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Tool sizes?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Michael Ascenzi, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. Michael Ascenzi

    Michael Ascenzi

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    Hello, this will be my first post, besides the introduction. Hello all

    So I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on a new Lathe. I've decided on a Laguna Revo 1216. Fits the space I have perfectly, with room for bed extensions and turning off the side for larger platters. I plan on starting off with smaller projects such as pens, bottle stoppers, rings, and other smaller trinket like projects. However, my real interest really is pots, bowls with lids, shop mallots, and live edge bowls.

    I've decided that I'm going to go with carbide tools first. I have every intention of purchasing gouges and traditional tool steal tools down the road, but I want to start off with a carbide set first. I don't have the upfront cost of a grinder and sharpening system. I can use my diamond plates to resharpen the carbide blades to gain a little more life out of them when needed.

    So here is my question. Does it really make sense to buy the mini size tools vs the full size tools? I'm sure that I could use the full size for all projects, but what are the advantages of having mini, mid, and full size lathe tools? Does anyone have all three and use them regular for your projects? Does anyone only use mid or full size and would never consider having multiple sizes?

    I know some will say ever job has the right tool. So I would assume there's a reason there are mini/pen sized turning tools. You know, besides profit. But Can I get away with a single size for small and reasonably larger projects. I understand the principle of the longer handle giving me more control of the tool and the ability to lock it into my hip for support.

    I've also been looking at "Simple Woodturning Tools" for the turning tools brand. The Rockler mini set has a good sale price right now, but their full size set is on average price with other brands like woodpecker, simple woodturning, carters, etc. I have woodpecker rules, squares, and other tools that I love.
     
  2. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    There will be those who turn bowls, platters, etc., who can steer you in the right direction. Full size, IMHO, would be the way to go. FWIW, I got the Harbor Freight set with the red handles. Does fine for me but only until recently have I used other tools. I mostly used the roughing gouge and parting tool.
     
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  3. Arkriver

    Arkriver

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    From my limited experience I would stay away from the Rockler set. My bother in law has turned a lot of pens but wanted to learn bowls and bought that set and asked me to teach him to turn bowls. He could not make them work nor could I. In about 10 mins I had him using gouges. I do have a couple of the medium size EZ tools and they work well for the few things I use them for, ie, boxes and bangles. Carbides are basically scrapers and held level on the tool rest so you won't be tucking them to your hip. Allyn
     
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  4. Michael Ascenzi

    Michael Ascenzi

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    Yea from the little experience and research I've done, there are different techniques involved with turning traditional tools vs the carbide inserts. I've haven't read it yet, your the first to mention it, but it did seem like the carbide was more of a scrapper.

    I think in the long run traditional is the way to go. Specially for stock removal. it seems carbide would be slower. I've seen both used online and it does seem that carbide would take longer.

    Should I skip the mini/pen size and go straight for the Mid/full?
     
  5. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    It seems that mostly you can turn small things with big tools, but unless you're very patient turning big things with very small tools is frustrating. Obviously a gouge needs to be small enough to fit into a hollow you're cutting, but other tools like skews can be arbitrarily large without difficulty (Alan Lacer demonstrates making a ~1/4" top with a 3" skew to make this point). Unless you're doing tiny turnings (ie much smaller than things the size of a pen) "regular" size tools should be fine. Tiny tools can be frustrating to sharpen as well.
     
  6. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    I predominantly use carbide scrapers. At this point I think I have 20 different carbide tools (as well as an assortment of traditional HSS tools).

    My answer to your question is to start with full size tools rather than midi or mini tools. In part this is because, as was already said, you can turn small with big, but not so easily big with small. But also because the smaller diameter round carbide scrapers are more difficult to control.

    I would also suggest skipping the Woodpecker tools. These have been designed to allow the cutter to be oriented at 45* to the wood surface and thus take a shearing cut. While I think these tools will work for spindles, I don't see how the tools can be propperly positioned to shear for bowl work, and as scrapers the shaft design is compromised.

