Turning tool to buy?

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by John Torchick, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I still consider myself as a newbie as I have not turned near as much as many of you. I'm asking Santa for some $$$$ to buy a decent quality tool. Right now I have a HF set that is being sharpened by a member of our turning club. I was looking at the Easy Wood Tools in the Woodcraft magazine. The mid size looks about the same size as my HF tools. I don't expect to turn large bowls, etc., but keep to the smaller things. I like the idea of the replaceable tips. The roughing tool with the carbide tip look like it can be a versatile tool.
    Your opinion is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Mark Wollschlager

    Mark Wollschlager

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    Learn to sharpen your tools.
    The easy wood tools are ok, but kind of a dead end.
    You might be better off using a scraper ( very close to the easy wood tool ) for roughing, if you want to hold off learning to use a gouge or skew.
    A heavy round nose scraper will do the work of the easy tool and will continue to serve your needs into the future.
    They are very easy to sharpen, the cost difference is not great, and they can be reshaped.
    The easy tools can use different 'cutters' which seem inexpensive..I am just not sold on any savings once you buy a couple of handles.
    Learning the 'traditional tools' may seem daunting at first, but with practice and repetition will serve you well. And the basic tools cost less.
    Just my $.02.
     
  3. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Mark has good point about the dead end.

    The easywoods have a short learning curve but once you reach the learning curve in an hour or a week it never gets any better.
    A side ground gouge has a learning curve but it gets better and better and better.

    If you don't plan to turn a lot for a while and may have long down time between the turning sessions the easy wood tools will let you turn bowls or pens to a sandable surface.

    If you plan to turn a lot. I would suggest you take a good quality class or get some hands on with a skilled mentor. Then get the gouge you have learned with or the gouge on the tool list for the class you sign up for. Then practice practice practice.
    At the end of a week long class, bowls you turn with a side ground gouge will have better shapes and need less sanding than any bowl you are likely to turn with an easywood tool.

    I use the Hunter carbide some and it is great for leaving a clean surface when hollowing engrain but the side ground gouge is my tool of choice.

    I can turn any outside shape with a side ground gouge and a spindle gouge.
    And a lot of inside shapes.
    My favorite gouge is the Jamieson made by Thompson
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
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  4. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Gentlemen, I appreciate your replies and understand what you are saying. I belong to a turning club that has some mentors available. My main concern is sharpening. I can hand sharpen but that has proven to be unreliable. Budget doesn't allow a sharpening system. Any help is appreciated.
    Terminology- Side ground? Still learning.
     
  5. Barry Crowder

    Barry Crowder

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    I agree with the previous two posts. I started with the 8 piece Benjamin's Best kit from PSI, so I can relate to where you're coming from. I will echo that learning to sharpen what you have will serve you better than buying a carbide tool. It's a learning curve, but well worth the effort, IMHO. I understand that it's not reliable at first, but you will get better, and it's a skill you need. You don't have to buy expensive jigs to sharpen, if budget is an issue. (check out "The Frugal Woodturner" book for some money saving ideas).

    Having said that, the HF set is missing a proper bowl gouge and spindle gouge. The 1/4" one that it includes is too small for most work. A decent 1/2" bowl gouge and 3/8" or 1/2" spindle gouge would be useful additions.
     
  6. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Barry, thanks. Right now, the spindle gouge would be best. Not into bowls or are there other applications for the BG?
    We have a club next Tuesday and I'll talk with the club president- works at our local WC store. I'll also tell Santa. He's in Florida with the Easter Bunny, relaxing before his Christmas rounds.
     
  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I looked up The Frugal Woodturner and found where the book can be purchased. While doing this, I received a tremendous revelation in my little warped mind. I have a book by Phil Irons, The Woodturning Bible. As a minister, I couldn't resist the title! Anyway, he has ten pages devoted to sharpening. One technique is a piece of round wood on the screw chuck with PS sanding disk. I have an extra faceplate that can be used for that! Will read it and go from there!
     
  8. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    A sharpening jig for your grinder will speed up the process of sharpening your tools at the correct angles.
    This will also save on your tools since you will be addressing the grinding wheel at the correct angle each time
    and removing less steel each time you sharpen, saving a lot of time.

