Turning Archive

the skew *PIC*

John K Jordan
>>>I really like that skew philosophy.

Thanks! So far it has never failed to work. The method I use has even been effective with woodturners who never learned to use the skew (but are now motivated to try again!)

In case anyone is interested: I start with a blank I've already rounded perfectly smooth, maybe 2" dia, 12" long or so, fairly soft wood. Do demonstrate I also made an oversized (4" dia) blank and a model of a skew from wood (from a 2x3) to make it easy to see the angles and clearances needed.

I turn the lathe by hand until they learn to feel exactly what it takes to make a consistent shaving, talking through the anchor/bevel/cut thing, the angle of the skew on the wood, the position of the cut on the edge and how to change it, and important - the stance and "dance."

After a few minutes of turning by hand, I turn the lathe on at the lowest speed (pretty slow with the 3520) and they make powered shavings with me making suggestions and correcting as needed, then gradually turn up the speed. Every time the cylinder surface gets ripples I clean it up to give them a perfect surface so the ripples don't confuse things.

Without fail, in short order everyone is making planing cuts at 2000+ rpm with confidence. Well, old turners who have tried and had disasters with the skew take a little more time! So far, not one person has had a catch with the skew, at least not during the lesson.

I use the over-sized wooden skew model again to show the clearances needed to cut v-grooves without catches. We make a series of v-grooves then on to the spindle gouge for shallow coves, then beads. I've had several beginners say the spindle gouge is so much harder to learn than the skew!

Then as a confidence builder with beginners (especially teens), we always make something they can take home. I've posted these before, first time to touch a turning tool: a morning with the skew and an afternoon with face turning (a practice bowl then one to take home).

The next time or so they come we have review, more practice, then usually learn thin spindle techniques:

Like my piano teacher always said, everything's easy once you know how. Good clean fun!


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