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Re: A question on lathe tools

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  • Peter Valentine
    Hmmm... there are opinions than there are turners.. but as its sound like are a beginner... and don t currently plan to make turning the center of your
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 1, 2008

      Hmmm... there are opinions than there are turners.. but as its sound like are a beginner... and don't currently plan to make turning the center of your universe like some of us <sheepish grin> Lets go with simple and practical:

      1) Forget about making your own tools, it can be done and most serious turners end up making many tools, but you first need to exerience a good tool before you go about making them I think (after all you want to make feast gear and stuff and don't want to spend time making tools)

      2) Good tools are worth the money... cheap lightweight tools from companies like Harbor Freight and others may work OK, but I would advise go for quality over quantity. 

      3) By Feast Gear I am assuming that you want to make: Plates, Bowls, Goblets, Salt Cellars, Candle Sticks, etc... With this in mind you need to do a combination of faceplate and spindle turning.

      4) Do you have a WoodCraft store in your area?  Look them up, its is always better to put your hands on a tool before making a purchasing decision, and they usually have knowledge folks in their stores. (Employees AND customers) 

      4) Tools I would suggest to start with:

      • Roughing Gouge: This is the tool that roughs stock down to size... the bigger the better... for your bowls you will be working with rather large stock and its the mass of your roughing gouge that makes all the difference, the heavier the gouge the easier it will be to rough down stock, the tiny gouges the all in one "turning toolkits" give you are a waste of time.
      • Spindle Gouge: Fingernail profile gouges are nice in reducing catches.  Use this for detailed spindle work. Alternately you can use a "Skewchigouge" which is a cross between a skew and a gouge (sometimes called a tripoint tool).  This is a great all purpose tool.
      • Bowl Gouge: This tool is designed to reach in a remove alot of material  fast from the inside of your bowl... it is important to make this tool as massive as you can afford as well as mass again helps keep you from "catches". 
      • End Grain hollowing tool:  These can take many forms, I myself use a Sorby Multi-tip scraper most of the time to hollow with the carbide tip and then shear scrape to a final surface. 

      And from a minimalist perspective I would stop right there.  Purists will say you need to use skew, and that everything can be done using a skew (they are right to a degree) but skews require a much higher degree of skill to use correctly and are very unforgiving... I know several people who tried staring with skews and after several terrible catches they were frightened away from turning.

      There are some other "tools" which are equally important which are not gouges:

      • Sharpening:  I would advise a slow speed grinder with a coarse and fine stone and a "Wolverine Jig", there are many other ways to sharpen your tools, but this approach is fast and relatively foolproof, and without sharp tools, your turning experience will be a torturous one!  How often your will sharpen depends upon alot of factors, but I find that I am sharpening between each piece, and for some woods several times for a single piece.  Having this rig on hand means that sharpening your tools is only a matter of seconds and then you are back to turning.
      • Chuck:  Using a good chuck like a "Nova Chuck" or one from "Talon" is ciritical to bowl and end-work like goblets.  You need to be able to remove the tailstock and work into the end-grain for bowls and goblets and plates... and a good chuck cannot be replaced.  I use the Nova Chuck myself and am quite happy with it.  You can get attachments for screw chucking and different sized jaws for this chuck as well.. .so you can upgrade as you learn.

      Hope it helps,


      --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Brown" <stickbow@...> wrote:
      > Simple question, what about lathe tools. Is quality of the tool the utmost
      > important or is technique? Also, what about making my own tools, is it like
      > a blacksmith in that you just make what works at the time or is there some
      > gotta have tools. I am looking at making mostly feast gear type stuff for
      > family and friend.
      > Domingos

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