Learn about Basic Woodturning Tools You Need To Know To Get Started

Turning a freshly-cut piece of wood into a totally different kind masterpiece sure sounds awesome.

However, this kind of crafting can be a very tough job.

For a novice wood turner, there’s probably nothing more daunting than holding a long, sharp metal stick and pushing it against a weird rotating machine.

Not to mention the maddening raspy sound of the collision of metal and wood. Woodturning definitely requires an enormous amount of bravery and of course, a good deal of creativity and talent from a person.

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Woodturning requires knowledge, too. There are more than a lot of wood turning tools, and every single one looks almost exactly like the others. They are so identical that it’s almost impossible to identify each one with their names.

Plus, each wood turning tool has a different use and purpose. A woodturner needs to identify all of the different wood turning tools and their use in wood turning.

For beginners, however, it can take a long time before completely learning about all of the wood turning tools.

So, here are the basic woodturning tools that you need to know first before flying off to learning the extremes.


Roughing gouges

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The most basic tool for woodturning is the Roughing Gouge. It is used in the primary woodturning process, where a piece of wood is “roughed” from square to round shape. Roughing gauges are usually a big kind of tool that can shift most of the weight to whatever direction. It’s quite wide and usually has a straight grind.

Roughing gouges are usually U-shaped in the cross section. They are formed from high-speed steel, so their cutting edge is very sharp usually at around 40º to 45º. Their sharpness allows wood turners to remove the stock more quickly and move it to certain directions.

However, when used frantically, the woodwork may result in an inferior finish. Since they are used for “roughing” woods, they might not always leave a decent woodwork, but they are really good at creating rough shapes. After all, that’s their purpose.


Skew Chisels


Skew Chisels are most commonly used to “plane” a cylindrical piece of wood to a fine finish. From the name itself, the tool is “skewed” or angled at about 70º in the longitude axis. Skew Chisels come in various forms and sizes. This woodturning tool is used by “lying” its edge on the workpiece, forming around 45º angle with the axis of the workpiece. The level of the tool is designed in a position where it can easily rub against the rotating machine. Its edge is normally designed in ground, so it gives an angle between 60º and 80º. Moreover, some turners prefer finer angle, but only a few Skew Chisels are designed for that kind of specification. When crafting, the point of contact must be at the center or at the lower half of the cutting edge.

Skew Chisel is a kind of tool that can be used as a multipurpose tool; it can be used for purposes other than wood turning like cutting hard materials, making Vee grooves, and even for some sort of purpose you never want to hear! So it really would be best to ask a skilled word turner to demonstrate it for you while you study how it is used, instead of recklessly trying it out with just very little knowledge.


Spindle Gouges

After you have “planned” your piece of wood with the Skew Chisel, you’re probably itching to shape it into perfection. Spindle Gouges are used for “coves”, the rounded grooves in the wood surface. Spindle gouges come in three different sizes, which are all formed from HSS (solid high-speed steel) bars that give them the right rigidity that is needed for woodturning.

The tool’s cutting edge can be ground according to personal preference and woodturning style, usually to an angle between 30º to 45º. Most wood turners today have their Spindle Gouges grounded in a fingernail shape, which makes the tool even more versatile to use. Regardless of the kind of ground, the flute of the tool’s top edges is set back on the view from the flute’s lower center.

Spindle Gouges are similar to Roughing Gouges, which have a semicircular cross-section. The Spindle Gouge, however, is shallower, making the blade sharper and stronger.


Parting & Beading Tools

Parting and beading tools are used for cutting off the ends of the turn off square, turning a groove, or cutting a little parallel of ‘tenon’. The original purpose of parting and beading tools is to separate the workpiece from the waste wood by cutting a narrow slot in it. These tools are also used to cut necessary narrow slots. Additionally, they are used for quick removing of wood in tenon making.

These tools are usually long and narrow, allowing a full, deep reach into the cut. The thickness may vary, but similar tools for another purpose may be a little bit wider. The blade or the sharp part of a parting tool is typically wide while its cross-section is rectangular in shape.


Bowl Gouges


Bowl gauges, also commonly known as deep fluted gouges, are designed with deeper channels compared to spindle gouges. Also, compared to spindle gauges, bowl gouges have square-across grinds, not backward or toward grind on the flute’s upper edges. One of the essential things every woodturner needs to know, moreover, is that a bowl gauge should be rigid since it is used with a lot of overhanging tools along the tool rest.

Bowl gauges are one of the most appropriate tools to be used in spindle works such as shaping bowls, since they are comfortable and easy to grab, aside from the fact that bowl gouges are intended for woodturning bowls in the first place. For a bowl gauge to be very effective in making bowls and any other wood works, a bowl gauge must be ground to an obtuse angle of 40 to 55 degrees, depending on a wood turner’s preference of the bowl form.


Swept Back Grind Bowl Gouges

This is pretty much very similar to a regular bowl gouge. Swept back grind bowl gouge just has a different kind of grind. A regular bowl gouge usually have a straight grind, while a swept back grind bowl gauge has more of a U shape grind. It allows its wings to become exposed while the edges are cut. A swept back grind bowl gouge is a very versatile kind of tool that allows for a greater range and size of cuts.



Scrapers are considered as the very last tool to use in wood turning. A scraper is used to polish a piece of wood work to a fine finish. Scrapers are used by pointing its tip to the surface of the workpiece. They come in varied shapes, but usually, they are reshaped and reground by wood turners to suit personal skills and wood turning styles. Scrapers are usually vertically ground in the cutting edge at around 80º with reference at the top surface.


Final Point

Woodturning is a really tough business.

However, if you only learn to put your whole heart into it, you’ll be more and more willing to achieve every task out of passion.


Hello! I’m Mike Maclennan and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I work in the construction and home remodeling industry. Having used many tools over the years, I’ve decided to start this website and share my personal tools review. Thanks for reading my articles and I hope you’ll find the best tool for your needs.