A little "hard truth" for the newbies at AAW........sharpening gouges and scrapers:

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by odie, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. odie

    odie

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    No matter how you look at it, the sharper your edge, and more distinct your scraper burrs......the better "tool finish", or quality of cut you can attain. This is probably the most important thing to master, because it will minimize your sanding. The truth is: The better your tool finish, the finer grit you can commence with, and the less you will sand......and the less sanding you do, the less surface distortion you will have. It's very simple, really.......;)

    To be sure, you need to require yourself to know and practice a lot of other techniques and skills, but without sharp tools, things are just not going to work for you.......it MUST be a concerted effort between you and your tools! (I suppose it all depends on how motivated you are in your personal search for perfection, as to how important to you this is.)

    There are some very talented and knowledgeable turners that are satisfied with less than the best edge because, as they say, the burrs and fine sharp edge just don't last very long........AND, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! We all will come to these crossroads, and make our choice. Settle for less, or walk the walk, and find a way to get that sharp edge......and, KEEP IT SHARP.

    Here's my secret for gouges......sharpen and hone.....hone, hone, hone, hone, hone, etc. I probably hone a dozen times before returning to the grinder. Honing will create a secondary bevel, and when that bevel is about 1/32" +/-, it will interfere with function and then returns to the grinder. While honing, keep the hone as flat to the ground bevel as you can, because this will allow you to hone more times, prior to returning to the grinder.

    Some turners don't hone at all......and, for the life of me, I can't understand why keeping the ultra-sharp edge isn't all that important to them. (I suspect it's because they just don't want to pause with what they are doing.......a mistake that bears out in the results!) With gouges, I seldom turn for more than a minute or two, before touching up the edge with a diamond hone. Always, and I do mean ALWAYS, remove the burr from the flute.....it's adds to the ultimate sharpness. (I use a cone shaped diamond.) Think about it.......that burr is the edge bending over.......straighten it out, and the edge is sharper.

    For scrapers, the distinctly sharp edge of the burr dulls even faster than gouges. I find myself returning to the grinder after two or three swipes......often before the wheels of the grinder have completely stopped! It only takes a second, and the improved/maintained quality produced by a properly prepared and presented scraper will bring a smile to your face.......even on tough wood, like burls, most spalting, and endgrain. (It's important to note that on a rounded scraper taking the finest of cuts, you're only using a very small fraction of the available cutting edge available........in most cases, you can extend the life of the burr by using the entire surface of the burr in sections. There are times when this may not be possible (like negotiating an inside curve), but keep it in mind.)

    If you want to eliminate tearout completely with most woods, and have it so minimal that you have to look real closely to see it on the most difficult woods.......maintaining sharp tools is how it's done........:D

    All of the above is in respect to attaining the best possible surface prior to sanding. For roughing and preliminary shaping, the rules can be fudged a little........but never let it get to the point where you're creating unnecessary work for yourself.......sharpen it. Some species of wood, and specific individual examples of most all wood, tend to tearout more than others...... If it goes deeper than where your intended final surface will be.......you're in trouble! :(

    ooc



    I remember seeing a video by John Jordan years ago.......In that video, he had a chalkboard behind him.......and on that chalkboard was written: "The answer to your question is: Sharpen your tool! " .........Soooooo true! :D




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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  2. Brian McInturff

    Brian McInturff

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    Also remember to see what works best for you. Just because some say hone, hone, hone doesn't mean it's the only way. Experiment and see if it works for you and if you can tell a difference. A lot of us don't see a difference.

    It's an argument where there is no correct answer. And tons of discussions on all forums about it, some from some of the best turners in the business.
     
  3. odie

    odie

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    Yes, of course, Brian.........

    Less than as sharp as you can get is good enough for some (I believe I mentioned that.)........all I'm giving is my opinion, which is shared by a few other turners. I've come to my conclusions based on my own experiences with this, and I don't expect what I have come to know as absolute "truths", to be the same for everyone.....but, they definitely are for me! This subject has come up before, and I'm fully aware and understand that each is to their own. It's my intention to allow everyone who has already made their own conclusions, to have their "own space". I am making an effort to reach a few newer turners with my thoughts, in the hopes I can influence their progress for the better.......but, you can lead a horse to water!.......:D

