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Is it worth that much money?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by John Hicks, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. John Hicks

    John Hicks

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    I was wondering if the high prices for turning tools, such as Thompson, carter and sons...etc, worth the high price? I have been using crown cryo and pro pm gouges at a much lower price, and I'm not sure I see much of a difference (I have one Thompson). They have to be sharpened at the same intervals, and I believe the pro pm gouge actually gets a sharper more durable edge (sharpened on a tormek with a 600 diamond wheel). I of course like to buy American, but my pocketbook is usually full of cobwebs.
     
  2. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    I bought a Thompson parting tool and Carter & Son rough gouge both which are made much heavier than my Robert Sorby’s. My old parting tool broke off at the handle, don’t think the Thompson will ever break. The Carter and Son roughing gouge (Just wanted a bigger one) has 3/4” round shaft which I’m sure will never break either. I think they are well worth the money.
     
  3. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I have worn out a couple of Thompson and D Way gouges. I can't really compare to the Crown or Pro PM gouges as I have not used them. I have tried some older versions of the 'stays sharp 5 times longer' gouges, which I found would stay sharp far longer than the standard M2. The Thompson and D Way stay sharp considerably longer than they do.

    I am not a fan of the 600 grit wheels (don't know if there is any actual difference between CBN or diamond) for anything other than fine finish cuts. From my experience, the 600 grit edges do not hold up well to heavy roughing cuts. The 180 grit edge holds up better.

    robo hippy
     
  4. Arkriver

    Arkriver

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    Unless you are on an ego trip, I say buy what works for you. I kinda cringe when I hear someone say I got rid of all my old tools and now only use brand XYZ. Over time you find out what tools you use a lot and those you seldom use. So, for me spend money for the stuff you use a lot. Case in point..... I started with a Penn State roughing gouge and still use it. It does what I need so why buy a better one.
     
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  5. GRJensen

    GRJensen

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    I don't think Thompson tools are expensive, but I have heard others express the opinion that they are high priced. In either case, I have never heard anyone say they aren't worth it.
     
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  6. Paul Grenier

    Paul Grenier

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    I'm gonna make Arkriver cringe because over time, I've replaced all of my turning tools with Thompson's and I've never regretted it. I really like how sharp I can get them on a 350grit CBN wheel and how well they hold an edge. Edge holding is dependent on what type of wood you are turning. I don't consider them expensive, but I understand if someone feels that they are. The only tool that I've not replaced with a Thompson, is my roughing gouge. 1st, because it's only used occasionally and 2nd, Doug's roughing gouge at $255 is too pricey for me for such an infrequently used tool.
     
  7. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    Been using D-Way (mostly) and Thompson tools for many years now. Wound up replacing the Sorbey, BB and Crown tools I started with long ago. I know my sharpening technique has gotten better over the years, and adding cbn wheels nearly 8 years ago has reduced both the time at the wheel and how much steel is removed but the newer high performance tool steels do hold an edge much longer. The end result is that I find my tools just plain last longer. They may cost more, but it's a better value in the long run.
    I was fortunate enough to join one of the clubs that Dave Schweitzer - Mr D-Way - participated in as a mentor. He was always involved in teaching both turning and sharpening to anyone who wanted to learn.
     
  8. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Thompson tools are worth every penny. I bought gouges from Johannes Michelsen that are made by Thompson. For both the handles and the steel. I felt a difference right away compared to the Oneway gouges I was using.
     
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  9. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I have a whole lot of tools. Many given to me. Most I don’t use and I give some to students who need a tool I have more than I do.

    I do have a favorite gouge. It is the Jamieson bowl gouge made by Thompson. I highly recommend this tool to anyone doing advanced work using the Ellsworth grind. It is the flute design. Just a tiny but wider than the Henry Taylor.
    It only worth it if you do advanced cuts.
    I now have 2 of them.

    if you are just doing push cuts the Henry Taylor will do them just as well as the Jamieson.

    I also replaced a 1/4 glasser bowl gouge with a thompson I has the Michelson grind. I really liked that glasser tool but like the Thompson more.
    This one is worth it too.
     
    JeffSmith likes this.
  10. Dave Landers

    Dave Landers

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    Up to now, I thought I might make it thru the summer without buying a new tool....
     
  11. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2020
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  12. Bob Brown

    Bob Brown

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  13. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    Well I used to have a lot of other tools. Not long after i got my Thompson i started changing to.them. they do hold an edge longer than others I use. One time I had to turn a bunch of aluminum. It would.dull.the other HSS tools in one pass. The Thompson tool would cut enough passes.to.finish the piece. I have since had the same thing happen with some woods that had very high silica that dulled tools.rapidly. when turning woods that cut easily it is much harder to tell because I sharpen a lot. I would say more than needed but any dull.is not as sharp.after just a few.minutes.
     
