I donít consider myself any great shakes as a turner, but Iíve used
Back in the late Ď50ís - early Ď60ís when I was the principle
sweeper, plank holder, sharpener and gofer in my uncleís boat yard,
he had a graceful old Victorian wood lathe among his line shaft
machines converted to electricity. I donít remember the make,
only that it didnít get much use except for making a few tool
handles and the occasional fancy thwart or folding table postÖ and I
was drawn to it, probably because it was the quietest machine inside
the shed. I eventually succeeded in him showing me how to use
it one rainy day, and I remember him having me hand hone his ancient
lathe tools as the first step. Those tools were all dark-patinaíd
carbon steel, and I remember how smooth they cut when freshly honed.
During the following 30 years, I worked off and on in several large
commercial shops with larger modern lathes and modern HSS toolsÖ
mostly Sorby. Most of the work was spindle turning paper-split
half and quarter-round moldings for Colonial and Victorian furniture
reproductions, and what I remember mostly was sanding. I donít
like sanding, or grinding tools for that matter, and I didnít
remember doing a lot of either with Uncle Paulís old lathe.
So fast forward another decade, and I have my own newly-acquired
lathe and the HSS tools that came with itÖ.and I was back to sanding
and grinding again. So why not try a few shop-made carbon tools,
The old chisels of Uncle Paulís childhood are plentiful at the tool
auctions and are dirt cheap to boot. So I convert a few using
the traditional methods I was taught 40 years ago and try them:
The big inch-and-a-half roughing
gouge ground to a 45-degree bevel easily fills its cannel with
long, thick shavings.
The parting tool makes clean
shavings in long noodles.