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Old 06-13-2014, 11:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Carbide Tool Question

I have been turning for a couple of years using Easy Wood Tools carbides. For some softer woods, this leaves the wood sort of chewed up. Unfortunately I do not have a means to sharpen tools because of space limitations. Is there another tool that I could use like the carbides that would give me cleaner results like using a skew? Are there carbide skews or does that Sorby Turnmaster thing really work? I would like to be able to get a smoother finish and less tearing. And sharpening is just not an option.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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You may not have room for a dedicated sharpening station, but that doesn't mean that you should rule out sharpening.

If you are concerned about the finished surface on pens, the best tool for the job is a skew. And you don't need a grinder to sharpen a skew. In fact, a grinder may be exactly the wrong way to sharpen a skew.

One option is the possibility of using your lathe to sharpen tools. You can pick up a 5" sanding mandrel at Harbor Freight, Home Depot or Lowes. The challenge is to figure out how to mount it on your lathe. If it comes with a shaft, you can use a chuck. Another option, however, is thread a block of wood to screw onto your lathe spindle (if you don't already have a spindle tap, you can get one at Ace Hardware for about $20). Then, attach the sanding mandrel to the block of wood so that you can then use ordinary sandpaper to sharpen your skew. Actually, you can sharpen any turning tool other than scrapers with that sanding mandrel.

And if you want to get fancy, you can make a sanding mandrel from a scrap of MDF that you mount on the handwheel on your headstock - that way, the mandrel is always in place so you never have to dismount the workpiece to tune up your edges.

The other option for skews is that once you have used sandpaper to get the shape you want, you can sharpen the edge using a diamond hone. Diamond hones come in various sizes - small paddles, the credit-card size that is fairly popular with some turners, and Harbor Freight even has larger hones that are fairly inexpensive. If you use a diamond hone to sharpen your skew, its advisable to use some kind of lubricant - tap water with a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent works just fine. I use a credit-card sized hone exclusively to sharpen my skews - it takes no space at all because it lives in the pocket of my turning jacket.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Sometimes sandpaper works best. Turn as close to size as you feel comfortable and sand down the rest of the way.

Two other thoughts pop into my mind:

1. If the wood is that soft, won't the pen get beat up pretty quickly?

2. For the first few years, I used a whetstone to sharpen my skew. The stone takes up the space of two decks of cards and cost about $5.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Buy a skew and have someone sharpen it for you. Then you only need a diamond stone to touch it up. The skew is very easy to sharpen by hand. Unless you smash it into the bushings, the diamond stone should be all you need. Touch it up often. You could have someone regrind it every once in a while if you think it needs it.

Edit: Should have read the replies first. Monophoto and thewishman beat me to it.
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Old 06-13-2014, 01:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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[quote=kovalcik;1676500]Buy a skew and have someone sharpen it for you.

My local Woodcraft will sharpen tools! If one is close, check when they are not busy, and possibly a nominal cost. And as stated above, this does not need to be done for every pen!

Also, as stated above - find another pen turner close by and acquire/bribe a new friend!
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Old 06-13-2014, 02:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmartyking View Post
I have been turning for a couple of years using Easy Wood Tools carbides. For some softer woods, this leaves the wood sort of chewed up. Unfortunately I do not have a means to sharpen tools because of space limitations. Is there another tool that I could use like the carbides that would give me cleaner results like using a skew? Are there carbide skews or does that Sorby Turnmaster thing really work? I would like to be able to get a smoother finish and less tearing. And sharpening is just not an option.
Re-read your first comments.

I have/used the Sorby Turnmaster and it is to be sharpened with a diamond hone! So that may be a good option for you. NOTE: I'm neither proficient with a skew or the Turnmaster. I stink using the skew; but have had decent success with the Turnmaster. I suspect it is a "lazy person's" skew. Having said that - I've been told that ANY tool will do great once we/I really learn how to use it!
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Here's a video that may help. I have been using this method and like the simplicity of it.
close-up on skews.avi - YouTube
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Penn State sells a little carbide tipped pen skew that works quite nicely for the application you mentioned.

It's called Benjamin's Best Carbide pen skew. It's in the +\- $25 range. It'll last forever and can easily be sharpened by hand with a wet stone.
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