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Splinters
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I Think we should have a new section for stupid questions...like the one I have...(sheesh). OK, I am a beginner turner. Kind of self taught. I see videos and such and read...a little. I've successfully turned pens, handles, vases (small ones) and now a small jewelry dish. So far, I seem to be doing ok. The one problem I have is in sharpening the chisels... Please keep in mind I live on a fixed income and making large purchases is very difficult. So, here's what I have done. I purchased the Grizzly 10 inch wet grinder. I also purchased a couple of Tormek jigs. The one for sharpening gouges and skews. It seems, to me anyhow, that it's a learning curve. I have arthritis in my hands, not debilitating, but enough to make some tasks a bit more difficult. Ok, I understand the learning curve, but (here it comes) how do I know the tools are sharp, especially the gouges, without using them to see if they are or not...? See,may face is red for asking this.....
 

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Actually, this is a good question.

For any turning gouge, there are several time-tested ways to assess sharpness:

If you can "see" the edge of the gouge, it isn't sharp. When sharp, the very edge of the sharpened steel will seem to disappear in the light. Apparently, to the human eye, the reflection from an edge smaller (sharper) than a fraction of a mm is not detectable.

You should have a single, smoothly flowing bevel and, when your finger is brushed perpendicularly (unless you want a nasty cut) along the edge, it should "feel" sharp. I know this sounds stupid, but it actually is fairly accurate.

Also, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, wet grinders tend not to be the best at shaping turning tools. For incremental sharpening (touching up the edge) they are great. It takes WAY too long to reshape an edge using them (in my opinion anyway). I have a Tormek jig setup for my dry grinder for that purpose.
 

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first of all never feel embarrassed asking questions. Second of all the one you asked is one that all beginning turners ask themselves a million times. Because turning is very often a self taught thing the question (is my gouge sharp?) is one that may be tough to answer at first! Here are some guidelines that you can go through to tell is sharp. Some of these may seem like no duh type things so please dont take offense but they are things I had no idea about when I first started. The first thing to think about is to take a look at your tool. The bevel, (area going from the edge of your gouge to the heel) should be all one facet (when you first start learning anyway). Look at the bevel of your tool if it has multiple facets this means that when you sharpen you are taking off steel in many different places instead of one which means you are not getting a clean edge every time you take your tool to the grinder. These jigs are designed to give you a repeatable edge. One way to do this is to use some magic marker. Color in your bevel with black magic marker and look to see where you are grinding. If you are setting up your jigs correctly every time the magic marker will disappear from heal to toe uniformly.
Second way is to feel for the burr... As you sharpen you will notice that if you run your finger over the edge (NOT ALONG IT dont wanna cut yourself) but you will be able to feel a slight burr form. This is a good thing and means that the steel is being sharpened up to the edge.
Bevel angle- I like my bowl gouges at about 60 degrees and my spindle gouges at about 40 degrees but you may have different preferences get an angle finder from home depot and figure out what angle youve set your tools at.
Finally look at the edge of your tool. you want an elliptical edge with a smooth curve. Look out for flat spots or interruptions to the curve, look out for nicks in your edge. If you have a smooth elliptical curve to the edge you are going to get a smoother cut.
Get a cheap set of tools to practice on... The biggest advice I can give is to practice. Read, watch videos and learn. Then go practice. It won't take long for you to find a method of sharpening you really like and it won't take long to figure out if a gouge is sharp. Ask yourself the questions- What am I doing? How is it working? Am I applying the knowledge I have?
I know you said you wanted to find another way of figuring out if your gouge is sharp but the best way is to try it out on the wood. Look at the cut of a professional turner. Then look at your cut are they similar? Furthermore you will know when a gouge is dull because it becomes more difficult and darn near impossible to cut anything!
Realize too that there is more to a smooth cut than having a sharp edge grain direction, bevel and tool orientation all play a role in the type of cut you get. Thats a whole new kettle of fish though let us know where ya need help and we'll do our darndest to help. Happy turnin brother, welcome to the vortex:)
Bond
 

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No such things as a stupid question mate. Easiest way to tell if something Is sharp is looking at it. If you can see the edge, or light reflecting from it, its not sharp. There's always the down and dirty way, try cutting something. Try to take a shaving off end grain. If the cut is a little shiny, the tool is sharp
 

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I Think we should have a new section for stupid questions...like the one I have...(sheesh). OK, I am a beginner turner. Kind of self taught. I see videos and such and read...a little. I've successfully turned pens, handles, vases (small ones) and now a small jewelry dish. So far, I seem to be doing ok. The one problem I have is in sharpening the chisels... Please keep in mind I live on a fixed income and making large purchases is very difficult. So, here's what I have done. I purchased the Grizzly 10 inch wet grinder. I also purchased a couple of Tormek jigs. The one for sharpening gouges and skews. It seems, to me anyhow, that it's a learning curve. I have arthritis in my hands, not debilitating, but enough to make some tasks a bit more difficult. Ok, I understand the learning curve, but (here it comes) how do I know the tools are sharp, especially the gouges, without using them to see if they are or not...? See,may face is red for asking this.....

If what you have is the fine 10" dia x @ 2" wide wheel spinning in the water bath - This is PERFECT for doing chisels. The white colored stone...

THAT tool is awesome for chisels, block plane blades, Longer straight blades if you also have the optional blade holding jig to go with it...

:yes:
 

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Splinters
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the answers. I do see some "facets" when I do the gouges. I think using the wet grinder is a learning process. Thanks so much for all the replies...! I'm going to print them out so when I sharpen them again, I'll have these suggestions as a reference...
 

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Here is my video on correcting sharpening problems. One tip I will offer on how to tell if a tool is sharp is if you can make a very very fine cut. If the tool wants to skip out of the wood when trying to do a really fine cut then it's not sharp enough. You could also simply look at the edge with a magnifier. If you see the edge it's not sharp.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9G16ylEZHQ
 

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Video

John,

That video was really helpful. I had a 3/8" spindle gouge that I knew was too pointed and after viewing your video I was able to reshape it. I also had a 3/8" bowl gouge that's been my 'go to' tool when turning bowls and I wasn't pleased with the shape but I wasn't sure why. Between your video and Richard Raffan's book I am at least close on that one...and maybe there.

In all seriousness, Raffan is an excellent instructor but your video really communicated what the problems were, AND how to fix them and it did it really clearly. Thanks!

Don
 

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I'm a woodcarver and capable of sharpening chisels razor sharp but lathe chisels I just grind them only. At one time I honed them but gave it up because they didn't seem to stay sharp that much longer nor cut that much better to make it worth the trouble.
 
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