John K Jordan
>>>Wondering if anyone has tried helping a person learn a new tool (skew, gouge, scraper) by turning the spindle by hand while the student brings the tool to the wood.
That's the way I always teach beginners, for at over 10 years now, maybe 12. We start with the skew chisel and they learn the bevel, the edge, and how to position the skew safely and make fine cuts. The skew is perfect for this since it is about as simple a cutting tool possible.
After a few minutes of this (depending on the person) I turn the lathe on to it's lowest speed, about 50 RPM, and they practice. Not long after, they are making planing cuts with the skew at high speed. I have never had a student fail to learn the skew and none have gotten a catch. After working with some other tools, several have reported the skew is their favorite.
I've also used this method with experience turners who were afraid of the skew. It worked for them too.
I forgot to mention - I always start them with a spindle blank I've already turned round. I think the "violent" roughing method often taught first is intimidating to some. After they have practiced the skew I introduce the roughing gouge, still on a rounded blank. Then the spindle gouge. Finally after all that, I show how to make a square blank round.