40-40 Bowl Gouge Grind (Shape, Sharpen, Use)

40-40 Bowl Gouge Bevel Angle Tip Detail

The 40/40 bowl gouge grind is a straightforward and useful tool for wood bowl turners and worth trying out.

What is a 40/40 bowl gouge grind?

A 40/40 bowl gouge grind refers to the angles incorporated in the specific sharpening process for this gouge. The bowl gouge bevel angle of the 40/40 grind is 40-degrees, as are the side wing edges. Also, the top slope of the wings to the flute cutting tip is a 40-degree angle.

Why 40/40 Grind

The mechanics of how the 40/40 grind cut wood so effortlessly seems to lie in the angle.

It’s all about the 40-degree angle.

Supposedly if the angle is off more the five degrees from 40, the tool does not perform as well.

A degree or two one way or the other, however, won’t change the cut too much.

To explain the advantage of this gouge, some turners have referenced the similarity of the teeth angles in well-known carnivorous mammals matching this 40-degree angle.

The 40-degree angle seems sloped enough to perform a clean-cut, and the remaining bowl gouge mass at the base of the flute stabilizes the tool during the process.

Think of this more like a slicing cut.

The wood is engaged initially at the cutting tip, but then as the side wing progresses, it acts like a peeler, peeling away material as it enters the gouge flute.

40/40 Slicing Angle

The slicing angle of the 40/40 gouge plays the most crucial role.

For a very visual cutting example, I believe we can look at the infamous Guillotine blade.

Before the Guillotine device was invented, executions were attempted by dropping a straight blade on the neck of the less fortunate.

I say “attempted” because many times, several whacks were needed to complete the job.

Think about what the Guillotine blade is doing.

Unlike the straight blade, the Guillotine is only cutting a relatively small area at a time as it passes through.

The straight cutting edge attempts to cut everything all at once and is quickly overwhelmed and ground to a halt.

At 40-degrees, wood travels up and quickly slices away from the 40/40 bowl gouge design.

OK, let’s leave the beheadings behind and get back to our bowls. 😉

40/40 and Other Grinds

If you’ve read my article, Bowl Gouge Sharpening Angles – SURPRISE ANSWER then you know where I’m about to go.

There is no “right” bowl gouge bevel angle.

As a matter of fact, I recommend you have several bowl gouges ground at different angles for different purposes.

That being said, and in an effort of making a full disclosure, initially I didn’t want to try the 40/40 bowl gouge grind.

I thought I had what I needed with my current bowl gouges, so why mess with another gouge angle?

Now, that I know what the 40/40 gouge is capable of producing, I have a couple 40/40 gouges in my arsenal and will probably have more in the future.

Why should I try the 40/40?

I have several swept-back wing bowl gouges with about a 55-degree front bevel and they work fine for me.

In addition to my swept-back wing gouges, I have a micro-bevel gouge for tougher and deeper bowl angles.

By the way, if you don’t have a micro-bevel bowl gouge (sometimes also called a “bottom feeder” gouge) consider reading this article next.

To be completely honest, I tried the 40/40 grind so I could share the results with you here.

What I discovered was pleasantly surprising!

Tool Sharpening for Wood Bowl Turning online learning eCourse

40/40 Bowl Gouge Advantages

The gouge I decided to shape with a new 40/40 grind was one of my older half-inch bowl gouges. Not too big, but also not too small.

At the lathe, what I noticed immediately, besides the 15-degree body position shift from my 55-degree gouge, was the cut.

The cut of the 40/40 gouge is strikingly crisp!

I expected the gouge to feel different, but I didn’t expect to see that much difference in the cut so quickly.

The other shocking performance was in roughing out material.

As I was roughing the exterior of a large bowl blank with my huge 3/4-inch, 55-degree, swept-back wing bowl gouge, I thought “wait, let me see how the 40/40 handles this?”

Oh. Mine. Goodness!!!

The 40/40 gouge, smaller than the previous gouge I was using to rough by a 1/4-inch, cleared material away like an animal.

I was shocked at the width it was cutting.

It shaved wood away as wide as the side wing and never bogged down!

Tenon Undercut Tool

There are many tools that can create a nice undercut for the dovetail on a bowl tenon.

But most of those tools require stopping the use of your current gouge and switching tools.