    Deciding what kind of items you want to turn will help in determining the tools you might want to acquire.
    You can make a lot of jigs on your lathe, however a good quality bowl chuck is a versatile tool used for many projects.
    Keep an eye on CraigsList and Ebay and you can usually get a good deal on a collection of HSS tools when they come
    up for sale. Every once in a while you will find an entire package (lathe, chucks, tools, jigs) you can pick these up at a
    good price and turn around and sell off the duplicate tools you don't need and many times pay for your acquisition.
    You can usually purchase tools on the used market for 50% of new or less.
     
  9. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    Hey John,

    I'm new to turning and learned on carbide tools. I opted for Harrison Specialties, good quality and cheaper than easy wood tools.

    I decided to make the switch to gouges because of the amount I was spending on sanding and having to order new tips plus shipping justified buying sharpening system overtime. The sharpening systems will cost about $300 for wolverine system and a grinder.
     
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  10. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    +1 on saving your money until you can get into a sharpening system and even a single bowl gouge or your choice of tools that you can sharpen. I'll emphasize that what I'm about to say is just my experience, and I turn a lot of softer woods where sharp tools are very important.

    I was talked into buying an easy wood tool with my lathe, and the finish is hard to do much more than feel like I'm salvaging the bowl from the carbide tool. Apart from specialized carbide tools like the Hunter line for finish cuts, my personal take on carbide is it's a prescription for LOTS of sanding and sandpaper.

    Honestly, I have a buddy who doesn't own a grinder, so he sharpens very old cheapo tools (not even HSS) with a file...and he's still getting a better finish than the easy wood tools.

    Again, this is just my experience...
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
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  11. Barry Crowder

    Barry Crowder

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    Starting with spindle turning is a good way to build your skills, and if you're not yet into bowls, there are plenty of nice things to turn between centers. Given that you've said you're turning smaller pieces, a 3/8" HSS spindle gouge is only $11.95 from Penn State Industries (plus shipping). It is decent enough steel for starting out. The Sorby that they sell at WC will hold an edge better (I have one and it holds an edge better than the budget HSS, but not proportionate to the cost difference.)

    For sharpening the scrapers, skews, and roughing gouges that you already have, a slow speed grinder (1725 RPM) with aluminum oxide wheels and an adjustable platform will do the trick (DIY works fine for the platform, as long as it's sturdy and can be adjusted to different angles). I got the Rikon 8" grinder on sale, and it does the job well. I also use a platform to sharpen my spindle gouges, but that requires a bit more practice.

    I know a lot of people swear by the wolverine jig, and I have no doubt that it's great, particularly for swept back gouges. It also shortens the learning curve and lets you move on to turning more quickly. I just happen to be very frugal. I am also influenced by Alan Lacer, who compares the skill of sharpening freehand to that of turning, and prefers freehand sharpening. There is a YouTube video of his titled "Mastering the Detail/Spindle Gouge" that shows his freehand approach to sharpening. He also shows sharpening with jigs, so you can compare those two approaches. I am sure that more people use a jig than sharpen freehand, so I'm definitely in the minority. One last reason for getting inexpensive tools while you're learning is that errors that you inevitable make while sharpening will make your tools shorter ;) . Better to do that with inexpensive tools.

    I know that you're getting conflicting information here, and I hope it's more helpful than confusing to have more than one perspective. Like many things in woodturning, there are many different approaches that work. (and many others that don't).
     
  12. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Most helpful. Forgot about PSI. I've been looking at Woodcraft and Craft Supplies catalogues and sorting through their offerings. I have a grinder but it is high speed at 3450 rpm. My book that I mentioned shows a lathe setup that uses a faceplate, round piece of wood @6 inches, sanding disk of 320 grit. I built a sanding platform for the lathe but found the faceplate I was using wobbled about a 1/4 inch. Scrapped it.
    Edit: Could the spindle gouge be used for turning acrylic? What do you folks recommend? Saw some pictures of acrylic pieces used for custom fishing rod grips. Looked snazzy!
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  13. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    Hi John,

    I'm not a grinding expert, but keep in mind that a 6" wheel at 3450 is only 50% faster than an 8" wheel at 1750. My shipwright and machinist buddies routinely sharpen HSS bits at around 3500 RPMs with 8" wheels. They just use light touches.

    I'm sure someone here will have more ideas on that. I've seen 6" CBN wheels, but never tried them. Since CBN seems to grind cooler, maybe you'd be in the clear?
     
