Thompson V Bowl Gouge

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Noot17

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Hey all - I've started turning bowls this year along with my pens, and was gifted a Thompson 5/8" V Bowl gouge. I've watched a lot of videos, but don't have a lot of people in my area I can watch and learn from.

I was wondering if anyone knows of any videos or resources for using this shaped gouge specifically. I have a terrible time with catches, or needing to go very slow/shallow. I'm trying to keep the angles right, etc. compared to videos I have seen, but not sure if there is some other trick beyond practice. I watched a couple videos from Brendan Stemp (youturn.tv) that were very helpful, but he appears to have removed them...

Any help would be appreciated!
 
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Charlie_W

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Hi Eric, I don’t know where you are located in Oregon but I see about 10 registered IAP members in the state, 2 Woodcraft stores and a number of AAW chapters. (American Association of Woodturners). If you can hook up with another Turner, club or take a class at a Woodcraft, it will greatly speed up your bowl turning capabilities.
The 5/8” bowl gouge should cut very nicely....Doug makes great tools. If you are working smaller bowls, you may want a smaller gouge.
With bowl gouges (and most Turning tools), if you don’t have bevel support right behind the cut, you will have problems. Also, different grinds make a difference as to the cut and where you are in the bowl.
Good luck!
 

bmachin

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Hi Eric,

What Charlie says about bevel support. I'm just getting back into bowls after a long absence.

My go-to guy on YouTube is robohippy. While he is primarily a scraper guy start to finish, his videos on gouges are really well done in the way that he uses large scale tool cross section cutouts and drawings to show how catches occur.

He's also an Oregon guy if I'm not mistaken.

Worth a look.

Bill
 

Noot17

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Thanks for the input! I'll check those options out.

Charlie - Do you have a rough sizing recommendation for tools to bowl (or other turned items) size? Like a 5/8" gouge should be for bowls 6"-14", 1/2" gouge is for bowls 4"-8" or something like that?
 

Charlie_W

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Thanks for the input! I'll check those options out.

Charlie - Do you have a rough sizing recommendation for tools to bowl (or other turned items) size? Like a 5/8" gouge should be for bowls 6"-14", 1/2" gouge is for bowls 4"-8" or something like that?
I find I prefer to use my 5/8” Thompson bowl gouge on larger bowls/ platters such as 10” - 16” and the 1/2” on smaller work. My lathe is 16” max.
The 5/8” can take a bigger cut but that is not always what is needed. Sometimes a smaller cut can be easier to control.
Also, grinding a secondary and sometimes third bevel can help eliminate rubbing the back corner of the grind when going around the curve to the bottom of the bowl. This rubbing burnishes the wood and will show up when you put on your finish....even if sanded.
 

TellicoTurning

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Look up Glen Lucas, he's an Irish turner that specializes in bowls and I think his gouges are all V-grooved... he's very good and does some nice videos.



Personally I use Hurricane bowl gouges, ground at 60 degrees on the 5/8 and 50 degrees on the 1/2 inch... I set my tool rest at about or just below center and keep the handle of the gouge down slightly so I ride the bevel... not much problem with catches. Works for me... your technique may be different.
 

donstephan

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Robohippy (Reed Gray) is a regular participant at Woodturners Resource and as mentioned above lives somewhere in Oregon. Almost certainly he will know other Oregon turners if you do not live close to him. There's nothing like face to face time.
 

JimB

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I have the same Thompson V 5/8 bowl gouge. I have kept the profile exactly as it was when I received it. Before I say what I think your problem might be I’ll point out I have been Turning bowls large and small for about 9 years and I have 7 bowl gouges all with different profiles. One of my non-Thompson bowl gouges is also a V.

In my opinion the profile on the Thompson is more prone to catches that other profiles and is more difficult for new Turners to use. Don’t get me wrong. I love mine but I have turned a lot of bowls.

If you look at the gouge from the side and look at the cutting edge from the front tip to the back of the wing you will notice it is curved (arc) rather than straight. In my experience new bowl Turners have difficulty because of that arc and the cutting edge makes unexpected contact because they don’t realize where the tool is going to make contact. It is also more aggressive. I have asked some Turners in my local club who have over 30 years experience and they have confirmed my opinion.

I teach a lot of people to turn. I do not use my Thompson tool to teach new Turners. I use one of my other bowl gouges. I have also worked with several newer Turners who have their own tools and they have described exactly what you describe. I look at their bowl gouge (brand and size does not matter) and it will have that arc. I show them one of my bowl gouges and the difference. They try mine and half their problems go away. The other half of their problem is technique. Technique is easily fixed with some hands on help. Joining a local AAW is excellent advice given above.

Unfortunately watching videos is not always the answer because you don’t have someone standing next to you to help with small changes or who can see what you can’t. I struggled with the skew for many years until someone in my local club helped me. It was just a few very small adjustments I needed to make. I am now very comfortable using the skew.
 

Noot17

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Thank you for the insight, Jim. That is helpful, and makes complete sense about the curved wing. I do have another bowl gouge from a cheap HSS set. I think I'll try turning a couple using that to see if I notice a difference and can work on my technique before going back to the Thompson.