    My next suggestion is that you skip handled tools all together. Much as I like my Carter Axe tools it makes more sense to go handless as the tools can be used hand held as well as mounted in a hollowing rig. So handless is more versatile. They are easier to transport, too.

    Easy Wood and Harrison Specialties (Simple Hollowing System) both make handless tools. I have both sets and they're both great. Although I have and truly love the Harrison Simple Hollowing rig I would suggest the Easy Wood tools. Although the Easy Wood shafts are an inch shorter (8 1/2) Easy Wood makes optional negative rake inserts (which if you use carbide scrapers you will eventually want to employ). Easy Wood's round insert (and Carter's) is 16mm, while Harrison's cutter is 15mm, so they can't be swaped.

    If you decide to go with the Easy Woods the handless tools are a special order direct from the company.

    The one exception to handless tools I'd suggest is the parting tool (if you need one). There's just not that many occaisions where you'd mount that on a rig. I like the Easy Wood.

    In addition to a parting tool a recommend a diamond detailer, a round and a radius square (I prefer the 4" to the 2").

    Edit:
    I would also suggest at least one spare cutter for each tool. That way you won't be stalled if honing the cutter doesn't work out for you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2020
  7. Michael Ascenzi

    Michael Ascenzi

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    Mark,

    Hello, thanks for the insight.

    Handless: Yea I like the idea of going with handless tools. For several reasons. I did see that they make hollowing tools. However i was mainly thinking that I would be able to make my own handles. I like the idea of getting the bars, a single handle to get started and then make my own out of the material and shape I like. Over time I can reshape and refine to a handle I'm very happy with. I have access to a metal lathe, and know how to use it, so I can make an insert for wood handles for the cutter bars and use set screws to hold them in place.

    I' confused about your Woodpecker point. I was under the understanding that the woodpecker offers both a 90* positive rest as well as 45* positive rests. So you get both the scraper and shear cutting action. Carter did something similar and instead of only a positive 90* & 45* rest they did a 90* and then a round over, so you don't have to settle for just 45*, it can be fine tuned to your liking. Am am I wrong on that. Did I miss understand?

    great suggestion on the spares, just in case honing fails

     
  8. Timothy White

    Timothy White

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    Another option: Buy traditional tools spindle rougher spindle gouge and a couple of scrapers. Join a local club get a mentor learn to sharpen on their grinders. Buy an Alan Lacer teardrop diamond hone https://stores.alanswoodturningstore.com/diamond-slipstone-hone-back-in-stock/ you can turn then hone and only have to go to your mentors grinder once a month or so. This way you can learn to sharpen without having to buy a grinder and wheels until you have had an opportunity to learn what type of grinder and fixtures you want.
     
  9. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    @Michael Ascenzi, by all means make your own handles. If, as you say, you can make the handles removable I think that's better.

    As I have explored traditional HSS gouges I have also discovered the further benefits of going handless: it is much easier to sharpen a tool with the handle removed, and Oneway sells a line of double ended tools that allow me to put on two different grinds with one investment.

    If you're looking ahead to purchasing some HSS tools then I suggest that the one manufactured handle you buy should have a deep inside channel so that it can accommodate a double ended tool. This feature might be difficult to engineer in a homemade handle, but maybe it's possible.

    I prefer the Trent Bosch handles as they have a deep channel and are light (although you can add weight). If you'd like to try and get by with just one manufactured handle, Oneway and Housalek (Craft Supply) both have double ended handles with 1/2" & 5/8" receivers. That and a 3/8" adapter and you'd have all the bases covered.

    As to my comments about Woodpecker Tools. Your observations and research are correct. The bottom surface of their tool shaft has a 90* and two 45* facets so the tool can be positioned to take a shear cut, but the 90* facet is a smaller flat surface on the tool rest when scrapping. I believe that shearing with this tool is only going to work for spindle turning--I don't see being able to position the tool to do the inside of a bowl. I rarely turn any spindles so my recommendation against may be somewhat biased.