    As far as there being "no correct answer", .....well, there is a correct answer for me, and there is a correct answer for you, and there is a correct answer for anyone who has come to a conclusion on this.......so, yes, there certainly is a correct answer. There may not be a correct answer that fits everyone......but, as individuals and groups.....there is. In the world of woodturning, there is "group think", or, a term that I think I may have coined: "herd mentality"......where there are many things that are considered "how it's done".......some of these things I subscribe to, and some I don't. There are a few things where I seem to be a "lone voice in the wilderness", but on this particular subject, I'm a member of a group of turners who have concluded exactly the same as myself......:)

    I have avoided trying to suggest how to get a sharp edge, My input was intended only to point out that the objective is to get it sharp. I know there are many ways of getting a sharp edge. To be sure, there are many very good methods of getting "sharp"......but, for me to direct the path on how to get it "sharp" was not my intent.......My point was simply that the state of being sharp produces the better "tool finish" overall.......(For some of us! :))

    This is an open thread. If you'd like to expand on your own thoughts, experiences, beliefs, whatever........you are welcome to tell us what you do. ;)

    ooc

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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  4. Brian McInturff

    Brian McInturff

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    Oldie,
    I believe we had this discussion just a few weeks ago. I hone usually for the very final cut. I hone my skew often. I also believe we talked about where to stop in the sharpening/honing.i think you stop at 600 grit on the honing. But, if you want the ultimate sharp then why stop. Why not go to 8000, 12000, or even 20000 diamond paste. I believe you mentioned you didn't see a difference past 600 grit. Likewise I haven't seen a difference(except for finish cuts) from using my wheel(CBN wheels now). When I hone for finish cuts I use a 1200 grit now.

    It should also be mentioned that if you are going to hone then it's imperative to use proper technique as you can easily roll the edge if you don't pay attention and develop proper technique.

    I don't think I've asked you this question - do you hone your SRG(Spindle Roughing Gouge) or do you even use one. Would you hone it if you did use one? Do you hone your drill bits? Saw blades? Hand saws?
     
  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    There are lots of different opinions on sharpening.
    This can be confusing to new turners.

    One thing everyone agrees on is that turning requires sharp tools.

    Almost everyone hones a skew because it is meant to cut with either bevel against the wood.

    Almost everyone uses a bowl gouge directly from the grinder.

    Kirk DeHeer has some excellent materials on sharpening.
    Check out the journal article 2006 vol 4. He also has a video.
    Don Geiger is an excellent sharpening instructor in central Florida.
    And there a lots more.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  6. odie

    odie

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    These are some good questions and points, Brian.......

    Yes, it's true that I stop at 600gt for honing gouges, because I don't see a difference after that point. Thanks for allowing me to make the clarification in that there is a point of "diminishing returns" related to the degree of sharpness. I have found that point, and it is applicable to the overall quality of MY bowl turning......and it isn't exactly the same for everyone. This is mainly because I've found that any sharper, and it it dulls instantly.......no usefulness in that at all. (I have gone to 1200gt, but stopped going any finer.....because, at that point, I had answers!) The degree of sharpness I can get with 600gt honing serves purpose.....but, as I have mentioned, it doesn't last very long. This is the point about "crossroads" I was trying to make for new turners: At some point, they are going to have to re-sharpen. Now, the question is just where that point will be, and how sharp it must be. The only way to make the decision applicable to one's own turning style, is with the benefit of practical application......I'm hoping my input might give these new turners expanded boundaries from which to make that decision.

    "Proper honing technique"......check.......we agree! :D

    I have a SRG, but seldom use it.......almost never, really. Would I hone my SRG?.......good question, but the answer lies in practical experience with the SRG, which I am lacking.

    Do I hone saw blades and drill bits.......? No, I don't....but, get real, Brian.......try to stay focused! :D

    ooc

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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  7. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins

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    yes, and no.
    A sharp tool is a nice thing to use, I have a student who jiged his platten sharpener to sharpen his turning tools. His tools are always sharpened to about 10000 grit, mirror polish. That does absolutely nothing to improve his tool handling or design skills.

    You can find superb work that was done with tools sharpened to 60 or 80 grit and then the turner, with good tool handling, design and finish skills created an object.

    It's just one part of the equation.
     
  8. Agreed, sharp tools help. But, c'mon, let's recognize our own excesses, obsessions, and compulsions for going overboard to achieve the final result (takes one to know one). Especially if you are roughing out, and even if you are finishing.

    One will sand. That's a fact. Sharpness will help with tearout on some woods, but will not help with avoiding smooth transitions and the inevitable humps or ridges when even the slightest deviation in movement with a gouge will give you one. Technique in smooth cuts rather than extreme sharpness will help more in that case. Pressing the bevel or heel into the wood will also necessitate more coarse sanding or going back to a tool to get rid of the compressed or bent over fibers that are a result.