  14. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Barry, I found the spindle gouge from PSI. The price is right and keeps SWMBO happy. Anything else you recommend from that "family" of tools? More than one helps amortize the shipping cost.
    Mark, I used a round nose scraper to round off a piece of wood for the lathe sharpener. Did a good job and I don't think it has even been used. Might give a try at hand sharpening. Mounted the disk to the faceplate and just need to get a couple of PSA sandingdisks. 320 is the one used in the book I mentioned earlier.
    Zach, will try the light touch. Thanks.
     
  15. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually, the high speed grinder is 100% faster than the slow speed grinder. However, you could state it another way that the slow speed grinder is 50% of the high speed grinder. Many woodturners use high speed grinders. If you balance the wheels so that the grinder runs smoothly then the high speed grinder is just fine. Take a lighter touch with the high speed grinder because it will remove metal faster.

    The high speed grinder uses a two pole motor and the slow speed grinder uses a four pole motor. Four pole motors are a bit more expensive because of the more complex winding pattern. Four pole motors also have less torque ripple, meaning that they have less vibration. If I had a choice, I would prefer the slow speed grinder, but it's not a major issue. Oneway Manufacturing promotes using a high speed grinder, but they also want to sell you their wheel balancing kit. :D A much better deal (because it's free¹) is to use Don Geiger's Bench Grinder Tune Up method to balance the wheels.

    ¹ Not quite free if you buy metal bushings and sticky labels and maybe even his diamond truing tool.
     
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  16. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    Woops, Bill...I meant surface speed of the wheel, where the tool sharpening happens. Thanks for the clarification and expanding on quality issues.
     
  17. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    John,
    I'm still regularly using some of the PSI tools I got when I first started 7 years ago. Though they are not as good in several respects as the more expensive brands, they are a lot of bang for the buck. I'd suggest a scraper or two, if you're going to turn plastic. There's an 8 piece PSI kit that has all the truly needed tools, plus a couple extra for decoration. I've also used a couple of Hurricane tools, from Amazon or Ebay or somewhere, and they are very similar to the PSI. I've become convinced that good sharpening is critical to making progress in turning, and learning to sharpen on inexpensive tools is much less painful than doing so with fancy ones.
     
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  18. Mark Hepburn

    Mark Hepburn

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    Dean, I agree with you here. I have some of the PSI spindle gouges and a skew that I use. Likewise, I also have a couple of the Hurricane tools including a large SRG that I use a pretty good bit.

    And although I have to agree that the carbide tools are somewhat limiting in that they are a "dead end" in the learning curve, they'll allow you to produce work that you can be pleased with and still remain useful. I know John Lucas hasn't weighed in yet, and that he uses Hercules carbide tools. I have a couple based on his videos and like them. But I'm not an experienced turner like you guys are either.
     
  19. Hy Tran

    Hy Tran

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    John,

    A grinder to sharpen your own tools is a worthwhile investment. The slow speed grinder (1700-ish rpm) is suggested so that a "heavy hand" doesn't overly heat up the steel and mess up the heat treatment.

    One of my mentors suggested that I ditch my Wolverine jig and learn to sharpen freehand. I paraphrase: "buy a really cheap gouge at a yard sale. Keep a tool whose shape you like nearby. Then, just sharpen the cheap gouge; compare to your tool, & repeat. You'll get the motion & muscle memory in a few hours of practice, and you're likely to use less than an inch of the cheap tool. Sharpening freehand is faster than using a jig."

    Turning acrylic, polyester, & other plastics: Spindle gouge can certainly be used, along with scrapers, and skews. Carbide tools work quite well on plastics. Run at high speed, take light cuts, sharp tools are critical. When you're at final shape, put the speed to low, and sand (wet-sand). Put a towel on the bed of your lathe to protect it from the moisture & gunk from sanding.
     
  20. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Guess what! A member of our turning club took several of my tools and sharpened them for me. Used them this morning and I have so many chips and sawdust on the floor, I'll either have to vacuum the shop or wear snowshoes. Anyway, when it put the tools in their carrying case, I discovered that one of them is a spindle gouge. The label just lists it as a gouge but it is much narrower than the roughing gouges and has a sharper angle on the grind. Now I can use Santa's money for something else.
    For sharpening, I have a motor with a rheostat that was something from a local stove factory. I'm going to sketch the wiring and see if my son or one of the EE guys can tell me how to hook it up for low speed grinding. Then, I can spend my Christmas $$$ on a grinding stone.
    Signing off as I'm going back to the shop to work on another Christmas ornament for the family. Did one so far.
     
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