What Are the Different Types of Wood Lathe Tools?

Wood lathe tools are essential for shaping and crafting wood into beautiful creations. They include gouges for hollowing, skews for smooth finishes, parting tools for cutting, and scrapers for refining. Each tool has a unique purpose, ensuring precision and artistry in every turn. Intrigued by the possibilities? Discover how these tools can transform simple wood into intricate masterpieces.
Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

Gouges, skew chisels and hollowing tools are all wood lathe tools used to complete a variety of projects. Made of quality steel tooling with a typical wood or composite handle, wood lathe tools can be resharpened to survive for the life of the average home woodworker in most cases. Some of the specialty tools are honed to a razor's edge to enable the woodworker to make very smooth finishing cuts on a project; however, some tools are not required to be as sharp. There are often many sizes of each type of tool in the average woodworker's tool chest, with each size and style relating to a special intended purpose.

Commonly, the first of the wood lathe tools to be used on any project is the gouge. This tool allows the woodworker to bring the square piece of wood down to a round piece suitable for working. This tool resembles a C or a U shape on its cutting edge and is used to remove a lot of wood in a short amount of time. The finish after using this tool will remain rough, and often these wood lathe tools are turned on edge to promote cutting in tight confines. It is not uncommon to use several of these wood lathe tools in different sizes to produce the desired finished effect with the turning.

The cutting tools attached to a lathe vary in size and function.
The cutting tools attached to a lathe vary in size and function.

Once the initial shaping of the workpiece has been accomplished, the next of the wood lathe tools to be used is commonly a skew chisel. The skew chisel is comprised of a flat-edged blade on a diagonal and is used to make a flat surface where the gouge left small ruts. By running this tool over the surface of the turning wood, small curls of wood are removed, creating a much smoother surface than was left by the gouge. Care must be taken when using this or any of the wood lathe tools to avoid overheating the cutting edge. This will diminish the cutting ability of the tool and could damage the surface of the wooden project as well.

A parting tool is one of several wood lathe tools that is intended to cut the finished work piece away from the chuck end or the center point once the work is ready to be removed from the lathe. Looking much like a narrow, two-bladed arrowhead, this tool is used to make deep cuts in the turning wood. Scrapers are another type of wood lathe tool that are used to create a smooth surface in the work.

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    • The cutting tools attached to a lathe vary in size and function.
      By: David San Segundo
      The cutting tools attached to a lathe vary in size and function.