I usually use a detail-ground spindle gouge to shape my tenon dovetail angles.

However, I was surprised to discover that the 40/40 gouge can undercut just enough to make a very nice dovetail tenon angle. All without switching tools.

40-40 Bowl Gouge Bevel Angle Shape Sharpen How To

40/40 Grind Disadvantages

With the many advantages of the 40/40 grind gouge, there are a couple of disadvantages.

I’m hooked on shear-scraping the final bowl exterior surface to get an almost perfectly smooth finish off the gouge.

I share all the details about the shear-scraping cut here in this article. It’s worth reading.

While you can do a little shear-scraping with the short wings of a 40/40 gouge, it really isn’t designed for shear-scraping like the swept-back 55-degree bowl gouge.

That being said, the smooth cut straight from the 40/40 gouge is so good, it almost doesn’t need to be shear-scraped.

Also, the 40/40 grind needs to be hand-sharpened.

Hand-sharpening can be a bit of a disadvantage, but after a couple of times at the sharpening wheel, hand-sharpening is pretty simple.

I’ve also designed a unique 40/40 Gauge that aides tremendously and takes the headache out of sharpening.

Preparing to 40/40 Sharpening

We need to set up the sharpening platform before we begin to shape or sharpen the 40/40 bowl gouge.

The only additional hardware needed at the sharpening station for the 40/40 grind is a sharpening platform.

If you already have the Wolverine Vari-Jig Sharpening System, then you should also have the Wolverine sharpening platform.

Wolverine makes a stand-alone sharpening platform, here’s a link if you need one.

I know some turners that like to have separate platforms and vari-grind jigs locked and set for different specific tasks.

While this might not be the most cost-effective approach, having a dedicated grinder platform tightened and locked to 40-degrees can be convenient to just slide into the track and begin sharpening without the need to measure angles.

Accurately Setting 40-Degree Angle

As you probably are guessing, we need to set the sharpening platform to 40 degrees.

The adjustable protractor I use that works great for checking bevel angles on gouges, doesn’t work so well for setting up the grinder platform.

Because we only have the sharpening wheel to measure from, the protractor is pretty much useless.

Don’t worry, I designed a unique DYI 40/40 Gauge.

This gauge is straightforward, yet very powerful.

NOTE: Be sure to do all the following adjustments with the grinder turned off and not moving.

Place the DIY 40/40 Gauge on its side or vertical, and simply adjust the sharpening platform angle until the curved face touches the sharpening wheel flush.

The sharpening platform is now precisely set to 40 degrees.

We will also, need 40-degree reference lines on the platform itself.

Not to worry, the DIY 40/40 Gauge also has this covered.

Place the DIY 40/40 Gauge on the platform and mark the angled sides to the platform.

I like to use blue masking tape, but you can also draw lines directly to the platform using the gauge edges.

Set up of the 40/40 sharpening platform is that easy using the DIY 40/40 Gauge.

If you’d like to be able to set up your platform this easily, click here to order your DIY 40/40 Gauge now.

40-40 Gouge Grinder Sharpening Platform Set Up

40/40 Bowl Gouge Shaping

If you are reshaping an older gouge or shaping a new gouge, there is one trick you need to do first, before anything else.

You need to initially establish the top 40-degree top wing profile angle.

(top 40 degree angle ill)

With the sharpening platform set to 40 degrees, as described above, place the gouge upside down on the platform.

Be sure the two sides of the flute are resting flush to the sharpening platform surface.

Gently slide the gouge forward until the nose is making contact.

You can slightly rock the tool up and down as you shape the top 40-degree angle.

Once the path from the top of the flute to the tip of the nose is one flat continuous edge, you can stop.

Shaping Top Edge 40-40 Bowl Gouge Sharpening

By establishing the top profile, we can clearly see the shape of the cutting edge. Now, only the excess material around the cutting edge needs to be removed to form the final edge.

Now we can proceed to sharpen the bevel angles.

Top Angle Touch-Up

Occasionally, it is a good idea to re-establish this top 40-degree profile angle.

With repeated hand-sharpening, the top edge of the wings can drift a bit off from 40-degrees.

It’s common for one wing to become shorter or taller than the other.

This technique checks and resets the top 40-degree gouge angle.

40/40 Bowl Gouge Sharpening

With the platform set to 40 degrees as we covered above and with the top wing angle ground to 40 degrees, we are ready to sharpen the rest of the 40/40 gouge.

