Turning Archive 2008

In Defense of Arm Brace Tools....

Wally Dickerman in Arizona
>The only really safe hollowing tools are captive tools, such as the Jamieson and others. That's because they are not hand held.

The arm brace tool was designed to give better control to the turner when a catch occurs, than can be had with the more convenional straight handled tools. Most big catches happen when control of the tool is lost when a small catch occurs.

Ellis's post yeaterday told us how he lost control of his tool, resulting in an injury. I strongly feel that had he been using an arm brace tool, he'd have been better able to keep the tool under control.

I've heard stories of serious injuries that have occured when using an arm brace tool. Can anybody really verify one?

I have been using a Dennis Stewart arm brace tool since 1987 and have turned many hundreds of hollow vessels with it. Along the way I've had serious catches,(doesn't everybody?) especially when using the tool in deep vessels. I can recall having a big one at least a couple of times, resulting in a broken bowl and a sore arm for a couple of days. In every case, it was result a of carelessly holding the tool loosely, so that I momentarily lost control. I'm certain that had I been using a tool with a conventional handle, I'd have been more seriously injured, because I'd have completely lost control of the tool. When using any tool by extending it a long way beyond the tool rest, a small catch can, in an instant develop into a large bowl busting, arm wrenching catch. When using the arm brace tool, it is much easier to maintain control of the tool, helping to eliminate those big catches.

The regular hooker bar for the Stewart tool is 14 inches long. When he came out with a 21 inch bar I bought one. I used it on a few deep vessels but found it scary to use. For the deeper pieces I now use a Nichols captive tool.

I teach classes in a woodshop where we have 7 Woodfast lathes, some of them shortbed lathes. The on-off switch is located below the headstock, making it impossible to turn the lathe off when hollowing a vessel. For that reason I don't allow the students to turn vessels with openings so small that they can't safely remove the tool with the lathe running. A remote control would be a great addition.


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