Turning Archive 2004

Tool sharpening - strange behavior?

>Fellow over on Woodnet suggested I post this here, in hope of an answer.

After 30 years of woodworking, I am finally getting into this lathe thing (at least the tool sharpening part) and finding a couple of unusual things. I have the Conover book and several book-length articles from the internet (mostly from Brits), a Woodcraft slow-speed grinder with dressed wheels, a homemade Wolverine-style jig for each wheel, and the Veritas tool rest. Tools include the HF carbon-steel set ($9.99) and the HF HSS set ($30).

I started practicing on the carbon-steel gouges, round-nose scrapers, and skews. Didn't have any trouble reshaping the nose angle (per the books) and sharpening to a knife-edge without burning. Used the 60-grit wheel only for initial shaping, 120-grit for sharpening, and used very light pressure with quenching after each pass. 1000-grit slipstone removed the burrs. Tools would smoothly cut an ash spindle used as a test piece, without tearing.

On to the HSS tools. I found it was far easier to burn the gouge edges than was the case with the CS using the same technique, although the books say the opposite should be true. Specifically, I tend to get a tiny bit of bluing at the edge, at the end of a "roll" in the jig. Also, the HSS edges did not seem to "feel" as sharp as the CS ones, nor were the cuts quite as smooth initially. Of course, the harder steel edge lasts longer as expected.

Are these observations normal? If not, do I have a bad batch of the "famous" HF tools, or what am I doing wrong? I hesitate to buy any good tools, or attack a fingernail gouge, until this is resolved.

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