    The Carter tools have also been designed to allow you to roll, but they still have a substantial flat.

    If you would like to use a carbide tool to perform a shear cut then you may want to also look into "cup" shaped cutters such as those from Hunter. These are an entirely different animal than the scrapers we have been discussing. In fact the two types of cutter don't have much more in common other than both being composed of carbide.

    The cupped or Hunter style cutters are intended for shear cutting and can give a much smoother finish than scrapers. These cutters are round and typically smaller than scrappers. Where the top surface of a scrapper will be flat from the screw to the cutting edge these have a raised cutting edge which is directed "up". They are positioned obliquely to the wood instead of flat and horizontal as with scrapers.

    The cupped cutters take more skill to use and have more bad habits than scrappers. It's not where I would suggest begining.
     
  10. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    When you get to traditional tools, with a 12 inch lathe, I would suggest at least one 1/2 inch gouge, preferably with a parabolic flute or one of the Thompson or D way V type flutes which are rather open rather than a tight V. They will work nicely for bowls on a 12 inch lathe and also nicely on a bigger lathe. You will want a spindle roughing gouge, 1 inch is plenty again for both a mini lathe and a bigger lathe. You will need a 1 inch skew, and skew to me as a bowl turner is a four letter word.... A parting tool has been suggested. You will want a detail type spindle gouge, and I find them easier to do details with, like beads and coves. If you already have carbide scrapers, you can use them instead of the more traditional scrapers. You will need at least one NRS (negative rake scraper). They work best on end grain like boxes. You will need a grinder and grinding wheels. If you connect with a club, chances are that you can pick one up more cheaply than buying new. There is no end to the vortex of tools you can find a 'need' for... I have a bunch of mostly bowl turning videos up on You Tube. I don't use the carbide tools, but if I did, I would get the ones from Mike Hunter. Clubs also have mentors and demonstrations. Huge learning experience for me when I first started.

    robo hippy
     
  11. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Michael, if you have the ability to do metal work, have you considered making your own carbide tip holders?

    And please, could you and Mark type a couple of more letters in the word Hand-le-less? It sends shivers up my spine when you guys write Hand-less.
    maxresdefault.jpg
     
  12. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Oops. Thanks, I'm usually more careful with my spelling.
     
  13. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Dean brings up a good thought. Making your own tools puts you in a lot of control (and you know customer service will always pick up on the first ring). For example you can decide on tool length and the shape of the "chin" under the cutter. For example the chin on the Easy Woods is more recessed, while the Harrison is more "Jay Leno".

    AZ Carbide in Michigan has a great assortment of everything save the Easy Wood negative rake, and their prices are great. It's where I go for replacements.
     
  14. Michael Ascenzi

    Michael Ascenzi

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    @Dean Center
    @Mark Jundanian started it! haha

    I Absolutely am 100% on board with making my own bars. HOWEVER, I don't have access to either the metal lathe or mill right now. And probably won't have access for at least another month. I'm in MA and we won't be coming out of the stay at home guidelines here for awhile. And when we do, my company will still be running with a only come in if you can't do something from home mentality for a while longer. So I won't have access to our machine shop for some time. So I figured to grab some off the shelf set, with the basic tools I need. Then I can always turn/mill my own bars.

    @Timothy White
    I have every intention of meeting up with a local club and working with others. However, the current atmosphere doesn't exactly lend itself to access to those avenues right now. And who knows when the clubs will start meeting again. One of the clubs I'm a member of, different hobby, has cancelled all in person meetings for the remainder of the year. They are shifting everything online, so personal interactions are limited. The carbide seems the best coarse of action for me right now.

    All around I think I'm leaning towards the Harrison tools to get me started, but will most likely mill some new bars after I start using the tools and figure out what I like and don't like about them.
     
  15. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I believe that the proper word (as far as woodturners are concerned) is "unhandled".
     

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