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Discussion Starter #1
I recently built a pine staircase in my rental. I decided to take a crack at turning a couple of newell posts. I don't have much experience with the lathe but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I glued 2 2x4's together. I have a shopsmith and the capacity isn't enough to turn the full piece so I turned a tenon on the bottom and plan to attatch the square portion via that. I knew I probably would have trouble so I am not terrible surprised . Pics are attached. Is there something I can do to prevent or repair tear out. Maybe 2x4's are not feasible. The pine 2x's finish to match the staircase perfectly.
 

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Sharper tools?
A skew slicing cut?
Are these going to be painted ?
If they are and it's for a rental, then bondo's your buddy....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately they will be stained with Minwax Early American and finished with Ace Semi Gloss waterbase poly. My tools are very sharp. I attempted to tip up the tip of the tool to slice and it just catches so I went back to scraping. I have a feeling that the lower quality of the 2x's play a large part in this. This is the second pine staircase that I have built. The first was a craftsman style so no turning necessary. The 2x's finished up perfectly matching the treads.
 

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The scraping is the problem. Pine end grain just won't scrape. You need to use a cutting motion. Watch my 2 videos on beads and coves and it may help. You have to rub the bevel of the tool. Your coming off the bevel which is why it's catching. When first start a cut with the point of the tool there isn't a bevel to rub. You have to start very gently and slowly and some people use there thumb as kind of bevel to support the tool and get it started. Once it starts then there is a shoulder for the bevel to ride against and you can finish the cut.
For beads the video is a better than me trying to tell you what to do.

 

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I'm not trying to be an a**hole, but if you're getting tear out like that, then your tools aren't sharp enough :no: Fresh touch up on the grinder, very light touch and that should minimize it quite a bit. Some of it is just like John said, pine is not the greatest for end grain.
 

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Unless I missed it, you didn't say what tools you are using.

For the finishing cuts, are you using ...

- a skew?
- a spindle gouge?
- a spindle detail gouge?
- a scraper?
- an Easy Wood Tool?
- a Hunter carbide tool?
- other?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The scraping is the problem. Pine end grain just won't scrape. You need to use a cutting motion. Watch my 2 videos on beads and coves and it may help. You have to rub the bevel of the tool. Your coming off the bevel which is why it's catching. When first start a cut with the point of the tool there isn't a bevel to rub. You have to start very gently and slowly and some people use there thumb as kind of bevel to support the tool and get it started. Once it starts then there is a shoulder for the bevel to ride against and you can finish the cut.
For beads the video is a better than me trying to tell you what to do.
turning beads 2 - Yohaning a Cove - YouTube
Thanks John. It appears that the problem has to do with horrible technique...Lathe speed too slow, too agressive on the cuts...and basically using my tools wrong. I will try another this week. I expect to do several before I nail the technique but that is half the fun...right?... You say you have a home made skew...Did you use a chisel to grind to a skew? The beading tools that you made with screwdrivers...Would you be able to show a close up of the actual grind...Also would be interesting in seeing your DC/Lathe set up. I haven't been very successful in picking up the chips, ie more on the floor than in the collector. Your gouges appear a lot heavier than mine. I just have the original starter kit that I got from shopsmith some 35 years ago. Again, thanks for you advise...I think I'll take a crack at filling up my DC with practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Unless I missed it, you didn't say what tools you are using.

For the finishing cuts, are you using ...

- a skew?
- a spindle gouge?
- a spindle detail gouge?
- a scraper?
- an Easy Wood Tool?
- a Hunter carbide tool?
- other?
I was using a spindle gouge...incorrectly I might add. With the above videos under my belt I will go resharpen my tools and practice, practice, practice. The good thing is that 2x's don't break the bank so the worst thing is having to empty my DC.
 

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I was using a spindle gouge...incorrectly I might add. With the above videos under my belt I will go resharpen my tools and practice, practice, practice. The good thing is that 2x's don't break the bank so the worst thing is having to empty my DC.
As good as John's videos are (and they are excellent), nothing beats having an experienced turner at your side.

If you can find a turning club nearby, or a Woodcraft store that runs classes, or simply another turner in the neighbourhood -- it can make all the difference to have somebody observe and suggest better ways to stand, to face the wood, to move the tool across the wood.

I've never met a turner who wants another turner to have difficulty.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
As good as John's videos are (and they are excellent), nothing beats having an experienced turner at your side.

If you can find a turning club nearby, or a Woodcraft store that runs classes, or simply another turner in the neighbourhood -- it can make all the difference to have somebody observe and suggest better ways to stand, to face the wood, to move the tool across the wood.

I've never met a turner who wants another turner to have difficulty.
Thanks for the suggestion...I don't know if I would be able to work that out. Noone locally. My work hours are very oppressive so time is a very precious commodity for me. Going out of town isn't really realistic for me now...maybe in a few more years after retirement. As with many hobby woodworkers, my retirement to do list is very very long. Assuming I stay healthy, I have another 5 years of work.
 

