Turning Tool Steels

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Ed Nygard, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Ed Nygard

    Ed Nygard

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    Among the PM steel formulations there are theoretical advantages to the nature and percentages of various added elements and treatments. I’m wondering what turners with experience have found (or not) to be any practical, real-world differences between CPM10V (A-11) [Thompson], M42 [D-Way], CPM M4 [Oneway], Pro-PM [Crown], ignoring for now differences in the grinds supplied.
     
  2. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The characteristics of the various exotic powdered high speed steel formulations are dependent upon the heat treatment process, but the characteristics aren't theoretical ... they are derived from real world measurements. The real question is what, if anything, do these characteristics mean to woodturners. I haven't seen any remarkable difference between the various exotic powdered metal high speed steels when it comes to woodturning. Manufacturing quality is more important to me. I prefer a well made tool, for example a bowl gouge with a polished flute as opposed to one with ridges left by the milling machine. But, the bottom line is if you like the tools that you have then there is no reason to angst over subtle nuances that don't amount to a hill of beans.
     
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  3. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Harbor Freight tools do a fine job for me. I do need to spend a few shekels and get a good bowl gouge. Need to tell Santa about that.
     
  4. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    I started with an old craftsman set in the 1960's.. The metal was blued steel. Maybe Carbon steel. The old skew is still my favorite tool of everything i have. Easy to sharpen and shaves the wood great. I still use the old spindle gouge , but likewise that is easy to sharpen on an electric wet stone I have. I have some early stainless steel tools and they are next to impossible to sharpen. I also have some new made tools of modern HSS. (an eclectic bunch of tools some very old and given to me. )
     
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  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I just turned a pair of 14” natural edge crotch bowls from green laurel Oak.
    I used a Thompson, Crown, and 3 Henry taylor m2 gouges sharpened to start.
    All with Ellsworth grinds.

    Each tool lasted about the same amount of time and I had to sharpen a gouge at least twice for each bowl.
    He limiting factor here was bevel drag from resin on he bevel not losing the edge.
     
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  6. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    I have all sorts of gouges of different makes and steel, and by far my favorite now is M42 from D-Way. It sharpens considerably faster than all the fancier PM, 10V, etc and keeps an edge just as well. An M42 edge seems to last considerably longer than standard M2 HSS.

    As I've said a few times here before, I'm also a fan of a smooth polished flute for their ability to cut cleaner on finish cuts, which also disqualifies some of the fanciest steels.
     
  7. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Well, I haven't turned with anything other than the V10 from Doug, and the M42 from Dave Schweitzer/D Way for years. I got a couple of 'name' brand parabolic flutes and couldn't figure out why they wouldn't cut very long... They were M2... I can't tell any difference between the V10 and the M42 as far as edge durability and over all sharpness goes. I have a friend who turned myrtle wood trays for 25 or so years, about 700 to 800 per year. He couldn't tell any difference either. The 'holds an edge 5 times longer' means that you can hog off a lot more wood before the edge is blunt enough that you need to go back to the grinder, but I always use a fresh edge for finish cuts. I have one old Oneway M4, and it is better than the M2, but not near as good as the others. For production work, they pay for them selves the first full day you use them...

    robo hippy
     
  8. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I want to know how you could still be using a 50 year old skew? I've been turning 8 years and I'm on my third skew and second spindle gouges. What's your secret?
     
  9. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't know about Perry, but my 13 year old skew is almost as long as a new one because I sharpen on a Tormek and not a bench grinder. Also, the skew is one of my less used tools.
     
  10. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    My 16 year old skew is maybe an inch shorter. My 18 year old skew has only been used a few times on mini lathes for the past 16 years. The 20 year old skew I gave to someone to use on a mini lathe.

    I pretty much stopped making ornaments and other spindle projects early this century. Mostly concentrating on hollow forms, spheres, occasional bowls and platters and had no need of the skew.

    I still do an ornament once in a while so I keep the skew.
    I also sharpen the current skew on the tormek. The older ones I did not have the tormek. Until the end. The strop wheel does a nice job touching up the edge.
     
