Proper tool angle - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-12-2009, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Proper tool angle

Rather than continuing to go off topic in another thread....
...I thought I would start a new topic in case someone used the search feature this might be easier to find later on. John Lucas had made a comment regarding how some tools come from the manufacturer not sharp and sometimes w/o the proper angle grind. I knew that most turning chisels say they should be honed before being used which I took to mean sharpened. Maybe that's not the right terminology though. However I hadn't considered them not having the right angle. I have just sharpened mine to the factory angle.

Well low and behold last night as I lay down my weary head and picked up my newly acquired copy of Woodturning: A Foundation Course by Keith Rowley I began chapter 3 -Tools of the Trade. It began to display the proper angles for different gouges, skews and such. However my question is do they make a little tool or template that as you are sharpening you can compare the grind angle, to make sure you are on the right track? What do you guys use to set your angles? Seems like a guy at Woodcraft had a little plastic cube like thing with lots of different angles you could slip your chisel into to see where it was at. If I remember right he said he got it at a wood show somewhere. Thanks!

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post #2 of 7 Old 03-12-2009, 07:41 PM
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I have a magnetic angle guage that I set on the tool then adjust shapening jig to the angle I want, varys from tool to tool. Dean
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-12-2009, 10:06 PM
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Angle guages are available through most of the suppliers. Tormek includes one with their grinders. You could make your own if you were careful and had an accurate protractor. I think Rocklers has one that is plastic and inexpensive. Keep in mind one thing on the angles; there are suggested angles for different tools. You don't necessarily have to be exact. You will get different opinions on how people like to sharpen their tools. In other words, if a tool calls for a 40 degree angle and you sharpen yours to 37, it will still work. You may end up presenting it to the wood at a slightly different angle. You do want to keep them in the ballpark. On some tools like a bowl gouge, there are many different ways to sharpen one. Standard grinds , fingernail grinds , etc. Experiment a little bit at a time and see what you like.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-12-2009, 10:33 PM
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As was said before if you ask 40 turners how to sharpen you'll get 40 different answers. I find that a lot of beginners get an inexpensive set of tools. many of them are sharpened to the old angles used by spindle turners of the past and they were good for that in the hands of an experienced turner. I find that the angles are usually too acute for beginners. For example the ones my friend brought over this weekend were sharpened to 30 degrees. I think they are much easier for new turners if they are about 45 degrees. That's measured from the flute across the bevel and these are spindle gouges or detail gouges.
Many of them also have grinds that end rather bluntly at the corners. I like to round the grind so it's more of a fingernail around both sides instead of just a shallow arc on the front. This helps keep the corners from catching.
The above is especially true with the round nosed scraper. I grind the left side of the round nose scraper back about an inch. This lets you cut with the tip and the left side which makes it much more user friendly.
Skew often come sharpened at 25 degrees. This is great if you really good with a skew. It's really grabby if you aren't I use 35 degrees on mine and most people find this a lot easier to use.
They didn't have bowl gouges before about 1975 or 80 and they have come a long way. You see them sharpened all sorts of ways. It's hard to go wrong with the Ellsworth grind or the grind that Oneway uses on their Wolverine jig. Those are good starting points.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-13-2009, 01:39 AM
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Since I've started out with the one of the harbor freight tool sets, I don't have that much money invested. So I've felt pretty free to experiment with the grinds on some of them. The little 1/4" spindle gouge, I reground and got rid of the sharp corners ( it's almost a bowl gouge). When I first used it afterward I noticed it was way more aggressive at cutting. It kinda scared me at first. Now I love it and it's one of my go to tools. That told me that changing the grind can really affect the feel of a tool.
My round nosed scraper is pretty much re-ground exactly the way John described.
It comes down to you and you technique, so you just find what works for you.

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post #6 of 7 Old 03-13-2009, 06:36 AM
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With very few exceptions, the purpose of most factory grinds are to make them look good to sell tools. We usually have to shape them for the type of work we do. How deep a bowl we want our bowl gouge capable to handle dictates the nose angle.
It doesn't make sense for the manufacturers to waste time and steel to grind the tools, and they would be changed anyway.
Sharper included angle can slice through wood fiber with less effort, can have a cleaner cut and access to detail area; but it won't hold the edge as well and tricky to control (easier to have a catch).
What is best for you depends on your priority.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-13-2009, 09:57 AM
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I read the above links in this thread and, being a complete noob, was pretty lost. I guess if my reading skills were good, I'd have a proper job.

Anyhoo, if anyone prefers visual aids, I found this site that has a nice tool sharpening video.
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