Turning Archive

Re: humbling experience with skew

John K Jordan
...only when I tighten the grip and press really firmly down that I can control it. (Sort of.)

Eliot, I've seen various problems with some woods, but not repeated catches. Are the catches long point dig-ins or those that make a spiral down the cylinder?

When I run into something that gives me problems I make sure the gouge is pressed down firmly onto the tool rest with my left hand, but keep a light touch with the controlling hand. However, most of the time I have a light touch in both hands, often just a thumb on the shaft at the toolrest for steadying.

Another thing I do when I have trouble with any particular skew - try one with a different grind. I have a number so this is easy. For example, one with a small included angle, say 25-deg, cuts better but can be more difficult to control than one with a larger angle, say closer to 40-deg. I find that the 40-deg skews are easier for a beginner to control, also. A skew slightly rounded across the edge also behaves a bit differently.

Also, some wood just doesn't agree with the skew. I have some osage orange that chips badly when I use the type of planing cuts that work perfectly on almost every other type of wood.

When you first hear the clicking sounds, do you stop and inspect the wood?

I don't know if this would help, but I usually run spindles that size at a faster speed. Sharp, honed edge of course. Are you using a relatively small skew? A large skew with greater mass usually feels better to me on a diameter that large. (I mostly turn thin spindles.)

Do you have another skew user close by? They might take a look, try your skew and their own, help pin down the problem. I've got some students coming this afternoon, but maybe tonight I can chuck up a piece of hard maple that size and try some of my skews.


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