    Efficiency of time is also a factor. Exactly how much time and attention do you want to dedicate to your sharp edge compared to the result you actually need? IOW, what is the return on investment? To save a grit or two, if?

    I never hone my gouges or my scrapers. They come right off the grinder into the wood. My technique has improved to reduce or eliminate tearout, ridges, endgrain compressed fibers, etc. This has helped a lot with sanding. I can now begin with a 120 or 180 grit. Once I concentrate on the obvious defects with my first grit, I can move quickly up the grit ladder. Technique, not honed sharpness, is my greatest obstacle. Shoot, the modern tool steels hold a good enough sharp edge right off the grinder for any turning IMO. And when they lose their sharpness, there is such little steel lost from the grinder to get and edge back that is is not worth considering. One light pass does it.

    Beginners should learn tool technique first and that includes the basics of how to sharpen. To overemphasize a honed edge, IMhumbleO, will lead them slightly astray and waste their time. Time is extremely important in our turning lives, whether a production professional or a hobbyist. Who of us has time to spare?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  9. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    A stropped tool with a brilliant bevel, poorly presented, cuts worse than its non honed companion. The proper advice is Frank Pain's "cut the wood as it wishes to be cut."

    For new folks, you want the shavings to flow and fall, not fly. When you hit the proper angle, you'll have almost no load where you're holding the handle.
     
  10. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Dead on MM. I seldom strop anything but the skew. I use a 100 grit wheel. When I take my time I can turn a spindle that actually has to be sanded to reduce the gloss so it will stain properly. I'm not that good with my bowl gouge but can get cuts that reduce my sanding considerably. I will hone the edge for a final cut if the wood is being difficult. Most of the time speeding up the lathe, using less forward pressure on the cut and using the tool at the proper angle will give a clean cut.
    What does work for me is using tools with sharper cutting angles if they will reach in and still rub the bevel. My bowl gouge is ground to about 50 degrees but I have another ground at 40 and will often use my detail gouge which is ground to 35 degrees if the wood is being difficult and I can reach in with that tool.
     
  11. odie

    odie

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    Question, Mark........

    If the results are an improvement of surface quality, is it an excess, obsession, and/or compulsion?.......or, is it just what a few turners need to do in order to achieve a superior result? For some, minimized effort is acceptable, and it certainly will produce an acceptable result, but there are those who are willing to spend 90 percent of their effort to acquire the last 10 percent of the results. Are the benefits worth all this extra effort? That's a question everyone will have to answer on a personal level.......and not allow the herd to influence that element of individuality.

    Very true about the need to apply strictly applied regulated principles to a "tool finish" * prior to sanding......and not so important for roughing and preliminary shaping. I have pointed this out previously, but it bears validity to repeat the point.

    *edit note: When I say "tool finish", I'm not speaking of the edge quality of the tool itself, but rather the surface quality of the wood being turned prior to sanding.

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  12. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    The debate goes on and on...... I have tried honing on my gouges, and could not notice any difference, or the difference is almost undetectable. I can tell the difference in a freshly sharpened gouge, and one that has done some roughing though. The thing I haven't tried is the Mike Mahoney thing, he prefers a gouge straight from a 45 grit stone because he says that a serrated edge cuts better. I don't even have a stone that coarse. The only time a honed flute has made a difference is when I am trying a dropped handle, non bevel rubbing shear cut. If the burr is still on the inside, it doesn't cut well, but I never use that cut any more as the scraper does it better, and/or I am more comfortable with that cut.

    Odie, I am really curious about your results with scraper burrs. I can rough out the inside and outside of a 12 inch bowl with the burr straight from my grinder, no problem, and there still is sufficient edge left to work on another bowl. This seems to be the same with either HSS or the V10 steel from Doug Thompson. I do use the CBN wheels, and have for over 7 years now (older matrix type, and not D Way wheels). I seem to remember the burr being better than I could get from the white grinding wheels though. The burr from a negative rake scraper does vanish quickly, and again, the CBN wheels do give a better burr. I do tend to push into the wheel rather than just kiss the bevel. A honed burr is very delicate, and I have tried them, but don't find them to be worth the effort. I have tried a honed burr from the CBN hone that D Way sells, and maybe it is because I push pretty hard, that burr is also pretty durable, so maybe I am getting a combined burnished/honed burr. I do have a rather blunt bevel angle, in the 60 to 70 degree range, and could see that if you have a 45 degree bevel, that might be more dainty.

    robo hippy
     
  13. Odie, your personal observations and avoidance of the herd mentality is honored, admired, and commended. I do not wish to be seen as merely antagonistic here. For you, an experienced and accomplished turner, it is not obsessive or compulsive at all. O and C are not all bad. In some cases they can be the driver to get better.

