Professionals and Amateurs Together

Sharpening a Bowl Gouge


Should a burr be left on when sharpening a bowl gouge?—Norman Miner


Bruce Wedlock replies: I’ve heard that you can leave the burr on, but good sharpening always hones the burr off. So get a conical hone to remove it.

Jon Siegel replies: In general a burr is left on a scraper, but removed from cutting tools such as gouges and skews. Many turners say that the burr breaks off in the first few seconds anyway, so there is no reason for removing it. However, I think a burr that is removed in a controlled way (e.g. with a stone, strop, or buffing wheel) will leave a smoother edge than leaving the burr to break off randomly, and thus the chisel will stay sharp longer.

Having said that, it all depends on what operation you are performing. If you are roughing out a burl, you can probably skip the deburring, but for finishing cuts, especially on soft wood, you should remove the burr.

Donna Banfield replies: If it makes you feel better, go ahead. But I’ve never felt any difference in cutting if I removed a burr from a bowl gouge or not. That burr is gone in a matter of seconds once you begin using it. What’s more important is to keep that edge sharp, and that may require going to the grinder several times during your turning session. The only turning tool that I hone to remove a burr is the skew.

Claude Dupuis replies: A burr will naturally occur from the sharpening process. Deburring is not necessary as the burr will be knocked off as soon as you start turning. In some cases a burr is required—I’ve seen David Elsworth do this—to do a final sheer cut.

Tags: Bowl, Sharpening, Woodturning