Unlike using a jig, we will not try to do a full sweeping pass across the sharpening wheel to shape the 40/40 gouge.

Instead, we will work on each wing separately and then blend the two sides together as we sharpen the nose of the gouge.

Side Wing Sharpening

Besides setting the platform correctly to 40 degrees, here is the next most crucial step.

The bottom inside flute needs to be parallel with the platform.

Start by sharpening one of the side wings on the 40/40 bowl gouge.

When sharpening the side wing, the flute needs to be parallel and should not be fully closed to the sharpening wheel.

40-40 Bowl Gouge Flute Parallel Sharpening Platform

With the flute parallel to the platform, begin sharpening the gouge wing until the bevel meets the top angle.

You can rock the wing slightly left to right (perhaps less than 1/32 of an inch or 1-2mm) as you sharpen the side.

When one wing is complete, switch to the other side and repeat the process.

The top cutting edge needs to be nothing more than the side wing bevel meeting the top edge of the inside flute.

If you see any flat surface visible near the top of the bevel or along the flute, continue sharpening.

40-40 Grind Side Wings Bowl Gouge Shaping

Nose Sharpening

I think there’s a “nose to the grindstone” joke in here somewhere. Ha!

Once the side wings are sharp, the only thing left is the gouge nose.

Keep the bottom of the gouge flush to the sharpening platform surface and swing the nose across and around to blend the two side wings.

Make light passes and don’t force the gouge into the sharpening wheel.

Remove material until the front bevel edge blends continuously across the top edge of the gouge.

Just like the side wings, the nose needs to have a crisp cutting edge that is formed by merging the front bevel with the inside flute.

If any facets, bumps or flats spots appear along the cutting edge, keep sharpening.

You are done sharpening the 40/40 gouge when there is a crisp clean cutting edge that wraps from the left-wing, across the nose, and along the right side.

After sharpening the 40/40 gouge a few times, you will be able to smoothly roll the tip from left, across the nose, and complete the right-wing in one pass.

40-40 Bowl Gouge Grind Nose Sharpening

Heel Trimming

I suggest, now that you have sharpened the 40/40 gouge, go try it out for a bit.

One of the aspects of this bevel angle is the width of the bevel and how much material it removes. This can be good or less desirable, depending on how you turn.

If you’d like to use this gouge for tighter curves, especially inside a bowl, it might be helpful to reduce the size of the gouge heel.

I use the platform as a general guide and rest my hands there as I remove the gouge heel.

Position the gouge tip up a bit on the sharpening wheel and freehand this grind by rocking the heel left and right on the sharpening wheel.

The top cutting edge bevel will be shortened as you remove the heel. How much you reduce the bevel is up to you.

The shorter the bevel, the tighter the gouge will be able to turn without burnishing, or worse, being forced off bevel while cutting.

Looking to better understand how “riding the bevel” works? Check out this article next.

40-40 Grind Gouge Heel Reduce Freehand

40/40 Bowl Gouge Grind Conclusion

I must say I was a bit reluctant to give the 40/40 grind bowl gouge a try.

But after developing the DIY 40/40 Gauge, which I needed to quickly set up the platform, and then trying out the bowl gouge, I’m hooked.

I still have my other bevel angled bowls gouges, but I’ve been finding myself grabbing the 40/40 gouge pretty often, and I really like the results.

Try it out the 40/40 grind for yourself, if you haven’t already and let me know what you think of the 40/40 bowl gouge.

Please, leave a comment below.

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Thanks and Happy Turning,

32 Responses

  1. Hi- I downloaded the template, I’m new to this grind so I’m not 100% sure how to set it on the plate. Should the cut out notch be against the wheel? Thanks

    1. Char,

      Thank you for writing and sharing and thanks for the purchase!

      The cut out round notch, when placed up against the wheel with both points touching, will establish the two 40° side angles, which can be marked on the platform. See the images in this article. The other angled notch is used to check the 40° bevel angle at the tip of the tool.

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  2. Kent,

    Thanks so much for all the info. I watch most of your videos and have tried so many of your techniques. I purchased the 40 40 templates and it made sharpening the gouge so much easier on the wolverine platform. Thank you

    1. Kory,

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for your support. I’m so glad that helped you!

