Carbide turning tools

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Lawrence Tarnoff, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. DOCworks

    DOCworks

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Messages:
    231
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Home Page:
    I teach basic bowl turning at the local WoodCraft and this is a subject that I've had discussed with new turners and WoodCraft owners and sales personal. Since I teach for WoodCraft I can't "bad mouth" the tools and quite frankly wouldn't anyway. They have their place and use. But I have always stressed basic bowl turning should be about learning to turn to get the best results. This last Saturday one of the turners brought their 3 "Easy" turning tools, well it was "now what" time. I went over the basic pro's and con's of these tools and that fact that I did use them for some projects and was not anti their use. I also let them know that we would be using bowl gouges for the class, but if the student wanted to use her tools that would be fine. We were using Dry Popular and what saved me was having them use the Easy tools and feel the finish and then I used my Doug Thompson bowl gouge on the same surface and let them feel the surface. Everyone was happy to try the bowl gouges. For instructors this is going to be more and more of an issue. Cost of ownership for the Carbide tools is really lower at least at first, as you have no grinder, wheels, jigs and jig for the jigs to worry about. At some point I'm going to have to put something together to compare the two options for new turners and try to be objective. Should be fun.
     
  2. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,136
    Location:
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    Bill, something that you could include in the comparison is that after buying four carbide tips, you will have spent more than the cost of a basic bench grinder.
     
  3. john lucas

    john lucas

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    5,829
    Location:
    Cookeville TN USA
    Of course you still need a grinder. I haven't seen a carbide tool that looks like a parting tool. They also won't reach into some places so you would still need a detail gouge or a skew. I sharpened for years on disc sander attached to the lathe and then on a hand held belt sander turned upside down so the there are ways to sharpen without the high expense.
     
  4. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,867
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    It still baffles me. The carbide tipped tools are scrapers. Nothing more. Most of the 'bowl' scrapers sold are way to wide, and perhaps the bad reputation for self feeding and heavy catches, and the smaller ones are way too thin. 3/8 thick, and 1 inch wide is just right for a bigger lathe.

    robo hippy
     
  5. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    Hawi, Hawaii
    Home Page:
    I am with the others that say learn how to use a bowl gouge.
    Bill your thing of having folks feel the finish from a scraper vs. a gouge is a good one.
    Alan Carter uses the Easy Wood tools. Some woods really dislike being scraped. When he was here we gave him Koa to turn. Those tools were absolute garbage for turning Koa. He said thats why God invented sandpaper. I dont think so but that may just be my opinion.
     
  6. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    Messages:
    2,629
    Location:
    Plano, Texas
    Home Page:
    Robo, I would agree the Easy Wood are scrapers but the edge justs last longer. The Hunters , and others that use an insert with a gullet , don't scrape, they definitely cut. The down side is they don't work like a gouge. In a gouge, you can take a cut as deep as the lathe and the gouge will allow, on a carbide, it has more to do with the size of the insert and the depth/width of the gullet. Maybe my terminology is off, but in shallow and finish cuts, and end grain for sure, the carbide is fantastic. But in sheer stock removal, the gouge still rules. Now mastering a carbide scraper over a gouge is a different learning curve.

    But Eazy wood tools are bringing a lot of people into the hobby who then want to progress to a gouge and learn more.
     
  7. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,867
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    Well Steve, I need to show you some tricks with a scraper. How much you can take off depends on how much steel you can put into the wood, how hard you push, and how much horse power your lathe has. It really isn't the tool. I will be in Phoenix in 2014, with a lathe, maybe I can get you in my booth and we can make some shavings fly.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKdqiAc0jx4

    robo hippy
     
  8. odie

    odie

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Messages:
    4,424
    Location:
    Deep in the woods
    I just received a Penn State Industries catalogue the other day.......and, on the back page, I notice there's yet another carbide tool being introduced. These carbide tools must be selling like hotcakes!

