Correct Gouge grind for segmented turning


warren maker

Hi guys, new to Segmented turning, I have made a couple of pieces and having good success so far.
I really struggle with grain orientation for segmented turning. Is it side grain, end grain or a mixture of both ? :confused:

Which leads me to my main question; What is the best type of bowl gouge to use, and specifically what grind to use. Stuart Batty says the 4-40 grind is not good for side grain for instance, but excells on end grain..... but what type of grain are we actually cutting when doing segmented turning. My feeble brain says it is actually quite unique. Is it not a type of end grain turning similar to a bowl,... but yet quite different.
When I have all my rings glued up on the lathe and am about to start turning. When I look at the grain it runs different to any other style of turning we would normally do on solid items such as spindle or bowl turning..... correct ? or am i just way over thinking it.
Anyway, my main question still stands; what is your favourite gouge and grind for segmented work. ESPECIALLY for large items like floor urns etc. I like them BIG, :p

Thanks in advance...


Super Moderator
Staff member
Malcolm Tibbets in the "Art of Segmented Woodturning" states that the segmented bowl construction should be where the grain runs in the same directions as much as possible. Most turners cut the segments, so the ends are end grain and the face is side grain.

What is the best type of gouge is a difficult question to answer. It depends on what you are wanting to accomplish. I personally use a spindle gouge with a finger grind. I also use carbide tipped cutters, scrapers, etc. All depends on what part of the vessel I am working on.

I suspect if you ask 10 turners your gouge question you will get 10 different answers.


PRO Member
For most of my work I use the Hunter Tools Osprey 1/2". There is a big difference between this cutter and flat cutters like those from Easy Wood tools. The Osprey takes very small cuts which makes it easy to use with open segments as well as solid rings.

For the final finish I use a Thompson negative rake scraper ground 15 degrees on the top and 65 degrees on the bottom. The angles are not critical as long as the total of the two is less than 90. In almost all cases I start sanding with 220 and finish with 400.

Ken Sherwin

PRO Member
The grain is pretty much always face or edge grain depending on how you oriented the stick when you cut it. With a 12-segment ting, the grain is always within 15 degrees of straight and more segments makes that number even smaller. Tearout due to grain direction should never me a problem. Some chipout can happen at the segment joint in one ring when you are just starting the turning. When that happens (or I'm afraid it might happen), I blunt those points with a sander to reduce the impact of the gouge hitting those points. In the case of the red piece in the pic to the left, I had to clean off those points a little bit to even get the piece to clear the bedways. It's the biggest piece I've ever made.

When I do get tearout, either my tool is dull or I've stopped slicing and started scraping. A fresh touchup on the gouge can never hurt and is always needed sooner than you think.

I mostly use a Pinnacle 5/8" bowl gouge with a fingernail or Ellsworth grind. I think the more important of the grind is the repeatability from one sharpening to the next and not the exact shape. If the edge is not repeatable, you can never get used to it and improve your tool handling. I was never able to freehand a repeatable edge so I got a Wolverine Varigrind system. That eliminated the wonky grinding I was doing and my sandpaper expense plummeted.
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warren maker

thanks Ken, sounds like good advice. I am currently honing my sharpening skills,, :p


PRO Member
Well, here's a different approach to the grain. In bowls 99% of all turnings is side grain, but with pens i often have end grain, depending of the (segmented) design.
The tools i use in the first place is a spindle gauge crown pro-pm half inch. Then i have made 6 or 8 scrapers from old metalfiles. Also a round carbide tool works well. Except the carbide tool i sharpen all tools on a beltsander, freehand, 240 grain belt on it.
I have a slow waterstone and a honing wheel but there is so little differnce that i keep the beltsander close to me, works very well.
If i turn a pen with endgrain parts i sharpen the tools before the last cut. Rarely chipout. Sanding begins at 120, 240, 320 and 400, then ca and micromesh.


PRO Member
I only use carbide for bowls and pens and have never used HSS. With carbide grain orientation is less of a problem. I have made segmented pens with all end grain and had no problem. I mostly use Easy Wood cutters but on tools from other than Easy Wood - saves a lot of money. It is the cutter that is the most important. EW will tell you that their cutters must be used on their tools for best results. Since I have never used their tools I can't verify that. All I can say is that so far I have not experienced any problems with other tools. As long as the cutter sits correctly and is properly anchored I don't see an issue. I also own the Hunter Tools Osprey 1/2". Since this behaves more like traditional tools I am still learning how to use it. When I occasionally get it right it does cut very nicely - a work in progress!!