My name is Al Geller and I live in the Ventura County, California. I belong to the Channel Islands Woodturners, a woodturning club originally established in October, 2002.
I first met Jerry Glaser in the early 1990’s at the Glendale Woodturning Guild when he gave a talk about metallurgy, sharpening and his tool designs.  My first Glaser Hitec gouge was a Bob Stocksdale gouge.  Jerry later came out with his Hitec  CPM10V (A-11)  tool steel gouges and I purchased several of these.  My all time favorite is still the 3/8” fluted bowl gouge.  In the mid 1990’s Jerry invented his stainless steel screw for screw chucks.  These were to be carefully mounted into a wooden block by the wood turner and made holding wood easy and safe.  I have two of these chucks.  You can now buy a universal type Glaser screw chuck to mount almost any size of wood blank for your lathe.  They are a great improvement.

I will explain how I use a Glaser screw chuck and gouges to make an open bowl.  The gouges are sharpened on a slow speed grinder with an 80 grit wheel.  I personally  use a long fingernail shape grind similar to David Ellsworth’s shape so that the gouge can be used to do the push cut, pull (peeling) cut, and the shear scrape cut.  I use these tools right off the grinder for all my cuts.  I use a diamond credit card type hone to sharpen the gouges for my final cuts.

My experience with Glaser Hitec tools is that the tools stay sharper longer and cut more smoothly than many other tools.  The lead shot filled handles reduce fatigue on roughing out irregular blanks.  The extra mass in the handles helps to smooth out the vibration created by aggressive roughing out cuts.  They are my tool of choice when turning natural edge irregularly shaped bowls.

I review each blank prior to mounting it on a screw chuck and predetermine the bowl size and shape.  This may change due to bark inclusions, hidden defects, etc. but I will start out with a definite design in mind.  I draw the bowl cross section on paper and review it for aesthetics and practicality.  I do not use the “Golden Rule”.  I try to obtain the most pleasingly shaped bowl from the blank.  This may mean that I may “waste” some wood in order to achieve my design goal.

The blank center is located and a 1/4” Ф hole is drilled. The Glaser screw chuck is then screwed on.  The outside of the bowl is shaped.  I typically use a 1/2” or 5/8” Glaser bowl gouge using push and peeling cuts.  If the bowl is to be remounted in a 4 jaw scroll chuck, final shear scraping and shaping is done after it is on the 4 jaw scroll chuck.  If the blank is mounted on a glue chuck, the entire exterior of the bowl and the foot is shear scraped and sanded before mounting on the glue chuck.

After the bowl is remounted, and the tailstock is in place, I check the blank’s concentricity on the lathe and true up the exterior and rim as required.  I cut the interior of the bowl usually in two or three stages, maintaining the bulk of the wood in center for stability.  If you are creating a thin wall bowl, checking for “valleys” and end grain tear-out is important at each stage before the next deeper stage is cut.  I always use a freshly sharpened and honed gouge for my final passes.  My favorite finishing gouge is a 3/8” bowl gouge with a double grind.  This lightweight tool allows me to hear and feel the wood as I do the final finish cuts.

For the final bottom bowl cuts, I have a steeply ground 3/8” gouge with a fingernail grind.  The steep grind angle – about 80 degrees – allows me to do the bowl wall transition and the bottom easily.  I use the gouge with the flute rolled at 45o to the horizontal.  When I cut the bottom of the bowl, I roll the flute to a horizontal position when I approach the center.  This helps reduce tear-out.

I use a jamb chuck to clean up and shape the bottom of the foot.  The final nub is removed with a hand gouge and power sanding with a 1” power sanding disk.  I sand my pieces on the lathe at 200 – 300 RPM using a final grit from 1200 to 2000 depending upon the wood species and usually finish with a wipe on polyurethane.

I made this bowl, start to finish in about 2 hours, including the time it took to put the glue chuck on and off.  The wood is very dry piece of Big Leaf Maple from Northern California.  It is hard and somewhat brittle in the burl area.  The outside was roughed out in less than 10 minutes with the Glaser 5/8″ bowl gouge.  I did not have to resharpen the tool for the final shear scrape.  After the bowl was remounted in the glue chuck, the interior was turned in two sequences.  Because there is a significant recess in the bowl exterior due to the burl shape, a large rim was formed so that the bowl interior did not go thru the recess.  The wood thickness at the recess is less than 1/8″.   I finished the bowl interior with the 3/8″  Glaser bowl gouge, my favorite tool.  I honed the edge for the final pass.  These tools stay sharp and allow me to keep turning and concentrating on the design rather than having to stop and regrind.  The whole process was very pleasurable.  Being able to turn a chunk of wood into a finished  bowl in 2 hours is just great.


Al Geller started into woodworking when he was 10 and has continued  throughout his life,  moving from making furniture and cabinets to bowl making.  He started turning in the early 1990’s and has been involved in AAW and the local AAW woodturning club, Channel Islands Woodturners.  He currently mentors club members and sponsors a mentoring program at the local Middle School in Ventura, Ca.  Major interests include bowl and vessel design and  surface embellishment.

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