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  11. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Skew is a 4 letter word...... I use them mostly for a NRS (negative rake scraper). I still try to use them some times, but don't turn many spindles...

    robo hippy
     
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  12. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I strop my skews to keep the edge good. If it gets beyond that I use diamond hones. ONce in a blue moon I have actually go back to the grinder so my skews last a long time and I use them a lot. I have an oval skew that was my first skew. It is still quite long. My Thompson skew was made when Doug first started selling tools so it's at least that old and still looks full length. I should say that I have a very light touch on the grinder so all of my tools last quite a while even though I sharpen constantly
     
  13. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    I used my dad's lathe until I graduated from college. After that I did not turning until two years ago. When i started, I was still sharpening the way I did 40 years earlier. By hand with a wet stone. The skew might be a 1/4 inch shorter than when new. On some woods it is amazing at shaving long arcs of wood from the piece. I have been turning mostly road kill wood. Oak, ash, elm, stuff that the saw mill has cut off when they make skid components. After I made about 40 objects from Oak, I found out how terrible it is supposed to be as a turning wood. Of course when I switched to soft red maple from my own woods, the skew cut like a hot knife through butter. I have an electric wet stone about 400 grit that I use to sharpen my tools. It only takes a few short seconds to freshen the edge on the skew. I doubt it I take off more than a thousandth or 2. Can say that for my poor excuse of a fingernail grind.

    The skew is probably the least understood tool for turners. I have watched several German turning videos and what those guys can do with just a skew is really amazing. In one of my favorite videos, the guy is using a skew that has got to be three inches wide.. I am still getting the knack of using the tool, but I like it better than the others. .
     
  14. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I think the skew is unused here because most people don't turn spindles.
     
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  15. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I got handed a skew by the guy who started me turning, before I knew I was supposed to be afraid, and became adept at it. Can't say the same thing for sharpening, so some of the lost steel went to slow learning and part of it went to using the skew a lot. I like making boxes on which I use the skew, plus I use it as a NRS and for making tenons and sometimes for peeling off waste wood, etc. I've also worn out a couple steel plate type diamond hones.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  16. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Nick Cook told me he likes to start teaching with the skew because it's easy for people to understand where the bevel is and how to use it. It's much more complicated trying to understand the bevel on a bowl gouge.
     
  17. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    Hmmm, I have never heard Dave (Schweitzer) refer to his tool steel as being powdered metal. From his website "
    D-Way wood turning tools are machined from premium M-42 cobalt high speed steel. M-42.... " I have sharpened mine with both CBN and stone wheels, and not noticed as big a difference between the two as there would be with PM..
     
  18. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    You're right about M42 not being a powdered metal steel.

    BTW, I've noticed some posts in various threads that seem to imply that powdered metal steels aren't high speed steels. They are one type of high speed steel. The advantage of using powdered ingredients is the ability to obtain a much more uniform distribution of the various additives rather than the larger carbide, manganese, chromium, etc "clumps" in non-PM steel (please forgive my lay explanation).

    M42 has been around for a long time, but it can't be beat for many types of machining operations and has extremely high wear resistance and edge holding ability.
     
  19. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    We're probably near the point of examining frog hair when comes to discerning the infinitesimal differences in performance of one exotic steel versus another. I can just barely notice a difference between M2, M4, A11, M42, and some that I'm not sure what they might be.
     
  20. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Well I didn't get the chance to put m42 in my test of steels. Bill is right, about examining frog hair. In preparation for my article that is going in More Woodturning possibly December issue, I sharpened and honed High Carbon steel, High speed Steel and V11 particle metal steel. For all practical purposes all took the same keen edge. I sharpened far beyond what we do for turning tools and better than most of my carving tools. I could not tell the difference in how they cut. When photographed at 5000X magnification you could barely see any difference. The HSS appeared to be sharper but when I ran tests on a BESS sharpening tester the HSS actually tested duller than HCS or PM steel. But just barely. Only 10 grams of cutting force different and if you compare that the difference between a single edge razor blade and double edge razor blade was 40 grams then 10 grams is nothing. I suspect that m42 won't sharpen any better or any worse but then I didn't get to test it.
    There was no way I could test the steels for edge holding. That's just too complicated. That and I had to cut the tools down to 2" to fit in the scanning electron microscope which pretty much eliminated me playing with them on edge holding.
     
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