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twingall1
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm just starting out wood-turning on a Clarke 20" wood lathe. One of the things i want to do is turn chess pieces from ebony/boxwood.
Trying to decide on a set of chisels and i need some advice. There seems to be a huge price range out there and a lot of choise. I want some nice quality chisels but i don't want to break the bank! (maybe something in the £20-£60 range..(($30-$100))

Also, using these two examples (one is £13, the other £50), can someone give me a breakdown of the difference in quality?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/8pc-BRAND...t=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item58a13b6000


http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/8pc-HSS-P...t=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item5d3a31bef4


Many thanks,
Tom
 

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Don't buy a set. There will be sizes and gouges you'll probably rarely ever use. To do the type of items you mentioned, I'd get a roughing gouge, diamond parting tool, 1-2 different sized spindle gouges and maybe a skew. Robert Sorby and Henry Taylor are good brands. Thompson lathe tools are fantastic but they are a little pricy.
 

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I would go with Sawdustfactory's recommendation.

A set sounds less expensive, but you will have tools which do not get used.

UK brands like Robert Sorby and Henry Taylor are good, and they have different quality of tools.

I have some tools from both of these companies.

Cheaper tools will require more frequent sharpening.

Sawdustfactory mentioned Thompson tools. These are terrific tools, but he is a US manufacturer. I expect the shipping would be expensive.

I do not know the mail order companies in the UK, but start looking for the Robert Sorby and Henry Taylor tools in the UK mail order companies.
 

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Yep , what they said , don't buy sets .
Get the two ot three basic tools for what you intend starting off doing , and then get more as you go .
Sets have a few drawbacks .

The handles are all the same , and whilst that looks pretty , when you are reaching for a tool in the rack , or on the shaving covered bench , it gets frustrating picking up the wrong one , two or three times .

The handles /tools are all the same length , and as time goes by , the wrong length .

Unless you splash out big big money , the sets are not made of the best materials .

Along with two or three quality tools , buy a dedicated bench grinder with the correct fine wheels , and unless you are highly skilled at tool sharpening , as in maybe do it as part of a full time occupation , get a sharpening jig to go with it .

The two sets you have pictured are made from steel flat bar stock .

Check out tools made with round bar stock

This sort of stuff
woodturning chisels gouges round bar stock
 

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You could turn all the chess pieces you want with 2 tools. A parting tool and a small detail or spindle gouge. The Thompson 3/8" detail gouge is my go too tool for all small things and if you know anything about me, I turn really small things. The parting tool would be used mostly for rough sizing to get the dimensions right and for parting the piece off the lathe when your done.
www.thompsonlathetools.com
 

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When I started, I bought a set of HSS tools from harbor Freight (don't know if there is a British equivalent). The previous post
Are correct you only use a few of the tools. However, once I go a little more knowledge of what I needed, I was able to re-grind some of the profiles to suite my needs. I also replaced the crappy handles with my own turned handles, which was great practice. The steel wasn't too bad, and I use the 3/8 gouge (growing to a detail profile) on just about every project. I would make sure to get a grinder and some sort of sharpening jig right away. I just remember my frustration of trying to use dull tools. My .02 shillings.
 

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If I had it to do over I would start with 3/8 detail gouge, 1/2 bowl gouge ground with a swept back profile, a thin parting tool, a 1/2 regular spindle gouge, and a 1 1/4 roughing gouge. These are the tools
I use the most. U can add a skew once you get some confidence and practice. Then you will be far enough into the vortex to start adding all of the tools you "have to have". Beware of the hype around new styles or you'll end up with a bunch of your hard earned pay collecting dust.
 

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:thumbsup: I've been happy with Sorby there so look at them closely to, but look for the long run just in case you start turning bowls :thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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Hmmm ... just looked at the PDF of the manual for this lathe.

I don't think it's going to easy to use it for bowl turning. Perhaps small bowls -- but you'd have to start out with round blanks that are well balanced, because the minimum speed is high (850rpm) and the lathe is kind of small -- it'd bounce all over the place if you tried to turn an out-of-balance blank at that speed.

For chess pieces and similar, I would recommend:

(1) a narrow parting tool (for example the Robert Sorby 1/16" fluted parting tool)
(2) a 3/4" to 1" spindle roughing gouge, doesn't have to be "name brand" expensive one
(3) a 3/8" spindle gouge (or spindle detail gouge), worth paying a bit extra and getting a Sorby / Taylor / Crown rather than a no-name

IMO, YMMV, etc, etc ...
 

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twingall1
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Duncsuss,

Thanks for the advice, I went for these, but skimped on the parting tool, going for a standard, thin parting tool due to cost.. Axminster roughing gouge, Sorby spindle gouge 3/8" (love it) and sorby spindle/detail gouge 5/32".
My only problem is the 5/32" spindle/detail gouge: It catches and jars very easily, to the point that i'm reluctant to even use it for fear of damaging it.. What is wrong here? I'm using the standard technique of touching the bevel and gently raising the handle base. Using lath speeds of 800>>2500rpm. Keeping rest very close to the work. The tool arrived with a not quite perfect curve at the tip; but at the same time, it did not look defective.. i assumed that some irregularity was to be expected with such tiny widths..

Thanks to everyone for the helpful advice
 

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Did you hone the tool when you got it, should have a nice tip to it so check again an hone it an it should work great for you
 

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I have to say, the spindle detail gouge has been tough for me also.

It can help to think about the mechanics of a catch. Imagine a line down the dead center of the flute. If the flute is tipped a few degrees to one side (it doesn't matter which side) then one side of the imaginary line is "low" and one side is "high".

A catch happens when the edge that is "high" encounters the spinning wood -- because it's above the fulcrum, it whips the tool down, pulling the cutting edge deeper and deeper into the wood.

Unless the tip of your tool is AT or BELOW the lathe axis -- in which case whipping the tool down pulls it into the empty space beneath the workpiece.

So there are 2 ways I know of to reduce the tendency to catch -- working at or below the central axis is a good one (especially with the skew chisel), and ensuring that the "low" side of the flute is what contacts the wood.

That said ... I'm such a beginner at this, you should check out the videos on Youtube by John Lucas (his Youtube name is John60Lucas).

HTH
 

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I can't remember where I saw it, but it was recent. Maybe in the AAW magazine or another wood working mag, but there was an article about catches and resharpening and basically what Dunc was saying.

Just checked and it wasn't AAW, so don't remember where.
 
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