Woodturning has really come of age over the last couple of decades. Hobbyists turning wood in their basements to professional woodsmiths are earning full-time livings on wood lathes. Unlike the early years of electric lathes, the woodturners of today are pushing the boundaries of the art, creating some of the most distinctive designs in history.
Three Basic Rules to Woodturning
Woodturning can take many valid approaches, and many advanced woodturners create their own unique turning styles. However, there are three basic rules that all woodturners should follow: First, always use sharp tools. They are more effective, and make woodturning a lot more enjoyable. Second, practice all the time--nothing can substitute for time on the lathe. Third, but not least, love what you do. Woodturners should never be stressed over a project; woodturning is an art, and if you enjoy what you do, you will keep doing it and keep improving.
A Woodturner's Basic Tool Kit
When turning wood projects, there are a few basic tools you will always need:
--A 1-inch roughing gouge for rapid removal of stock between the project centers.
--Two skew chisels, a ¾-inch chisel for planning and tapering, and a ½ -inch chisel for shaping curves and making decorative cuts.
--Two spindle gouges, a 1-inch gouge for general spindle turning, and a ½-inch gouge for delicate spindle work.
--A ¼-inch diamond section parting tool for parting off and making sizing cuts.
--A ¾-inch bowl gouge for faceplate turning of 10-inch bowls or smaller, and a ¼-inch deep flute bowl gouge for finer faceplate turning.
--A ¾-inch round nose scraper for cleaning up concave surfaces and hollow faceplate work.
--A 1-inch square-end scraper for flattening and smoothing convex surfaces.
Woodturning Hook Tools
Patterned after Swedish specialty woodturning tools for end-grain hollowing, the hook tools come in two sizes and are sold without handles. The short hook is for hollow work with gradual interior curves; the long hook is for forms with tight internal curves, such as a necked vase.
Woodturning Ring Tool
Used for end-grain hollowing of vases, boxes and other hollow turnings. The ring tool is ideal for areas difficult to reach with a bowl gouge. The ring tool comes with interchangeable cutting rings. The ring tool cutting rings are sharpened on the inside bevel. It also comes in three standard sizes: 5/16, 7/16 and 9 /16 inches.
Woodturning Tool Sharpening Techniques
Sharpening a woodturning tool is a delicate technique. The bevel angle of the tool must be ground properly before the sharpening can begin. The grinding requirements of cutting and scraping tools are very different because of the way they are used on a lathe. The bevel of the cutting tool must rub on the wood stock at all times to help control the cut. The scrapers, on the other hand, shave away wood with a burr. The angles they require depend on the individual type of scraper, and the wood project. When grinding the bevel it is critical to create a single-faceted bevel with a continuous face. This can be done by keeping the bevel perfectly flat on the grinding wheel.