  14. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    Over time I've replaced many of my tools with versions from D-Way and Thompson. I don't know that the steel is all that much better than that from any of the English makers (well the M42 probably is), but what is different is the heft of the tools and the quality of the machining. Thicker cross sections on average and thick round stock in place of tangs make for less vibration as well as ability to use interchangeable handles. The DWay skew I bought a while back is machined perfectly, it's thicker than the Sorby it replaced but the short point edge is perfectly rounded for rolling beads and the long point edge has nicely rounded corners but also a flat right where you need it. Sure you can do that with a tool that comes with square corners that make divots in you tool rest, but why bother? I'd rather spend my time turning than remanufacturing tools.

    Also in the fixable but why bother category are the terrible handles that most of the English tools come with, mostly too short, sized so that sets look good in the box rather than what you actually use them for. I much prefer being able to buy unhandled tools that I can make a handle for that fits me. I know it's silly, but I have a really hard time throwing away a handle I bought and paid for so I use suboptimal handles far too long.
     
  15. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Was it you John that did an article about sharpening different steels, with close up photos? If ot was you, maybe you can give us a condensed reply about your findings and maybe a link to the article. ANy youtube videos about the topic?
     
  16. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    My very first demo was "how to make a bowl using just one tool" Beginners would take a look at my tool racks, (a few of them), and they would be put off thinking that you needed to have as many tools to be a woodturner. Buy a cheap Chinese $2 bowl gouge to practice sharpening. A good tool is worth every penny. I can see a hobbyist turner been a bit apprehensive about spending money on good tools. I do believe that they make a difference. A beginner will have a hard time seeing the difference between a good tool or a junk tool, a dull tool, or a sharp tool. Makes me happy when a student tells me my tool is dull, I need to sharpen, that is progress. So, yes, if you can't tell the difference between a BB made in Cina and a freshly sharpened Doug Thompson bowl gouge, then there is no need in upgrading the rest of the tool rack.
     
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  17. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    I’ve been using one of the Jamieson gouges for about a year now - great tool.
     
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  18. Bill Blasic

    Bill Blasic

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    I don't know where you are buying your Crown tools but they are more expensive than Thompson tools in my catalogs. Almost all of my tools are Thompsons and have been so since Doug started making them. No better tool or tool maker in the market place.
     
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  19. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I did write an article.on how sharp different tools steels.get. it was in More Woodturning. Some one said particle metal would. Ot get as sharp as other steels and high carbon steel would get sharper. My reults.proved that particle metal, HSS, and high carbon steel all reached the same degree of sharpness. Unfortunately and edge holding test proved to require far more tests than I could do. I did not have any M42 steel.to test but I bet that it gets just as sharp as the other steels.
     
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  20. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    I agree with Bill. There isn’t a major difference in price if any. It’s not like we have to buy a replacement every 3-4 months.
     
  21. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    One of the best things I did was to consider my gouges consumables like sand paper. I used to.worry about excessive sharpening and grinding away my gouge. After I considered it a consumable I sharpened all that I needed to. Thus did 2 things. A sharp tool of course is more fun to use. Sharpening more.often taught me to sharpen better and remove less steel. My gouges last many many years. So if you divide the cost.of a gouge by 36 months or more they are really pretty inexpensive. I have a parting tool.and a spindle roughing gouge that are 20 years old and get used a lot. So it's worth spending the time to improve your sharpening.
     
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  22. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    As Vice-President of the Cheapskate Turner's Guild, I am confident that the Thompson gouges are not more expensive than the Crown PM, unless you're buying a handle for every Thompson gouge. (Ex: 1/2" bar bowl gouge, T=$70, PM=$81) Perhaps you are talking about the standard Crown tools (brown handle) which are not PM's (black handle). Thompson's other tools are priced relative to the cost of the steel, and flat stock in V10 is apparently quite a bit more expensive than round stock. So Doug's skews and scrapers, and presumably the spindle roughing gouge, are higher priced than some other brands.

    As a user of both Thompson and Crown PM gouges, I have to say, when I want to make a really clean, smooth, controlled cut, I grab the Crown. I'm probably not a very discriminating judge, but it seems to me that I resharpen the Thompson and the Crown PM at about the same frequency.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  23. Charles Cadenhead

    Charles Cadenhead

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    Crown tools on Amazon are 50 to 100 bucks. Thomspons are in that range but without handles.
     
  24. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker

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    Also made by Thompson. As are tools from Jamieson, Michelson, and several others. And - all are good tools, based on the steel that Doug uses. It was told to me that Doug Thompson's steel formula is based on Jerry Glaser's - but with some tweaks. One thing I do like about the Robust tool....it is ground flat further back beyond the flute - allowing you to use the tool longer, and get the best bang for your money. I would add that I also have tools by Crown ( PM series) , Carter and Sons and D-Way. All are excellent quality, and while there are differences in the steel....they all serve me well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  25. Bill Blasic

    Bill Blasic

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    A piece of wood for a handle is worth about a dime. I prefer unhandled tools as it makes sharpening so much more easy.
     
