Glossary of Woodturning Terms: Tools

Beading Tool: A small chisel with a semicircular cutting end, used to form a bead.

Bedan: A cutting tool generally made with a wedge-shaped cross section. It is used in spindle turning to create beads, coves, and tapers. The bedan is very popular in European countries, especially France.

Boring Tool: A type of hollower used to enlarge and accurately finish a large bore (hole).

Bowl Gouge: A gouge with a deep flute and a thick cross-section, mainly used for faceplate turning.

Carbide Tools: The general term for specialized scrapers that use replaceable cutters made from carbide. The cutters are generally square, for roughing or tapering; rounded, for shaping coves and beads; or pointed, for detail work. Proponents of these tools say they are easier to use than conventional gouges and skews.

Chatter Tool: A specialized tool to create decorative textures and patterns.

Chisel: A cutting tool that is square or rectangular in cross-section and ground with a double bevel at the cutting end.

Cut-off Tool: See parting tool.

Diamond Parting Tool: A parting tool with tapers ground along its length to provide clearance for the tool. In cross section, the tool has a diamond shape. Because of that shape, the tool is unlikely to bind in a deep cut.

Detail Gouge: A variant of the spindle gouge. Its cutting end is ground to a fingernail-like point. This tool is meant for fine detail work on spindles and bowls.

Gouge: The general term for a cutting tool with a flute along its length. Modern gouges are made from round tool steel blanks.

Hook Tool: A specialized turning tool that features a hook-shaped cutting tip. Some turners favor hook tools for end grain hollowing projects.

Hollower: The general term for many different types of tools designed to cut out the deep sections of steep bowls, vases and hollow vessels. Hollowers often have very long handles, to maintain enough leverage when working in a deep vessel, with the cutting edge far away from the hand rest.

Negative Rake Scraper: A scraper with a secondary bevel ground on its top face. Used for light finishing cuts, a negative-rake scraper is said to be easier to use and produces a smoother surface than a conventional scraper.

Parting Tool: A pointed tool used to separate (part off)  work from the lathe and to cut a narrow channel into the workpiece.

Point Tool: A specialized tool that cuts fine accent lines to separate decorative patterns.

Scraper: A tool that removes wood by scraping across the grain instead of cutting through it. Sharpening a scraper raises a burr along the cutting edge; it’s the burr that does the tool’s work. Scrapers need frequent sharpening and are used with or without the burr, depending on the species and the turner’s preference. Scrapers come in many different sizes, thicknesses and shapes.

Skew Chisel: A chisel-shaped cutting tool with the edge ground at an angle, not square to the shaft. Some turners prefer a skew with a straight cutting edge; others prefer one with a curved cutting edge. Skew chisels are used only on spindle work, never on faceplate work. They should be honed after sharpening to create a razor edge. One of the most feared and loved of all woodturning tools, skew chisels are used primarily in spindle turning for turning beads, making V cuts, and for shaping tapers. The skew requires good tool control and ample practice to master. When properly sharpened and honed, a skew can leave a finish on the surface of the wood that needs little, if any sanding. The skew is typically made from a piece of rectangular tool steel; some are ground to be oval in cross-section.

Spindle Gouge: A gouge with a flute that is shallower than that on a bowl gouge. You use a spindle gouge to turn beads, coves, tapers, shoulders, ogee curves, and various combinations of these shapes. Modern spindle gouges are milled from round bar stock.

Spindle Roughing Tool: See Spindle Roughing Gouge

Spindle Roughing Gouge: A cutting tool designed to remove the square corners from a spindle and to do the rough shaping of gentle curves.

Swan Neck Hollowing Tool: Increases the reach and angle of the turner. Used when blind turning and undercutting is made necessary or where reach is restricted.

Texturing Tool: A specialized tool with a textured head to cut shapes and patterns into the work.

Thread Cutting System: A specialized tool to cut wood threads cleanly and consistently.