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Tear-out in dry cherry

Joined
Jun 30, 2021
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Powell River, BC
Just turned this small lidded box using 'scraps' of laurel (top) and cherry (bottom). Wood was very dry. I had a lot of difficulty getting a smooth surface using a 1" straight (flat?) skew. I kept getting tear-out of long fibers and eventually went to a 3/4" gouge. I'm happy enough with the end product, but I was aiming for straight lines which are much easier to achieve with a skew.
What am I doing wrong? Angle of approach did not seem to make a difference. Perhaps how I've sharpened the skew? How much does the blade angle matter with dryer wood?
lidded box.jpg
 
Joined
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Some woods will tear out with a skew. In my experience, highly figured/quilted maple will, and ash will. I believe it's the very shallow angle of the edge, lifting the fibers. A radius edged skew might be less likely to lift fibers. Switching to a spindle gouge with a fingernail grind usually works better. If this is a recurring problem for you, and doesn't seem related to specific blanks or wood types, it may be that your skew is too acute an angle. The included angle, measured by putting one side of the gauge on one bevel and the other side of the gauge on the other bevel, should be at least 30 degrees, with 40 degrees being a little safer and less likely to cause the tear out you mention. One easy way to judge is to compare the length/width of the bevel (from edge to base of the beveled steel) to the thickness of the skew. A bevel of about 1.5 times the thickness makes for a well behaved, effective skew.
 
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Well, the skew does need to be honed, leather and polishing/honing compound, to remove the burr. Even a 1000 grit stone will leave a burr. Some times it is because of squirrely grain. I have a terrible time with the skew and figured wood. Some times, on bowls anyway, if you dampen the wood slightly with water then take the lightest cuts possible, you can get rid of those difficult spots. Cherry is pretty forgiving, usually.

robo hippy
 

hockenbery

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What am I doing wrong? Angle of approach did not seem to make a difference. Perhaps how I've sharpened the skew? How much does the blade angle matter with dryer wood?

the grain Runs at a slight angle.
on the shown face the best cut on each piece would be away from the the center joint. This will be down hill with the grain.
unfortunately it will be uphill on the other side and lift fibers.

when you make a pass with the skew and see lifted fibers on one side it is usually because of grain not in line with the lathe bed.
a gouge will often cut these fibers better than a skew.

if You are seeing lifted fibers on all sides with passes in the same direction then there is an issue with the skew.
sharpness, technique, and some woods just want to cut with a gouge.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
3
Likes
2
Location
Powell River, BC
Well, the skew does need to be honed, leather and polishing/honing compound, to remove the burr. Even a 1000 grit stone will leave a burr. Some times it is because of squirrely grain. I have a terrible time with the skew and figured wood. Some times, on bowls anyway, if you dampen the wood slightly with water then take the lightest cuts possible, you can get rid of those difficult spots. Cherry is pretty forgiving, usually.

robo hippy
Thanks for the helpful tip. I've started honing and seeing a difference. Much appreciated.

the grain Runs at a slight angle.
on the shown face the best cut on each piece would be away from the the center joint. This will be down hill with the grain.
unfortunately it will be uphill on the other side and lift fibers.

when you make a pass with the skew and see lifted fibers on one side it is usually because of grain not in line with the lathe bed.
a gouge will often cut these fibers better than a skew.

if You are seeing lifted fibers on all sides with passes in the same direction then there is an issue with the skew.
sharpness, technique, and some woods just want to cut with a gouge.
Thanks for the guidance.

the grain Runs at a slight angle.
on the shown face the best cut on each piece would be away from the the center joint. This will be down hill with the grain.
unfortunately it will be uphill on the other side and lift fibers.

when you make a pass with the skew and see lifted fibers on one side it is usually because of grain not in line with the lathe bed.
a gouge will often cut these fibers better than a skew.

if You are seeing lifted fibers on all sides with passes in the same direction then there is an issue with the skew.
sharpness, technique, and some woods just want to cut with a gouge.
It's been very interesting to see how the cut evolves as I vary the angle, 'feed' rate, and pressure on the bevel. And I'm finding that not all woods from the same species behave the same - huge variation within different cherry blanks I've picked up here and there. I'll have a great success with one piece, chuck another thinking the same approach should work only to discover ... But I still love that you can turn a piece of firewood into a beautiful and sometimes useful object. It balances out the times when I turn a piece of fire wood into a smaller piece of firewood and a bunch of garden mulch.
 
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