    Personally, my take on this is it's really a shame that, apparently, many of the newer turners are using these carbide tools, instead of going through the process of learning how to sharpen properly. The shame in this is carbide insert tools automatically incorporate limitations on their horizons. To expand those horizons, a turner positively needs to master tool techniques required by traditional gouge shapes, as well as the versatility of multiple grinding options and shapes for each gouge.

    While I can understand the reasoning behind Al's comment, I'm not so sure starting out with carbide insert tools is going to lead to the best end result for new turners as they progress over time......mainly because they will be relying on a "crutch", rather than learning how to run. Carbide insert tools can provide instant results (And, I'm sure that is a thrill for the newbie), but they lack the potential traditional gouges provide.

    I remember some comments by John Lucas about how he used the Hunter tool to shear scrape an excellent tool finish. Although I agree, that it's possible to get a good cut with an angled carbide tip used for limited applications (I've done it with my own Hunter tools), they just lack the versatility of various shapes possible with a gouge. If someone were to concentrate on very basic simple shapes, they could get by very comfortably using the carbide tools. When these same turners wish to tackle shapes that require more skill, they will find their carbide tools just don't have what it takes........and, now they will have to start all over again......learn sharpening, and traditional gouges......or, forever be limited to the carbide tools they have chosen.

    Kelly......It may be your opinion, but it's also my opinion, and the opinion of most all turners who have hung in there long enough to learn how to use traditional gouges.......and learned how to sharpen a keen edge. I am familiar with Alan Carter's very excellent work, but he isn't a very traditional turner. His work relies on results obtained off the lathe. This is perfectly ok, but I can understand why sanding isn't an issue for him, as applied to the artwork he produces.

    For me, sanding is a very huge issue. I just could not arrive at the quality I desire any other way, than to have a tool finish that requires the bare minimum of sanding. Sanding destroys the crispness of the intersection of two surfaces. Sanding also prevents the possibility of very shallow, and finely executed detail grooves. For me, sanding very minimally is not something that is just nice......it's an absolute necessity.

    There is another issue I've found with carbide tools.....and, in my opinion, this is a big one. Whether we're using carbide, or M2 steel, the sharpness is the same for a fresh edge. Both will cut as well as the other. OK......now, listen to this: Both carbide and M2 will begin to dull the very instant they are used. Granted, the rate of dulling for carbide is much less than the M2. However, each and every time, I pick up one of my gouges for a different purpose, I hone......or sharpen and hone. EVERY SINGLE TIME I use my gouges, they are as sharp as a fresh carbide tool. If we were to add a fresh edge to the carbide insert the moment it wasn't quite as sharp as it left the factory, using them would get mighty expensive! It's just the natural aspect of using carbide, that a turner will use them until it's obviously not as sharp as it should be. The results are this....... Those who use carbide tools exclusively, and because of the costs involved in purchasing carbide inserts, are limiting the overall quality of their work because they are using a tool with less than the optimum degree of sharpness. (I hope that made some sense, because I feel this is a profound truth.)

    Learn how to sharpen, and hone. It' so darned easy to maintain the keenest edge ALL THE TIME, that the more experienced turner would just have to rely on twisted logic to think carbide tools are better than traditional tools. The downside to this, is one will just have to invest the time and effort to learn how to sharpen. It took me years to know how to sharpen.....and, to even know the difference between sharp, and sort of sharp! It's obvious to me that some "experienced" turners just don't have an understanding of "sharp", how to get it, and how to use it. (They think they do!)