Would it be possible to grind the Thompson differently so it has straight wings instead of curved, or would that be a waste if I can just practice on the other gouge first?
 

donstephan

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My first thought is that, when viewed from the side, whether the side cutting edge is straight or curved would depend on how the gouge is manipulated during sharpening.

When he visited the Cincinnati woodturning group's meeting recently, Doug Thompson said the V gouge has the smallest sweet spot but gives him a better cut than a similar U gouge.

Could the original poster explain how the catches are occurring?
 

mark james

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My first thought is that, when viewed from the side, whether the side cutting edge is straight or curved would depend on how the gouge is manipulated during sharpening.

When he visited the Cincinnati woodturning group's meeting recently, Doug Thompson said the V gouge has the smallest sweet spot but gives him a better cut than a similar U gouge.

Could the original poster explain how the catches are occurring?
Bingo! An excellent tool, but a steep learning curve (at which I am at the bottom). But, it is one I want to climb.
 

JimB

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Thank you for the insight, Jim. That is helpful, and makes complete sense about the curved wing. I do have another bowl gouge from a cheap HSS set. I think I'll try turning a couple using that to see if I notice a difference and can work on my technique before going back to the Thompson.

Would it be possible to grind the Thompson differently so it has straight wings instead of curved, or would that be a waste if I can just practice on the other gouge first?
The short answer is yes, you can regrind it so it is straight. Bowl gouges, like all other HSS gouges, can be reshaped rather easily. The harder part is getting the original shape back if you want it back that way. Doug Thompson provides instructions with his gouges that tell you how to set your Wolverine jig (if you have one) to maintain the gouge the way he shaped it. I don’t know how easy it is to get it back with those settings.

I would recommend using your other bowl gouge first and see how you do with it. That will at least give you an idea about your technique and if that is your problem.
 

Noot17

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Thanks again for the tips.

donstephan - recently I was getting a lot of catches when trying to hollow out. I hadn't used it in a while, but I was having a hard time with it not catching/skipping when I was trying to start the cut to make the hollowing cut. I ruined the rim on one piece doing that. I'm guessing I just had it at the wrong angle so it caught and was thrown out (I was bracing it with my thumb/hand to try to prevent this, but it didn't stop it).

Hollowing tends to be the more difficult part for me.
 

Charlie_W

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Thanks again for the tips.

donstephan - recently I was getting a lot of catches when trying to hollow out. I hadn't used it in a while, but I was having a hard time with it not catching/skipping when I was trying to start the cut to make the hollowing cut. I ruined the rim on one piece doing that. I'm guessing I just had it at the wrong angle so it caught and was thrown out (I was bracing it with my thumb/hand to try to prevent this, but it didn't stop it).

Hollowing tends to be the more difficult part for me.

Here are a couple tips on getting the hollowing cuts started without the gouge skating across the rim.

First, you need to make sure the bevel of your bowl gouge is at 90 degrees to the bowl rim or at the angle which you want the cut to go. The cut follows the bevel. Also, your gouge needs to be closed....top of flute at 3:00 so the cutting edge is plumb as you start the cut. After you have the tip in the wood( and have bevel support), you can open the flute to get a good cutting edge.

Next method is to use your parting tool and putting a groove in the top of your blank where your cut will go. This will provide an edge for the bevel of your bowl gouge to ride on as you start your cut.

Hope this helps.
 

randyrls

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Eric; Charlie's suggestion about AAW is an excellent one! AAW chapters often have "mentors" that can show you the cuts and generally help you. Nothing beats having someone stand beside you! Click here to find an AAW chapter near you.

Our local club meeting was last Tuesday and the topic was "Rough Turning A Bowl". Very informative.
 

Noot17

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Thank you for the helpful information again!

I'll see what I can do to find a mentor/coach, and will keep practicing in the meantime.
 

donstephan

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Basically you want to bring the gouge to the wood in a neutral presentation, so that the gouge doesn't try to move in any direction.

1. For me, the top of the tool rest is just below the center of the bowl blank (i.e. the axis of the lathe).

2. The tool is horizontal, i.e. parallel to the lathe axis, and when placed on the tool rest the middle of the gouge should be at the height of the lathe axis. Adjust the height of the tool rest if necessary.

3. The flute or hollow portion of the gouge should point to the right, sometimes referred to as facing 3 o'clock.

4. The cutting edge bevel at the gouge nose should be perpendicular to the surface of the wood it is about to touch.

You might want to experiment with some different variations on the presentation first, to see first hand what happens. Rotate the lathe spindle (and the bowl blank) by hand using the handwheel as the nose of the gouge is presented to the wood, or have someone rotate the handwheel for you if necessary. At hand rotation speeds you will see exactly what would happen at several hundred RPM's without unpleasantness.
 

Gary Hern

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Its been quite awhile since I have turned and just getting back into it. But, a lot of variables will be associated with your grind. There are many ways to grind a gouge and learning the right technique for your grind is important. It took me a couple of years of heavy turning to finally settle upon a favorite grind
 

Noot17

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I've turned two more bowls since this post and had a lot fewer catches. Having the tool at the correct cutting angle makes a huge difference, though I'm still improving this. Also keeping it sharp helps a ton, go figure. Apparently stone wheels don't sharpen Thompson Steel very well, so I've been honing with diamond hones and this seems to work pretty well.
Thanks for all the tips!

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