Despite the popular belief that our woodturnings are the work of wizards, they are actually created meticulously by our talented woodturner, Jack Lilley. Armed with the proper tools for the job, Jack works his magic on reclaimed and salvaged wood. What exactly are the proper tools for the job? Jack has been kind enough to share the top 5 tools for successful woodturning.
The lathe is the foundation of any woodturning toolkit. Being such an integral part of the process, woodturners don't skimp here. This piece of equipment can easily account for 1/3 of all of the tool costs. The lathe is the machine that actually turns the wood. A piece of wood is locked into the lathe and begins to spin at a high rate of speed. One could think of it working the same way as a pottery wheel (albeit on it's side) where instead of shaping with our hands, we shape with our cutting tools.
2. Bowl Gouge
For bowl turning a bowl gouge is a necessary and versatile tool at the lathe.
The bowl gouge is the tool that we use the most. We use 3 different sizes of
this gouge, ¼”, ⅜” and ½”. The grind, or the way the bowl gouge is sharpened is
different depending on what and where cuts are being made. We mostly employ a popular grind referred to as a "fingernail grind" or "Ellsworth grind" for turning the insides of bowls. This grind offers a much broader range of cutting action as well as reducing dig-ins (damage to the bowl.) A blunt-ended gouge is used for cutting the bottoms of bowls. It quickly becomes clear that there is a gouge and a grind for every task. The combinations are endless. Each turner will develop a profile that fits their own
needs and style of turning.
3. Spindle Roughing Gouge / Spindle Gouge
The spindle roughing gouge is used for turning round spindles out of square pieces of wood. This will result in a rough spindle (although with practice and good technique, a smooth surface can be obtained.) From here the spindle gouge, a more precise gouge, is used to finish the spindle and for detail work. A great example of detail would be the beads that we turn in our Basket Weave Illusion pieces.
Scrapers are interesting in that they do not carry a sharp edge. These blunt tools actually cut with a burr that can't be seen with the naked eye. The burr can be felt when running a finger across the tool. We use scrapers quite a bit when finishing the insides of bowls. Like the gouges, they can be modified with different grinds. A favorite of ours is called the "negative rake".
5. Parting Tool
A parting tool is used to "part" the turned piece from the remaining wood. Although basic, it is an extremely important tool that we couldn't live without.
Bonus Tool - Skew
For those feeling brave, the skew is one of the most difficult tools to learn. In the hands of an experienced turner, the skew has many uses. We tend to use the skew when turning spindles or adding fine detail to our pieces.
"This is only the beginning of the tools needed for woodturning. Each one of these
tools will need to be sharpened continuously so a grinder and a sharpening jig is
required. I may sharpen my bowl gouge 3 or 4 times while finishing one bowl,
although a gouge made from high quality steel will usually only need to be
sharpened a couple of times."