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Thanks John. It appears that the problem has to do with horrible technique...Lathe speed too slow, too agressive on the cuts...and basically using my tools wrong. I will try another this week. I expect to do several before I nail the technique but that is half the fun...right?... You say you have a home made skew...Did you use a chisel to grind to a skew? The beading tools that you made with screwdrivers...Would you be able to show a close up of the actual grind...Also would be interesting in seeing your DC/Lathe set up. I haven't been very successful in picking up the chips, ie more on the floor than in the collector. Your gouges appear a lot heavier than mine. I just have the original starter kit that I got from shopsmith some 35 years ago. Again, thanks for you advise...I think I'll take a crack at filling up my DC with practice.
I would also be very interested in making some beading tools. Any info you could provide would be excellent.
 

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I had a shopsmith and my Dad still does although he's trying to sell all his stuff. He's 88, had a stroke a year or so ago and simply can't remember how to do a lot of the stuff. The tool they give aren't bad but grinds on them aren't very good. I usually reshape them slightly.
They will work just put a good edge on them and use the bevel rubbing techniques. My homemade skews are mostly made from High Carbon steel and one is made from a file. You have to properly temper the file before using. It is too hard as they come and can be dangerous to use. They are too brittle. I put them in the oven 425 degrees and let them sit for an hour, then just turn it off and let them cool overnight. That reduces the hardness and makes them less brittle.
Here is a photo of one of my beading tools. Not the greatest photo but maybe you can get the idea.
 

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I'm a wood carver. Been working in western red cedar for 10+ years.
Easy for me to see what's wrong in your pictures.
In conifer softwoods, there is a big density difference between the early wood and the late wood in each annual growth ring. Spruce/pine/fir/cedar = all of them.
If and when there is rapid tree growth (as in your pictures), the wide rings have a lot of really soft early wood. That crushes, no matter how sharp or what sort of edge you use. It will happen, it's far softer than balsa. Right now, I'm carving in pieces of a WRC fence post. Why? Clear and straight and pushing 50 rings/inch = every bit as hard and smooth and glassy cuts as into birch.
Next time, take a ruler with you. As good as the wood may look, anything less than 20 rings/inch is crap. Walk away from it. What did you buy? At a guess, maybe 6 rings/inch?
 

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I turn a lot of crappy 2x4's as demos. With sharp tools and proper techniques you can get an almost polished surface. Proper tool presentation and not forcing the cut are the two most critical things other than a sharp tool. Even punky wood can be cut pretty clean with the right technique. I'm getting better at it. I watched Stewart Batty turn what most people would throw in the trash and get a finish that could easily be sanded with 400 grit. Of course he's been turning since he was like 3 or something.
 

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Thanks jl, that's another part of the puzzle = "proper technique." Without knowing that, I'll recommend ring count to everyone as a place to start in wood selection. Some years back, I wasted good money on what I believed was great WRC for carving. Beautiful, straight-grained and clear. Maybe 6 rings/inch. Most of the shake blocks and logs that I have now are 30+. I've got a tree-top Hemlock log, 8" x 72" (actually for the knot pattern!) but the ring count is less than 10. Don't know what it will be like, never carved Hemlock. Maybe firewood.
 

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Good wood is without a doubt easier to turn, and to carve. I certainly won't argue that. Hand carving is different from wood turning in that you can often get away with more in turning. Hand carving will show up all sorts of problems with either tool control or cut as well as grain direction. Of course you should also follow grain direction in woodturing for the cleanest cuts but I find you can get away with more than you can in carving.
 

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John someday in the future you may find a dude on his knees on your door step, tears welled in his eyes like a big sad kitty cat, asking for help....he cant make it today, he has snow to relocate.
 

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The result of low ring count looks just as bad in a WRC carving.
I'm going with the grain, down into the wood, slicing skew cut
and visible divots pop out. I know it isn't internal shatter from poor logging technique.
Keeping all my tools carving sharp is not the problem.
With a 20X magnifier, I can see how the early wood just simply crushed ahead of the edge.
The only way that I know to get around that is a long & tedious series of extremely shallow cuts.
But, the worst of it always happens with the last cut, not the first.
All my knives, crooked and straight, are at 12 degrees, skews at 20. The knives are a bit of a help but the cut shapes are not what I need at that spot.
The straight forward solution to the puzzle is to be much more careful in wood selection in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The result of low ring count looks just as bad in a WRC carving.
I'm going with the grain, down into the wood, slicing skew cut
and visible divots pop out. I know it isn't internal shatter from poor logging technique.
Keeping all my tools carving sharp is not the problem.
With a 20X magnifier, I can see how the early wood just simply crushed ahead of the edge.
The only way that I know to get around that is a long & tedious series of extremely shallow cuts.
But, the worst of it always happens with the last cut, not the first.
All my knives, crooked and straight, are at 12 degrees, skews at 20. The knives are a bit of a help but the cut shapes are not what I need at that spot.
The straight forward solution to the puzzle is to be much more careful in wood selection in the first place.
What you say makes a lot of sense...I think I'll practice on the cheap stuff for a while and then go wood shopping. Thanks for the insight.
 
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