Friday, October 12, 2007

Tools for a Beginner

As I was considering the roughing tool, I was also thinking of the perennial question of what tools a beginner should get, since most lathes come without tools. The following article has a few suggestions.

Wood Turning Tools: getting good ones may be beginner’s Luck

As wood turning has become more popular in recent years the manufacturers of wood working tools have developed a bewildering array of tools for the wood turner. This already bewildering array has become even more confusing for the beginner than for the experienced turner who has a few special tools that are used all the time. Beginners have yet to discover what direction their turning will take them and what tools to use on the journey.

Wood turning is split into two general fields, spindle and face plate turning. While most lathes come supplied with the rudimentary holding devices for the wood, they rarely come with cutting tools. A good, general, beginner’s set would include:

  • a 3/4" or 1" roughing gouge for making spindles round

  • a 3/4" or 1" skew for making those round spindles smooth

  • a 3/8" or 1/4" and a ½ “ spindle gouge for beads and coves

  • a 1/8" parting tool for separating work

  • a ½" to 1" round nosed scraper for some finish cuts

  • a 1" straight scraper for facing off some work

  • a 3/8" bowl gouge for face plate work

Most beginner sets on the market will have some combination of the above although they seldom have a bowl gouge included. Again, most beginners start with spindle turning and become proficient at it before attempting bowls. There is no particular reason for this and a basic bowl is no more difficult to turn than is the typical candle stick. While a 3/8" bowl gouge may cost as much as some beginner’s sets, an Oland tool suitable for the beginner and advanced turner alike is easily made in the home shop and a simple on-line search will bring up the directions for construction and use.

One of the greatest changes in wood turning tools in the last hundred years or so has been the metal used to make the tools. Unfortunately it has also become a source of confusion for inexperienced turners. There are three main groups of steel used for the tools; carbon, high speed, and powdered. The best buy for both beginners and experienced turners is M2 high speed steel, usually written as M2 HSS. Since this is also the most common type available it is easy to buy and a good deal. Carbon steel is harder to sharpen without losing its temper and powdered steel is likely overkill at a premium price.

The important thing to do is to get the tools and start making shavings. Some experience will develop a preference for certain tools in certain settings and will also develop a lot of enjoyment.

Once again feel free to post the article elsewhere as long as due credit is given.

&copy;Darrell Feltmate,<a href="">Around the Woods (</a>; used by permission

will work well in the html code or just

©Darrell Feltmate,, Around the Woods, used by permission

in straight text.


Anonymous said... doesnt load - have you changed the web address ??

Darrell Feltmate said...

I just tried with Firefox and Opera, no problem. Give it another try.


little weed said...

ludwig57I am having trouble too. just tried firefox and can't get it to load.