Turning Archive 2005

Tool rest height

Keith Tompkins
>A little survey....How many turners here at WC have trouble with tool rest height? Do you turn with it high, or low? WHY? Do you find you are constantly tinkering with the height of the tool rest?

Here's my theory....This applies to all spindle turning, and outside of bowls only. The higher the tool rest, in relation to the centerline of the piece, will result in poorer forms, and more frequent catches. Catches high up on a turning will be more severe than catches on the center-line. Why? The higher the tool contacts the turning, the more mass is under the cutting edge. The cutting edge is also further away from the rest. A catch will pull the tool deeper and deeper into the cut, resulting in a major catch. On the other hand, a catch that occurs right on the centerline has only air beneath, so a catch won't tend to be as severe.( I use gouges with the flute on the side in most cases)

I have been studying people using the skew....most use the tool high up on the turning...when a catch occurs, it's usually a good one...the tool is pulled into the cut by the wood beneath.Can the skew be used right on center? Yes, especially with long point down.

Also using a gouge with a high rest, in order to obtain a smaller diameter on a turning, the tool handle must be raised,and at the same time, the tool must be rolled to prevent an edge from digging in. In this situation, the handle of the tool cannot rest against the body, and support and control is lost. It is difficult to watch the cutting edge and the "horizon" of the turning at the same time, so the form usually suffers. Coves are hard to cut, as the gouge tends to be used flat, with the flute down. With a low rest, It's easy to cut from large diameter to small without raising the tool handle at all. One fluid motion. This topic is a new demo I'm doing, and the basis for a new article...(I hope) Thoughts and opinions welcome.

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