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!


  3. Good day Sir. I am one of your Turn A Wood Bowl course students. I want to know what Flute Shape Will Perform Best when considering the 40-40 grind (i.e. Parabolic, V shape or U shape) and if possible, what manufacturer you recommend (Thompson, Carter and Sons or …)? Thanks, BC

    1. BC,

      Good question. I recommend the parabolic flute for all bowl gouge work, regardless of profile and bevel angle. You could use a U-shaped gouge for a micro-bevel bottom-feeder.

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  4. Good day Sir. I want to confirm, what is the Best Flute Shape for creating the optimal 40-40 grind bowl gouge? Thanks in advance for your time, BC

    1. Great question. In general, the parabolic flute is ideal for most bowl gouge profiles, and the most popular today. Happy Turning!

  5. I have a Tormek sharpening system and have had difficulty with the 40/40 grind. Any thoughts or recommendations ? Thanks.

    1. David,
      I’m not as familiar with the Tormek systems as I’d like to be. However, the first thing I would watch closely is that you don’t pass the flute being parallel with the grinding wheel. In other words, make sure when you have the gouge over to its farthest rotation on the wheel that the inside flute wall is exactly parallel to the wheel and don’t go farther. Think of it as a limit point that you don’t want to exceed. See if that helps at all.
      Happy Turning!

  6. Do you have or do you plan to do a video using the 40/40 grind? Would be interesting to see a comparison with the swept back and the pros and cons of both as you appear to be a fan of both.

    1. I took your sharpening course and it was very good. I can now do a much better job sharpening. When sharpening the 40/40 grind I find that I am getting a point at end of tool. What am I doing wrong?

      1. Tim,
        Thank you for writing and sharing!
        Great question. You simply need to spend a little longer time rounding over the nose. It’s easy to focus on the wings and in the process, the nose gets a bit elongated. Just roll around the nose a bit more as you work each side and a noise round shape should return.
        All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  7. Is it me or does the 40/40 grind make cutting the outside of a quarter sawn bowl much harder than it feels ot should be.

    1. It should be any more difficult. Look closely at the bevel edge. Is the bevel smooth an uninterrupted all the way to the cutting edge and continuous all the way around? If, so it should cut like any other bowl gouge, just at a 40° angle.

    2. Kent,
      I had the same experience discovering the 40/40 grind myself. I had turned countless bowls using my trusted 55 degree Irish grind. Finally one day while organizing all of my older worn down gouges I decided to put the 40/40 grind on one of them. All I can say is WOW!!! When you get the gouge lined up on the sweet spot it just wants to keep going! Effortless. I feel like I have so much more control with it. I have also noticed I don’t have to move the tool rest as often to compensate for the downforce on the gouge while it’s cutting.

      1. Josh,

        That’s a great description of how a 40/40 gouge will perform.

        Thanks for sharing,

  8. Kent,

    Your site is awesome, great information and the presentation is excellent. Thank you so much for the content, it’s been helpful and informative.

    Excellent work!

  9. Kent,
    Your website is an amazing wealth of information!! I can’t believe how comprehensive and clear you provide information and education. As someone relatively new to turning I feel so grateful that I happened upon your website. I cannot thank you enough for your time, your generosity and your knowledge and skill at sharing that knowledge.

    I had recently been turned on to the Vimeo videos done my Stuart Batty and I too was amazed at what a difference it made to the QUALITY of cut and amount of cut possible. There still are many situations however in which I too still grab my 50 degree swept back gouge…

    I converted one of my gouges and found I was struggling at getting the angles just right. Thanks for the creating the gauge. I will give it a go!

    1. Hello Amy,

      Thank you for writing and sharing your kind thoughts! I’m grateful for you being here to enjoy this content.

      Let me know what you think of the DIY 40/40 gauge once you’ve used it.

      And you’re right, as nice as the 40/40 gouge is, a sweptback winged gouge is also a goto tool for all my bowl turnings.

      Thank you again and enjoy!

      Happy Turning,

    2. Kent,
      Started turning last April and had unplanned cup of coffee with Stuart Batty at AAW in Raleigh… he sent me his package of info which was great. But, this 40 / 40 explanation and diagrams are the best. Thanks.

