I'm fairly new to bowl turning and I was just wondering how many people utilize bowl scrapers. My biggest problem right now is cleaning up the ridges from my bowl gouge. Just wondering if a scraper is worth the $100+ price tag to get a super smooth finish.
"Super smooth finish" may be a reach too far. Normal flat scrapers can be pretty aggressive, especially since they are generally used near the end of the turning process and the piece may have gone out of round. They can also leave you with nasty tearout on softer woods. A catch can make a nearly complete bowl into firewood pretty quickly.
I would suggest two things...(1) work on your gouge sharpening and positioning, plus be sure you have a continuous pass from beginning to end...(2) go on E-bay and look for negative rake scrapers.
There are some Hurricane, etc. brand flat scrapers on Amazon and E-bay for less than $60. They can be ground as negative rake scrapers. As long as it is HSS steel, they will work OK. Easy wood tools is now marketing a negative rake carbide replacement tip for their tools in case you have one of theirs.
Tomcat90501 in Ca. grinds really nice looking negative rake scrapers from used flat scrapers and apparently prices them based on brand, width and thickness, plus a fee for grinding. You can get a 1" wide Craftsman for bowls up to 8" or so for less than $40 delivered. The thicker, wider ones are about $100 delivered.
While flat scrapers with a negative burr are possible to form and maintain, the rational behind negative rake scraping is that it uses a fairly large turned burr on the edge (like a cabinet scraper,) plus it is negatively pitched, making it less aggressive. The burr is consumed pretty quickly, so be prepared to re-form the burr edge frequently with a tool steel rod, and re-grind after it after it no longer forms a nice burr.
I copied the following from his page. I assume he won't mind since this information is on each page of his scraper sales, and he states that he and his Dad learned this from someone else. There is some good information here... Negative rake scrapers will cut the wood much cleaner than standard flat top scrapers, but will dull much faster. They are not a replacement for good tool technique. They are not a bulk wood removal tool. They’re a finesse tool used to clean up/touch up the interior or exterior of bowls or other turned projects by removing small micro lines, torn grain or making the final finishing or shaping cuts.. The scraper will cleanly cut very small amounts of wood leaving the surface ready for 150 to 220 grit sanding. They also work very well on plastics and acrylics cutting cleanly with a lot less chip-out. The scrapers also work very well on segmented turnings and stabilized materials. It takes me more than one hour to properly regrind / re-profile a scraper of this size and thickness.
Lastly, these negative rake scrapers don’t tend to get catches, very user friendly chisels. I personally have half a dozen of these types of chisels in different profiles in my own tool collection. Negative rake scraping is a technique dad and I learned from Stuart Batty. I’m told that it’s a very old technique that was used in the production of Ivory billiard balls in England.
A note on sharpening: I recommend you sharpen the small micro bevel. Small bevels sharpen faster and that is the point of this suggestion. The micro bevel also allows the bottom of the scraper to have a wider foot print for stability on the tool rest. The location of the cutting edge in the body of the tool steel doesn’t affect its performance. Use a good quality Aluminum Oxide wheel H, I, J hardness on the grinder and keep it dressed and clean. A dirty wheel won't raise a good burr. the softer wheels like the Norton ceramic jell wheels are what I ground this scraper on.
Blackhawk, where are you getting the ridges? are they in the sides of the bowl or more towards the bottom of the bowl?
Are you rubbing the bevel of the bowl gouge? If you're rubbing the bevel, you really shouldn't be getting ridges. Watch some more YT videos about how to use the bowl gouge. Here's one by Mike Waldt that's pretty good:
Michael - I get more ridges in the side of the bowl (on the inside). I am rubbing the bevel, but I think I just still need more practice to get good tool control. I think my ridges come from breaking out of the cut. I need to get better at holding the cut all the way to the bottom.
Also...think about learning shear scraping to get a better final finish.
And finally...if you have a skew that is wider than 1/2", that grind is basically a negative rake scraper...practice with that to learn the technique.