"Turning Tools on the Cheap"

Discussion in 'Tutorials and Tips' started by Joe Wiener, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. Joe Wiener

    Joe Wiener

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    This is the title of an item posted by a Fine Woodworking contributor to the website's blog -Finding Center, woodturning tips tricks and techniques- on June 3, 2013. Recommending using files found at yard sale or flea markets as tool steel, the contributor writes "Transforming a file into a scraper takes only a couple of minutes. Grind away the teeth on one face, working an inch or so back from the edge." Is this foolproof? The contributor goes on to say that Beth Ireland gave him tools made out of allen wrenches. Isn't this a totally different tool steel?
     
  2. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Without at least tempering the steel, I think that a file is not safe to use "as is".
     
  3. Ian Thorn

    Ian Thorn

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    Just my point of view. Files make realy good scrapers as they sharpen well. BUT they are very brittle and can break easily if you get a catch .I think they are a very bad choice for making wood turning tools from. I had one break into 4 pieces when i was about 20 and would never use one again. If you read about the accidents that have happened with wood leaving the lathe even with a face shield on can you imagine what damage a flying piece of file would do ,think about that then make your choice I know what mine is others may have a different idea.

    Ian
    age 67
     
  4. Jeff Gilfor

    Jeff Gilfor

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    Especially as scrapers! The absolutely WORST type of tool to mak with non-hardened steel!!!!
     
  5. Patrick Miller

    Patrick Miller

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    tools

    I enjoy making some of my own tools but I am of the mind that the part that contacts the wood needs to be purposed for that task. As such I have made a number of handles and shafts but the cutting portion is either a carbide cutter, a piece of 1/8" or 3/16" HSS square tool stock or a chunk planer blade. I have reshaped any number of scrapers to fit a particular profile but tend to leave wrenches, files and screw drivers to the job they were asked to do. Just my 7 cents (adjusted for inflation) worth...........
     
  6. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I wrote an article for the American Woodturner Spring 2001 about using files for turning. I did a lot of research talking to various blacksmiths and metal workers. As mentioned above files not only break but can shatter when hit hard or dropped. They were not designed to used to turn wood where you have a rapidly spinning piece flying against it.
    It's very easy to make the files safer. Simply throw them in the oven at 350 degrees and let them sit for an hour or so. Turn off the heat and let them cool. It will reduce the hardness enough to keep them from being brittle but they will still be hard enough to hold a good edge, or burr if used for scraping.
    In the article I show you how to completely anneal them (soften) so that it's much easier to grind off the teeth and shape to the desired shape. Then I show how to harden them, and then temper them back to the usable hardness. This is all done with a standard barbecue grill and your oven. If you are an AAW member you have access to all the issues.
     
  7. Matt Lewis

    Matt Lewis

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    Joe,

    Yes, but Allen wrenches can come in handy for certain situations if you are not expecting the edge to hold forever.
     
  8. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I use allen wrenches and screwdrivers. As long as you make a nice handle for them they are very good for certain tasks. I have 2 screwdrivers ground for scrapers to true up box tenon and lids. My favorite skew is a 3/8" paddle bit reground for skew purposes. Anything with decent steel is a potential tool but you need to learn a little about metallurgy to try and get longer holding edges or the proper way to heat and bend the steel.
     
  9. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    hope I don't start a run on my local guys!

    I stumbled on some very usable steel for specialty tools awhile back at the local Home Depot. The rental area had bunches of air chisel and jack hammer used chisels in buckets they were getting rid of. Some only needed a quick resharpening to use for their intended purpose, others were just blanks in the making but this is pretty decent steel and they were getting one dollar for the small chisels and three dollars for some big ones that must weigh five pounds or more. Most turners probably don't need the big ones for anything but I have used them for splitting wood and planting trees when I had a bunch to plant.

    I think it is pretty common for rental centers to get rid of their steel like this that they can no longer send out with rental tools but anyone interested will have to just check their local rent alls. Should make decent blanks for use a little specialty tools I would think.

    Hu
     

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