    If he was willing to learn, I'd bet I could take a semi-newbie turner who has already gotten some mileage with carbide tools.......and, in one afternoon, make him a believer in how easy it is to sharpen traditional tools, and except for a very limited application, those carbide tools would be gathering dust! :D

    As I've said before, I have no desire to teach......but, if I did, I probably wouldn't have any interest in teaching anyone but a rank newbie. I just wouldn't have the patience for "un-learning" people who are already set in their ways of doing things. I suppose this is why there are those instructors who prefer to start with "clean slate" students......;)

    It's 3:30 am here, and I got about 6 hours of sleep before rambling on with this post........I'm not going back to bed.......I'm going back out to the shop! :eek:

    later

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  9. Jeff Gilfor

    Jeff Gilfor

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Had to weigh I in this one. As a new turner, I wanted to get going with minimal cost. Decided that, rather than purchasing tools and grinder and jigs, I'd be wiser with a couple of carbide tools. I did enjoy using them and turning out some projects but, the more I read and learned, I became increasingly dissatisfied with my tool finishes.

    Well, bought an inexpensive bowl gouge and parting tool. From the
    Moment I touched them to turning wood, I was hooked! Ran out, got some more, slow speed grinder, wolverine setup, and soothed my Wife's anger over the cost.

    I would never go back to using carbide tools only. I almost never new more than a touch up sending now. Also, I feel
    Much more "connected" to the wood.

    I still use those tools for roughing out and in places where my HSS tools would get beat up (found wood with rocks or nails). They serve a purpose, but not for the beginner.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  10. Ronald Campbell

    Ronald Campbell

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Cedar Springs, MI
    Home Page:
    Carbide

    I must agree with Odie. I think that there will be a day when you must revert to standard tools to do a job. I have a small collection of EZ Wood Tools but still spend much of my time with traditional tools. I use my bowl gouges more than any tool in the box.

    For schools I can see where they could benefit from carbide as they do not get reground by the students.

    Ron
     
  11. Richard Jones

    Richard Jones

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    VA
    I use a Hunter #4 for hollowing end grain boxes and it's really a great tool for that. I'll keep using it for that until I can get a bit better at that back hollowing technique. The finish off the Hunter is excellent, much better than I get get with a scraper, so it's lots less sanding. A couple of swipes with 180/220 and it's done. You have to run it at an angle, call it 45°, give or take........Will cause great damage to your work and ego if run flat.......
     
  12. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,310
    Location:
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    it takes 15-30 minutes to teach someone to use a gouge properly.
    kids of all ages love making a long stream of shavings.

    We once had an eight year old who turned his gavel head down to the diameter of a pencil in A few minutes just having fun!
    Most schools have Wolverine systems so sharpening is somewhat consistent.

    Although students are often heavy handed in the grinding. More teachable moments.

    Al
     
  13. john lucas

    john lucas

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    5,829
    Location:
    Cookeville TN USA
    Students will destroy carbide tips very quickly unless properly monitored. If you bang them against each other or any metal you can really quickly chip the edges and make them useless. Also when they do get dull which they will eventually you have to shell out more money for the cutters. Schools are typically hard up for money.
    A good bowl gouge can be resharpened many times. Granted they do have to learn to sharpen but it's necessary skill if you going to stay in any kind of woodworking.
     
  14. Richard Avram

    Richard Avram

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    92
    Location:
    Michigan
    Odie, I read this post and I realized how fortunate I am to have found a good club. I belong to the Northwest Michigan Woodturners and just a few months after I joined I was asked to do a demo on a piece that I had bought in. I tried my best to get out of it because I knew that my turning skills were ugly but the group insisted that they would help me with the turning skills, they just wanted to see the process that I used to achieve my results. I don't know if they learned anything from it but it was one of the best lessons I ever received. Standing there with the tool in your hand making mistakes and having other skilled turners help you correct them is priceless.
     