      Have 2nd question. Watched long video of you turning thin oak bowl From green log and finished only with Danish oil. I thought Danish oil had some varnish added to the boiled linseed, am I wrong? Also, why didn’t you use a shellac sanding sealer? I’m learning and the curve seems steep at times!
      Thanks, joe

      1. Hello Joe,

        Thank you so much for the kind words and the 40/40 compliment. I’m glad this explanation helps you. And I’m humbled to be compared to Stuart.

        You may be right about some Danish oils having other ingredients like varnish. Unfortunately, wood finishes aren’t like food products and do not require clear labeling. Many manufacturers use known names like “Danish Oil” but put their own ingredients to create their versions.

        Because of this uncertainty, I use Tried and True products. These are the simplest and most pure finishes you can get without making them yourself. The Tried and True Danish Oil is only boiled linseed oil, period. I also like to use Tried and True Original which is linseed oil and beeswax. They also make a Varnish oil which is linseed oil and pine resin. Here’s an article all about the Tried and True Original.

        FYI, I use the Danish Oil for more “rustic” pieces like live edge bowls, but I really like to use the Original (linseed oil and beeswax) because it can be burnished on the lathe after it sets up. See that article for all the details.

        All the best to you and thanks again for writing.

        Happy Turning,

  10. Fascinating information . Just started turning Nov. 2019 have about 10 bowls done self taught by u tube and Pinterest. Will try your jig and convert my gauge to 40/40

    1. Gene,

      Thank you! Let me know what you think once you’ve used the gauge.

      Happy Turning,

  11. I very much appreciate your web site and excellent information. I refer to it frequently. I am intrigued by the 40-40 bowl gouge and will likely try your template to shape one of my bowl gouges. Question: How would you rate the 40-40 gouge for shaping the inside of the bowl, especially the bottom? Thank you, Kent!

    1. Hello Gary,

      Thanks for writing and the question.

      It’s hard to rate a bowl gouge angle I think. It all depends on what you’re currently using.

      If you are trying it and coming from a similar “traditional” grind, the change might not be too extreme.

      However, if you’re currently using carbide scrapers, a 40/40 (or any angled bevel) gouge may take some time to acclimate.

      I’ve found the 40/40 gouge is great for shaping and forming the bowl exterior. Hogging out material is quick when you utilize the nose and side of the cutting wing.

      Clearing out the inside also goes quick. Depending how steep and deep your side walls are will determine how you use the 40/40 gouge inside. To turn tight corners it’s best to grind down the heel so it doesn’t rub and burnish as you cut.

      All in all, the 40/40 gouge is a great overall bowl gouge. It can be used start to finish. I seem to incorporate it most in the exterior portion of my bowls. Then I go to my 55 degree gouge or my micro bevel gouge depending on what’s needed.

      Let me know if this helps.

      Happy Turning,

  12. On setting gouge angles. I recently purchased a Oneway Wolverine sharpening system. Wondering how I would be able to set the angle. I got on the internet and found some Raptor Set Up Templates in 35, 40, 45, 50 and 60 degrees that were designed to be used with the Wolverine Sharpening system.

  13. I downloaded your template and agree this grind works better. No catches so far hollowing bowls. Is it possible to duplicate this grind with the Oneway Varigrind jig? Also, what grit CBN wheels are you using?
    Your site is very helpful.

    1. Hello Paul,

      I’m so glad you’re trying out the 40/40 bowl gouge grind and you’re using the 40/40 template from my online shop.

      As far as I know, using the existing Oneway Vari-Grind Jig set-up there is no way to make the 40/40 grind using the jig. The tool needs to be placed perpendicular to the grinding wheel at the ends and the Vari-Grind jig doesn’t accommodate that much range. While the Vari-Grind Jig is great for so many other bowl gouge grinds, the 40/40 grind isn’t one of them.

      I use 80 grit and 180 grit CBN wheels for my gouge sharpening. The 80 is used to shape or remove more material when needed and the 180 is used for continuous touch-up sharpening.

      Happy Turning,

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Kent Weakley-Turn A Wood Bowl-About
Hi, I’m Kent

Hi! I’m Kent, a husband, dad, papa, graphic designer, photographer, artist, traveler, birder, dark chocolate lover and I’m addicted to turning wood bowls! Learn more about me, see the online courses I made for you, and join our group on Facebook. Ready for your wood bowl adventure? Click here to Get Started

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