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Old 04-14-2018, 02:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What tool to use?

I'm teaching an 11 year old to turn pens. She does real well with a rough gouge. What tool should I give her to finish off the pen? I use a skew, so I know that won't work to well for her.
Years ago when I learned to turn, I had tried a spindle gouge. I didn't really like it, so viewed the Alan Lacer skew chisel video about 20 times and then started learning.
Bill Thompson
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Old 04-14-2018, 02:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I use an HSS scraper with a slight radius which does the same as about a 4 inch radius (almost square) carbide insert. If you have a carbide insert tool, that would be ideal for her - A large (5/8 or 3/4) round carbide insert, or 1/2 inch square or radius insert.

HSS scrapers and carbide inserts do better on harder woods and stabilized woods than on softer woods. But on softer woods, skews do better.
Hank Lee

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!
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Old 04-14-2018, 02:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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When I was in junior high school wood shop back during the last century, they would only let us use scrapers. The theory was that they were safer for learners.

So I tend to agree with Hank - a round nose scraper, or a large diameter round carbide tool would probably be best.
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Old 04-14-2018, 02:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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+1 on the carbide. I use a 15mm round carbide 99% of the time start to finish for pens. It works on everything from wood to acrylics, Inlace and deer antler. I turn pens at +/- 2400 RPM and light smooth cuts. Works for me....
Rick - Tampa, FL
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Old 04-14-2018, 02:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. I do have a scraper, somewhere. I'll dig it out and let her have a go. When she completes a pen, I will post some pictures. Right now, she does about 90 per cent of the turning. We covered sanding and I showed her how to do a CA finish. She did really well with both. Just a little help from me. Can't wait to have her try the scraper and do a entire pen by herself.
This is such an awesome place. Again, thanks for all the help. Hopefully next weekend we can post a picture or two.
Bill Thompson
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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"I use a skew, so I know that won't work to well for her."

I don't follow your logic. That tool would be my recommendation. Very versatile and can be used as a scraper until skills advance.
Mountain Home, Arkansas
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." from Animal Farm by George Orwell
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default spindlemaster

One tool you do not hear much of any more but was all the rage back in the day for pen turning was a spindlemaster. great for beginners.

John T.
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Using a skew as a scraper would work, and it would give you a chance to show how to use it properly. Besides most amateurs use the skew more as a scraper than the correct way.
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Old 04-14-2018, 06:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Why can’t she use the roughing gouge? You can turn pens start to finish with one. Some folks say they don’t get a smooth enough finish with it but that is because they are holding it wrong. Many people approach with the roughing gouge going straignt into the wood. That is not the way. You should be holding it at an angle (handle to the left or right) so the cutting edge is leading. You can get a VERY smooth cut with a roughing gouge that is held correctly.

A couple weeks ago I taught a 14 year old to turn pens at an after school program. 100% with a roughing gouge because that is what she was comfortable with. After 3 pens she was turning pens without any supervision.

BTW, at the same after school program another instructor was teaching making a weed pot to another 14 year old. Her first tool was a roughing gouge to get the blank round. Then the instructor showed her the skew. NO PROBLEM! It was her first experience turning. They don’t know the skew is sometimes hard to learn so they don’t think about that the way we do. They just do it. If you are comfortable using the skew then show it to her.
West Henrietta, NY
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I started with a skew, not knowing that it was supposed to be difficult. I had used almost zero wood working tools, so it may not difficult for her to learn - nothing to unlearn.

Non Impedite Raditioni Cogitationis.
(Unencumbered by the thought process.)
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