  15. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    Hawi, Hawaii
    Home Page:
    I am getting ready to toss the saw in the truck and head up the street to a friends for a few pieces of wood. This guy has been a full time turner for maybe 20 years. He tries pretty much every tool that comes out. Why I bring him up is that he does not care. Tool marks, crappy sanding. Terrible form on a lot of pieces. Horrible inconsistent wall thicknesses. I no longer mention any of this to him. And I try not to look at his work. He is a nice guy and we do lots of wood deals together. But no tool, carbide or state of the art steel can make up for I dont care attitude. He does not feel any turner can teach him anything. He says the general public has no idea what they are looking at. When asked about how our work compares I just say he is a nice guy and we have different philosophies.
    I would say 99% of the folks here care. They want to learn and improve.
    a few full time turners were really upset with the quality this guy was doing and tried talking to him. Me too when I 1st met him. And a couple really super turners had to convince themselves to continue the quality they were doing. I chimed in at that meeting and said we all have to come up with what we can live with. Thats all they needed. You have to strive for what works for you. These other turners still produce top notch work.
    This thread has its good points about newbies and learning curves. And great points that it does not take much one on one to teach or to learn how to sharpen and use a gouge.
    I got an email from a friend. He said he uses the easy wood tools for roughing sometimes. But he said they are no way any kind of finish tool. As has been said, your finish cuts decide just what grit of gouge you start with.
     
  16. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,310
    Location:
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    Your friend is not that unusual. Every local club has a few of the folks who just don't care to do anything better.
    It used to bother me a lot.
    Now I attribute it to vision. Each of us has a vision of what we want to achieve.
    Those of us who never quite make the perfect piece seem to get better and better chasing the dreams.

    Be safe
    Al
     
  17. odie

    odie

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Messages:
    4,424
    Location:
    Deep in the woods
    Hi Richard........

    Glad you found a good club, and are getting some instruction that is helping.

    For a new turner, I realize finding a club, and getting mentoring is the accepted thinking among the woodturning community......and it's certainly not bad advice. I've asked myself if I could change my own beginnings, would I trade the route I've taken for getting one-on-one instruction? Well, for me, the answer is no. :eek:

    It all depends on one's determination, willing to fail over and over again, the ability to solve problems, avoid getting himself killed (Ha!), and investing the time. There is advantage in discovery....rather than being taught!

    You see, I'm one who strongly believes that failure makes the whole learning process succeed in ways that someone who gets answers from someone else will never realize. Sometimes this process leads to discoveries that are unique to himself, and this is a very VERY powerful thing......especially when the realization hits you that if you had gotten the instruction, you would be just one of the "herd".

    Doing things like I did isn't for everyone....that's for sure.......but, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels very empowered by a certain self-confidence and sense of accomplishment......specifically because "I did it MY way". (Who was it that made that song famous?.....was it Dean Martin?)

    One thing about it.....as was mentioned by Al Hockenbery in the previous post......Don't ever lose that inner desire of reaching out and touching perfection. (Nobody will achieve absolute perfection, but as long as you keep trying for the brass ring, you will continue to make improvements.) Too many people feel like they have "arrived", and once that kind of thinking takes over, self improvement stops, or slows down considerably........:p

    Matter of fact, just today, I made a little discovery that is an improvement. I had been using an ebony pencil to mark specific trouble spots on the top of the tool rest.......and for some reason I picked up a sharpie and made the mark. Dang, I can visualize it much better, because it's blacker! I don't look at the mark when I'm turning, because I'm focused on the tool and the "furrow".....but I can sense where it is much better. The Ebony pencil comes off with a wipe of your finger, but I had to use a 3M dish washing pad to take the sharpie mark off quick. (The 3M pad was handy, because it's good for cleaning off the residue from gouges and tool rests.) I don't know why I never thought of this before!

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  18. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,136
    Location:
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    Odie, I agree with you that doing things the wrong way is one of the most powerful ways to understand the "why" of what works and what doesn't. However, I suspect that you might be making some assumptions that give too much credit to the instructor's teaching ability and the student's retention of knowledge when a beginner is fortunate enough to have a mentor guiding them through some of the learning process. I think that more than anything else, mentoring is about exchanging bad habits for good ones.