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  26. Dean

    Dean

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    I use many hamlet M2 tools and for the tools that get used momentarily during a project. Cheaper and good solid M2. Tools I use often such as a skew and a bowl gouges I have been using M4 and I like them as they hone very well. I use oneway gouges and I think they are just fine. I can sharpen them and just touch them with a slip stone periodically. I do not feel that dougs tools hone real good but I own a couple and they hold a better edge that the M2 by far. Then I wanted a 3/4 bowl gouge for processing green rough turned bowls.This is a tool that gets used start to finish I decide to try Carter and sons mahoney tool as it has a parabolic flute. I wanted a tool that would last and this tool delivered without question, it also hones nicely. I ordered it unsharpened and shaped it the way I wanted. So the question was ; are the more expensive tools worth the money? I believe so only in situations that warrant the tools use for longer sessions. That being said, I would not sell off tools to replace then with the high end tools, Just use them up then make the decision when your gouge is to short to be functional.
     
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  27. Charles Cadenhead

    Charles Cadenhead

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    I hear you, and agree. The crown tools come with handles which is why I included handles in my price comparison.
     
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  28. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    With tool buys, there are two things to consider. One is $ cost, and the other is value. You can buy M2 HSS for less than you would pay for the V10 or M42 HSS. However, the more expensive tools will last longer because you don't sharpen them as often, so you get better value with them, or should I say, more bang for your buck...

    robo hippy
     
  29. John Hicks

    John Hicks

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    Living on a VA disability makes ebay look like a good alternative. There are many used high end gouges and so forth at half the price of a new one. I have to be careful because I am a tool addict from the old days; and will buy things that I use once or twice and they gather dust; that itself is a huge waste of money........I have been looking at a Thompson 5/8 bowl gouge; because rick turns seems to be permanently attached to his.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  30. Dave Hulett

    Dave Hulett

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    I have long been a proponent of Hurricane turning tools. My go to gouge for my first 5 years of turning was a Hurricane 1/2" gouge with a David Ellsworth grind. I actually bought a second one after I had ground my first down to almost nothing, but at less than $40 a bargain. A few years ago a member sold me his new Crown PM- David Ellsworth gouge ($135) for a good price and I discovered that that it functions and holds an edge identically to the $40 Hurricane. they are both made out of HSS. My opinion is that if you are a professional turning all day every day and particularly if you are a production turner, of course the longer they hold an edge the better and worth the money. But for many of us turning for for fun and hobby, paying more for fancy steel isn't worth it.
     
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  31. Brent@TurnRobust

    Brent@TurnRobust

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    Tim, your reply to Ron Brown about "Robust" indicates that you think Robust Tool's "Turner's Edge" brand gouges are made by Doug Thompson. Nothing could be further from the truth. Doug does make great tools, but for the record, we make our own great tools, right here in Barneveld, Wisconsin. Kind regards, Brent English, President, Robust Tools.
     
  32. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    The one guy I know who comes closest to being a full time turner swears by Thompson tools. He says they stay sharp two to three times longer than most other tools. This is a guy that can turn a small green bowl in a few minutes. A large bowl in 20 to 30.minutes.
     
  33. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker

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    Forgive my mistake Brent - I truly thought yours were made by Doug. I am comforted in knowing it will not be my last mistake.:D
     
  34. Brent@TurnRobust

    Brent@TurnRobust

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    No worries Tim, just wanted to set the record straight. I have much respect for Doug, the tools he makes, and the great things he has done for the turning community. Happy turning, Brent
     
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  35. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Brent, since you're following this thread. Could you comment on the nitride process, as discussed earlier? Thanks.
     
  36. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    FWIW, I visited the Hillerich & Bradsbury plant and museum last year. There was a fellow was was turning a baseball bat the old fashioned way. I asked what tools he used- Sorby but had a Carter on the bench he wanted to try. Note the sample bat with marks. He used calipers every couple of minutes to check the dimensions. IMG_4278.JPG
    BTW, if you are ever even close to Louisville, KY, I highly recommend the factory tour and the museum. I had my picture taken with Mickey Mantle's bat and Ronald Acuna, Jr's bat.
     
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  37. Brent@TurnRobust

    Brent@TurnRobust

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    Hi Dean, I would prefer you visit our website and check the info there. My post was just setting the record straight on a misconception. Other than that, I try not to comment. Just FYI, I do check the forum several times a week. Lots of good info here and it's helpful to know what you guys are up to.

    Kind regards, Brent
     
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  38. Brandon Sloan

    Brandon Sloan

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    Just my 2 cents. I upgraded my first tool after turning for a year. I Started with a Steelex 6 piece set for $88. I still have the set and use it regularly. Before I upgraded my tools, I upgraded my sharpening set up. CBN wheels and a wolverine jig. I found myself using the 1/2” bowl gouge the most, so that was my first tool to upgrade. I went with Carter and Sons because of the m42 steel and the solid aluminum handles. The experience was very positive. Over the next year I bought four more of their tools. When I’m holding the tool, it feels like a solidly made expensive tool. I also own a 3/8” bowl gouge by Thompson and two Thompson handles. I use my 1/2” Carter and Sons spindle gouge in one of the handles. The Thompson tools and handles are great, but I prefer the Carter and Sons.

    That being said, I could turn a bowl of the same quality using cheap tools. Wood turning for me is an experience, and the nicer tools definitely enhance that experience.
     
  39. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Still using my HF tools. Modified the round nose scraper for deepening end grain turnings.
     
  40. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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