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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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What Is Sharpening

Before we can dive too far into the topic of sharpening, we need to answer the question, what is sharpening?”

Quite simply sharpening a woodturning tool for bowl making is a process of returning the bevel edge of a tool to a smooth condition where it merges and creates a burr at the tool’s top cutting edge.

The bowl gouge, the most used bowl turning tool, is made up of several different parts; the shaft, flute, cutting edge, bevel, and heel. When we talk about sharpening, we are most concerned with the cutting edge and the bevel.

Bowl Gouge Bevel Tip Labeled Infographic

To make the cutting edge sharp, we need to make the bevel clean, smooth, and consistent up to the cutting edge. It’s really that simple.

With the proper equipment and knowledge, returning a sharp edge to a woodturning tool takes only a few seconds and minimal effort.

Collapse Comments

You mention cbn grit but not width. I’ve read that the additional surface with the 1 1/2″ wide wheels is easier to work with, but do you feel the additional cost is worth it?

Kent W (Administrator) November 29, 2023 at

Good Question. Yes, the wider wheels make it easier for maneuverability.

Raymond Rathburn November 4, 2023 at

i am about to start the sharpening course, but have noticed that the Kodiak sharpening system from Woodturners Wonders is not in the course. i realize that you can’t cover every system that is available. Do you have any comments about the Kodiak system?

I have been turning bowls and other things for about 5-6 years now and teach a segmented bowl making class in a retirement community wood shop. We teach the use of scrapers. That has worked well because they are easy to learn. I am trying to expand my turning skills and I am really interested in your sharpening course.

Thanks, I am looking forward to completing your course.

Kent W (Administrator) November 5, 2023 at

Thank you for writing and sharing!
We don’t specifically cover the Kodiak system here, but I think you will see many applicable practices you can incorporate into your sharpening. Also, most of the lessons here deal with universal sharpening ideas, issues, and solutions.
All the best to you teaching at your local wood shop. Great for you!
Enjoy and Happy Turning!

Can you tell me if you utilize both U & V shaped bowl gouges? What are the difference and when would you use one over the other? Would you grind both the U & V using different bevel angles or would you stay with the 55 degree swept back? This is my second course and l’m looking forward to it!

Kent W (Administrator) May 3, 2023 at

U & V flute gouges are old gouge designs that you don’t often find anymore. I suggest avoiding them and sticking with parabolic flutes only.
Happy Turning!
Kent September 22, 2022 at

What two grits do I need for keeping my turning tools in good condition on my bench grinder

Kent W (Administrator) October 16, 2022 at

I use an 80 grit CBN wheel to shape tools and a 180 grit for sharpening. That’s it. August 24, 2022 at

In my collection of 6 very used gouges I received with my used lathes I have what I believe to be 5 spindle and 1 bowl gouge, but the rounded flat tips and bevels (or lack there of) is making it difficult to be sure of what I am identifying.
Is it safe to say that if the shaft goes straight into the handle without a smaller tang, that is a bowl gouge. But if the tang narrows and is smaller than the shaft, it is a spindle gouge?

Kent W (Administrator) August 26, 2022 at

Good question. Both the spindle and bowl gouge should have a solid shaft that does not taper into the handle. Any tool that tapers into the handle must be used with extreme caution when turning a bowl, and never used to remove bulk material. The tapered area is the weak point that WILL break under pressure.

I hate to say this, but if these are older tools, they might not be what you really need. That being said, you can do amazing work with just a simple 1/2″ bowl gouge, then add a 5/8″ later if you can. All the best to you and Happy Turning! August 27, 2022 at

Thanks for the advice. I’ll be buying a couple of hurricane gouges to start and toss the golden oldies.

Kent W (Administrator) September 7, 2022 at

Yeah, probably the best approach. Happy Turning! August 22, 2022 at

HAHA I left a comment on the last lesson about what antique machines I have put together for wood working but forgot to mention my sharpening system. I have a 6 inch bench grinder from Bauer (Harbor Freight) and the Wolverine Grinding system the Veri-Grind jig and Set Up Blocks. I have added a Gytycatah CBN grinding wheel and Aluminum Oxide wheel. I think I’m ready for class.

Kent W (Administrator) August 23, 2022 at

Again, it sounds like you have everything lining up. I wish all the best.

Happy Turning!
Kent June 9, 2022 at


To start I have really enjoyed your video’s on YouTube, you are an excellent instructor! I guess I just have some comments/fustrations in purchasing the right equipment before you even know what would work best for you. Grinders: Slow speed or High Speed: Well Richard Raffan, Who’s Who in wood turning has used a high speed grinder his whole career. If you watched the Wolverine One Way system video’s they also use a high speed grinder with 36 and 80 grit. As stated if you watch the tool and keep from overheating with water and too much pressure the high speed grinder will do. Also sure they are trying to speed things up for the video’s I would guess. The 80 grit is the finish cut to go right back to the turning.

In watching your video’s I saw you, as do others, using the CBN slow speed wheels and grinders. Yours with the 80 and 180 grit. So I guess you can see where some like me who want to get going have issues to resolve. I already have a Tormek T7 system since I am a knife collector. It is great for getting an amazing sharp edge on blades, but not the best when it comes to shaping HSS tools that would take way too long. Doing wood turning as Raffan stated you want to get right back to turning and not spending your time sharping. So, I bought the Bucktool slow speed grinder that came with 80 & 120 Alum/Oxide (white) wheels and the Wolverine system. Following your example I also ordered an 80 and 180 CBN Hurricane wheels having no idea if I will be happy with.

I am retired and live in Florida and also have a large chunk of land in West Virginia with every variety of tree and why with so much wood it would be fun making use of it. I have turned several pens and have cut a lot of burls out of cherry and other woods ready to do some bowls. I have a chainsaw lumbermill system also to make use of all the lumber from fallen trees in storms, etc. Speaking of lumber, one year for every inch of thickness to dry! I don’t think I will make it for what I have already cut, thus bowls I can enjoy much faster seemed the ticket! Know my small Rikon lathe will not cut it and will be looking with more confusion at a larger lathe to do what I would like in woodturning.

So please don’t write as much as I did or you can’t teach no lessons! Just some comments from a guy who is use to typing long investigative reports for 35 years.

Look forward to learning much more from you!

Be Safe!

Kent W (Administrator) June 10, 2022 at


Thank you for writing and sharing!

High-speed grinders are fine for oxide cake wheels. You don’t need CBN wheels turning that fast. The slow-speed grinders are at 1750 rpm +/-. And by the way the oxide wheels eat through tools like butter. CBN wheels will help your tools last much longer.

Be sure to see this video

LOL. I can only imagine what your investigative reports must look like. 😉

All the best to you and Happy Turning!
Kent June 10, 2022 at

Yes, all this was just a test of your knowledge and more importantly your since of humor that was proved in your last comment! My wife agrees completely!! LOL!! January 27, 2021 at

Hello Kent,
Just watched the sq bowl turning vdo.
liked the way you described the process , so am interested to learn more .will go through the program.
I am sure it will be fun and much hands on learning.

Kent W (Administrator) January 27, 2021 at

Yes, indeed.

Enjoy and Happy Turning,

Good discussion

Kent W (Administrator) January 19, 2021 at

Thanks, glad you liked this. I think it is important to consider the what’s and why’s. Happy Turning!

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