    My perspective is that the typical newbie has already encountered his share of doing things the wrong way -- both before and even after having some guidance from a mentor. As with any part of education, only a small part of what somebody else says or demonstrates actually sticks. Personal experience is the glue that hold everything together. Just as in your self learning process where you used various sources of information as well as self analysis, I think that the situation is not much different for someone who has received some mentoring other than he now has one more resource at his disposal when trying to determine "what did I do wrong" and "what was it that instructor said". The student still has to learn by experience. But, shared experience is a very useful part of learning. If it weren't then we would have no use for these forums. And, you must admit that you share this viewpoint since you are willing to share your learning experiences with new and experienced turners on these forums.

    FWIW, my learning experience was somewhere in between the two extremes. Lots of hardheaded determination, watching some videos, reading some books, and finally some instruction after I more or less knew what I was doing, but not always doing it well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  19. odie

    odie

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Messages:
    4,424
    Location:
    Deep in the woods
    Bill.....

    You have missed the point of why I wouldn't change my experiences. It's true that I could have benefited from some positive instruction, but if I hadn't taken the course I did, I would have evolved without my exclusive efforts being the determining factor of my journey .......and, the result would be a loss of individualism.

    It's true that I undoubtedly would have made progress much faster......my only concern is that I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am right now......and, the truth is, I'm enjoying this like no other thing I've ever done in my life. If I had instruction, I would be doing things by the same methods everyone else does. My artistic desires would be the same.......but, if you take away the individualism in my methods, the end result would not be the same.

    I don't mind getting input from others on this forum, and I don't mind giving my own thoughts to others......but, there is one big factor in where I am now, as opposed to where I was as a newbie in 1982. Back then, I could have been greatly influenced by others......and now, I can be influenced, but I have some basis for processing the input. Because I'm getting this input at this stage of my journey, I have a better outlook as to how and if I can apply that information to my own rudder.

    This is MY experience, and I'm not at all suggesting others take my philosophies to heart......only that they have been exposed to the information I have to offer, and process that as they will. Personally, I feel most new turners have the desire, but not the gut fortitude to follow through with the learning process......they will be satisfied with less than they are capable of, or lose interest. Of those who do have the "follow through", most of those will probably be best served by mentoring, and the accepted methodology of the day. I believe the smallest group of all will be those like myself.......those who understand how raw individualism, uninfluenced by "group think" is that which will yield the most benefits. (....to those who understand what I mean by the term "raw individualism") I venture to guess that 99 percent of those who have any interest in turning, will NOT be best advised....or suited to my philosophies and methods.

    I have mentioned "positive instruction", and it should be obvious to most of us that not everyone who is willing to mentor, is doing the student any good......and sometimes are contributing to their progress negatively. Some of those on Youtube, who think of themselves as instructors should be stark evidence of the overwhelming availability of poor, and sometimes outright bad and dangerous information. This is not to acknowledge the good information available from mentors, and amateur videos.....but, the overall effect is to steer new turners in directions they should not, orwould rather not take, IF there was a window of experience to view/get the instruction.

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,136
    Location:
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    Odie, I wasn't knocking anything about your learning experience nor was I suggesting that it would have been better for you to have had someone mentoring you along. In my mind, I was agreeing with you about the benefits of learning through experience (I would even go so far as to say that it is the only way that we truly learn). I was just adding my perspective on what it might mean for someone else to be able to have one additional resource of something gained during a mentoring session in addition to other sources including personal trial and error experience. Whether or not it stifles one's creative development is a matter of opinion and I doubt that there is any "proof" one way or the other.

    I like the saying, "good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement".

    You just had to go and mention You Tube videos. There are some other forums where folks think that they are wonderful and best of all they are free. The problem is that there are actually some very good videos, for example those that John Lucas has done. The poor newbie often can't discern between the good and the bad and from what little I have seen, the bad far outnumbers the good.

    And, I agree that not all mentoring is good. My first class at one of the local stores catering to woodworkers and turners was definitely in the bad category, but despite that, I did learn something form tht experience -- mostly how to spot bad instruction.
     

Share This Page