    I just think that any turner, especially new ones, should keep it simple and be accurate about what might be stopping them from being better turners. IMO, for beginners, honing and "scary sharp" are on the list but WAY down it.

    I have seen this phenomenon in other areas of my life. For instance, in sled dog racing, my other passion, many fall into the trap of thinking that there is some smple trick or secret that they are missing in order too magically make their racing team highly competitive. Many try different diets or training techniques in pursuit of this when the real reason is that their dogs are just not able to perform at that level. They are wasting time and putting themselves under a lot of duress just trying to figure out what secret they're missing.

    In turning, I see many shopping for that next new tool that will somehow disappear all the problems that they are having creating a nicely finished piece. Or they are trying to find the correct angle for the tool, as if the angle is the culprit. Astray on the wrong path.

    IMO, beginners should have at the top of the list practice, or time behind a tool. Cut wood and a lot of it. Experiment from different presentations to the wood with only a couple of tools at first. Try to watch other turners and how they handle using cutting tools. All this takes time, and that is my point. By getting comfortable with your tools, you will be spending your time to become an accomplished turner in the most efficient way, and you will be taking a more direct path.
     
  14. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Mark Your dead on with the practice practice practice idea. That makes a huge difference. I remember someone asked John Jordan how to improve their technique. He told them to turn a hundred of something. I agree. I have done several production runs of 50 to hundred and by the end you are cutting much cleaner and faster.
     
  15. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Biggest problem I have with the skew. I would do a run of basting brush handles, and get it down fairly well, then not practice again for a while. Each time I picked it up again, I was down, but not as far as the time before.

    robo hippy
     
  16. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    Have you used a straight chisel? No surprise angles, just the skew to it which you put there. Very friendly tool.
     
  17. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I only have a couple of skews, compared to many gouges. My favorite one is the one that has a convex bevel. A bit more user friendly, especially for turning slight cove shapes. More than anything, it is, like my martial arts teacher said, "10,000 more times!" I have learned to feel the bevel and can apply gouge skills to the skew, but at best, I can do a fair job.

    robo hippy
     
  18. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I counted yesterday and I have 12 skew or skew like tools. I've been collecting different shaped skews to try and learn the differences. I'm going to build one more tonight which looks like the V scrapers sold with the old Craftsman tool kits. My friend has ground the bevel back a little more and uses it a lot like a skew.
    That V scraper looks a lot like Keith Thompkins new V skew but with a different grind. I wanted to play with in and compare it to keiths skew which I also have. Should be fun.
     
  19. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    You don't mean a "bruzz(e)." do you? Old bodger's tool for making V cuts in chair legs. It's a cutting tool, of course, rather than a scraper.

    Picture one, on the bench far left. Note the convex "skew" fourth from left. http://treewright.blogspot.com/2009/05/craft-illustrators.html
     
  20. odie

    odie

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    Howdy Robo.......

    I think it would be best to call this a discussion, rather than a debate. The word "debate" indicates an attempt to prevail, and right from the beginning, I've known there would be disagreement. I've tried to allow some leeway for others to maintain their own opinion, but my beliefs are the result of my experiences in turning bowls.......I've already gone through a lot of "trial and error" in order to come to the conclusions I have......and, for MY purposes, there is definitely a best way. I recognize and understand that my "best way" isn't necessarily going to be what some other turners have come to conclude.

    I may be reading into your post incorrectly, but it seems you may be thinking I'm honing my scrapers......is that correct? Well, I'm not......scrapers go directly from Norton SG 80gt grinding wheels to the lathe.

    We do seem to differ in overall lathe technique somewhat drastically, in that I use scrapers only on a very limited basis for roughing......the majority of my roughing is done with gouges.

    99 percent of my scraper work is for attaining a final tool finish, just prior to beginning the sanding process. The burr from the SG wheels is a good burr, but I don't know how that compares to the CBN wheels that you are using......no experience with that. I can tell you that the burr from the Norton SG wheels is good enough to completely eliminate tearout in all but the most difficult of wood species, conditions, and situations......provided there is proper tool usage with the scraper, and preparation gouge work prior to using the scraper, of course. As I mentioned previously, for the best "tool finish" possible, it does require me to continually dress that scraper on the grinder.......but, I'm talking about mere seconds of time to renew the burr, before getting back to the lathe.

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012

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