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Old 07-08-2018, 09:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Versatile skew

The skew is my goto tool for most of my pen turning. While I feel that Iíve got it mastered there is one use that has only produced inconsistent and sometimes disastrous results and that is when I lay it flat on the tool rest and try and correct a slight out of round blank or level CA ripples.
Most of the time I get the result I want, sometimes I bet chip out and canít work out why itís happened. I figure it must be the way l present the tool. Itís sharp and I go for a light touch. If you use the Skew as Iíve described, can you explain how you do this ie do you raise the tool rest? Do you use a particular part of the Skew?
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The problem may be related to the angle of the edge as presented to the blank. it is different than a regular scraper and is more like a negative rake scraper.
I would suggest 2 things.
First, get the tool rest as close to the blank as possible but still allow the flat part of the skew to be on the tool rest bar..
Second present the skew at a slight angle with the handle down from center.

And go very slow with very slight cuts.

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Old 07-08-2018, 10:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Make sure that the edge of the skew contacts the workpiece on or below center, never above center.

I believe it is safest to have the handle up, not down (the opposite of what Dale suggests).
Duncan Suss
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Russ Fairfield, who passed away a few years ago wrote in the following link:
Which requires the least sanding?

Originally Posted by RussFairfield:
What is always left out of any comparison of tool finishes is the wood. All things being equal, shear scraping can leave a better surface finish than a skew chisel on the very hard dense and close grained species, but it can't come anywhere close on everything else.

If you really want to see the extreme differences, try using a both scraper and skew on Cocobolo, Blackwood, or Desert Ironwood. You will find that the scraper might be the better tool for these very hard species. At the opposite extreme, the scraper will be a disaster on a soft wood like Douglas Fir or Pine, while a sharp skew can leave a smooth clean cut and polished surface that doesn't need sanding.
(Bold emphasis mine)

A couple of weeks ago, I received some old print outs of lathe tools, and covered in it was skews, sharpness, and grind angles. I have always had a problem with skews. I have had DVDs and viewed youtubes, still can't get the handle of it. Then I changed the angle of the grind a bit and I did several pieces with no problem; next I changed the angle of the grind to just a tad more acute. Bad move. It was difficult again.

Reading what you did - you are using the skew (laying flat) as a negative rake scraper. At this point, the level of the tool rest (in combination with the skew being presented level) also affects its effectiveness. I have several scrapers (not negative rake) just for smoothing CA. This is probably a procedure that you alone must figure out what works best for you.
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Its a dance. You need to learn to work your two hands together. Many times the type of tool rest can present a problem or its shape or design. You want to control the angle of the tool at all times. Think of using a straight razor on your face. The blade has to stay at a certain angle or else it digs into the skin. The angle of the blade has to glide across the face. You have the heel and toe on the razor as you do on a skew. You do not want either of those to get near the face or the pen blank because bad things happen.

The left hand steadys the skew and you finger guides it across the tool rest. Some tool rests allow for a better comfort position for the finger. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find that right rest. I tried the standard rest that come with a jet lathe and got rid of that right away. then tried the round bar and just could not control my tools well because the finger can roll all around the rest. I found my perfect rest when I went to the Robust tool rest. Very comfortable.

The right had pushes the blade or tool across the blank. Your thumb and forefinger on left hand work to keep the angle and depth correct. Many utube videos out there so do some searching and you may find some guidance. The skew is the best tool in the lathe tool box.
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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In that position your skew is now a negative rake scraper. A scraper cuts using a burr so even if your skew is extremely sharp it doesn’t have a burr. You need to raise a very fine burr. Also, negative rake scraper works best if the included angle is between 45* and 70*. On a skew you may or may not be in the range. It will still work, just not as well. Also have the lathe running at a high speed, tool should be held level and at center line.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the suggestions. I definitely don't use the skew with a burr so I guess it is a sort of negative rake scraper. It would appear that different applications can work eg I have used the skew with both heel and toe touching to level spindle work, in fact I find a lot less catches and grabs on spindle turned items than I do with pens. Yesterday I was just finishing a nice Osage Orange pen when I tried to just level the pen a bit and wham, a chunk flies off.
I guess what I really need to know is how to use the skew so I don't get that sort of outcome again, so raise the toolrest, cut right on or just below the centreline. Any other tips? For most of my work I use the skew in conventional mode, it's just that final stage where I want to level things that I would use it as a scraper.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My guess is one of the corners, the heel or toe, is catching. It is most likely the one leading. When using a normal scraper, or a negative rake scraper the corners are slightly curved to avoid this. This is true even on a flat nose scraper as they are not really ground flat across but rather with a very slight curve. If your skew is flat across there is a good chance of the leading corner catching.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I may be doing it all wrong, and someone please correct me if I am. For pen turning (which is the only thing I turn in addition to an occasional bottle stopper), I use a skew to achieve a shearing cut whether I am turning wood, mixed materials, M3, Truestone etc.. I am especially more mindful of the shearing cut during my final passes (right before sanding). While this method may take a longer time to remove material, I thought ( after reading, watching dozens of paid-for, and free videos) that the trade-offs were fewer tool marks, less radial scratches, and a less need for sanding. I don't doubt that in the right hands (certainly not mine) tha all of above can be accomplished with a rusty, flathead screwdriver, but am I mistaken as to skews and shearing (not pealing cuts)? I don't mind being wrong; I do mind continuing to be wrong. Please let me know.
Remember, I am not saying that a skew cannot be used for these other cuts. Thank you.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Still not as consistent with a skew as I would like and can offer no helpful advice but I do recall in one of Captain Eddies videos on skew sharpening he shows touching up the edges of the heal and tie with a slight bevel, as I recall. Could this be beneficial in this application?

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