Q: I recently received a detail gouge as a gift and was wondering why the grind looks and feels rough. Do I have to run it through a light grind to smooth it before I start turning? I thought I could just grab a new tool and start turning.
A: Turning tools do not necessarily come out of the package smoothly sharpened, although some are better than others. In most cases, you will need to at least hone the bevel and cutting edge because the tool was only roughly ground by the manufacturer. In this case, I’ll assume that the profile of the cutting edge and the bevel angle are correct for your needs.
In the worst case, the entire cutting edge will need to be reground to change the profile, adjust the angle of the bevel and finely sharpen it. First, use a coarse-grit grinding wheel to reshape the tool, then switch to a fine-grit wheel to smooth the bevel and cutting edge and/or hone the tool’s bevel and edge with a wet stone.
Some inexpensive turning gouges also have milling marks left inside the flute. These fine lines reduce the sharpness of the tool’s edge. Remove them with a curved stone (known as a slip). Take care to avoid rounding over the tool’s cutting edge.