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Old 03-08-2015, 01:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Mini or Midi Carbide Cutter for Pens??

I am a disaster at sharpening anything. I can take a new knife, never used and sharpen it to a dull state. So here I am a new wood lathe and looking at the carbide cutters. I can't see wasting my time sharpening so I think I will go with carbide even though I have a set of regular HSS. I am down to deciding if I should get a Mini or Midi sized cutter. I plan on doing mostly pens and small projects. Pen competition in my area (360 miles to the next biggest city), the guy does all wood pens so am thinking I will go acrylic when I get wood down right. The shorter Mini looks good, but thinking I would get a bit more range with the Midi and still be able to do the pens with no trouble. Or would I be better off with the shorter Mini?? Your thoughts?? Thank you in advance.
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Good morning --

Choice is all about style of turning. Both will work well. The smaller cutter, especially if you "break the rules" and use it as a bevel riding shear cutter will allow more details in smaller spaces.

The larger cutter will present an easier way to do long sweeping curves with a bit of loss of fine details.

No bad choices here -- depending on where you are headed, marginally better opportunities, and you will likely have both when the shaving clear over time.


P.S Glad to see another turner from Alaska
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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My advice is learn and then learn some more to sharpen HSS tools. Carbide tools is not the save all answer. You will get a much cleaner cut with HSS tools if sharpened correctly. Carbide cutters are nothing more than scrappers. They get expensive. Yes they can be touched up with a hone but you need to know how to do that also. Sharpening tools along with learning how to use them is all part of turning. You don't go into a hobby or a job and go at it haphazardly. That is how you get hurt. Learn the equipment. You will not be wasting your time as you put it.

There are a ton of videos on utube that show how to sharpen tools. There are a ton of videos offered for free or minimal cost from turning forums. The answer to your question it does not matter at all if if you are going to do just pens. But the first time you start doing larger work you are going to wish you had some beef behind your tools. They will chatter and be hard to control. Bigger is better.

So to sum up did I say learn to sharpen your HSS tools??? Get yourself a slow speed grinder with some nice white friable wheels. There are plenty of jigs out there that can be attached to the grinder or just used in conjunction with a grinder that take all the guess work out of sharpening tools. Over time though you will want to experiment with different grind shapes and angles to give you max cutting abilities. Plenty of videos out there.

By the way WELCOME to the site. You may want to pop over to the introduction forum and give a little background about yourself. It sort of is frowned upon if you do not at least tell us who you are. Good luck and happy turning.
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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John -- you said "Carbide cutters are nothing more than scrappers."

If you use them with the bevel riding as a shear cutter, they are something more. That is not how the instructions read for the flat cutters, but it works well for details. A bit tricky learning, and I suspect that is why the sellers do not advertise the use that way.
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenV View Post
John -- you said "Carbide cutters are nothing more than scrappers."

If you use them with the bevel riding as a shear cutter, they are something more. That is not how the instructions read for the flat cutters, but it works well for details. A bit tricky learning, and I suspect that is why the sellers do not advertise the use that way.
It also depends on the tool they are mounted to. Some tools will not allow you to ride the bevel. For the most part they are scrapers and from what this person is saying he does not even know what ride the bevel means. Just a vibe I picked up from the post.
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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First, I wouldn't stop trying to learn how to sharpen HSS. This is something that while tricky isn't impossible. YOU can do it.

While the smaller cutter will allow for small details.......I would start with the larger of the two and then if you want, you can always get the smaller ones. OR have just one custom small detailer made to you order.

This is all part of the 'growing' factor we talk about here. As you do more, your skills will grow and you will want to do better and better. Good luck.
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have two mini carbide tools - a round and an R2. I use the R2 almost exclusively on pens. I use both on bottle stoppers and other small projects along with other tools depending on the shapes that I want.

I debated between the mini & midi size tools also. I finally settled on the minis because I liked the lighter feel. They work fine for me - others prefer the midis for equally valid reasons. Either will work great for pens & other small projects - it's largely a matter of personal preference.

I also have a set of HSS tools and everything that's been said about them above is perfectly valid. I'm a lousy sharpener also - started with HSS and had trouble keeping them short and getting consistent results. Switching to carbide certainly made the hobby much more enjoyable for me.

At the same time, I have continued to practice using and sharpening my HSS tools and I am getting better and more comfortable with them.
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenV View Post
John -- you said "Carbide cutters are nothing more than scrappers."
If you use them with the bevel riding as a shear cutter, they are something more. That is not how the instructions read for the flat cutters, but it works well for details. A bit tricky learning, and I suspect that is why the sellers do not advertise the use that way.
+1 on Ken's comment, also I regularly use my 15mm rounded cabide by rolling the tool up on its side as a skew. I will take relatively deep cuts as a skew then lay it flat to do some fine scraping as a finisher.

Edit:Forgot to address the OPs original question, I recommend the midi size, it seems the most universal to me.
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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I am more concerned that if you are not willing to take the time to learn how to properly sharpen your tools you may also be taking other short cuts. Turning can be very dangerous, even if you are just turning pens. Dull tools are dangerous. Carbide tools are dangerous. Your lathe and improper technique is dangerous.

Learning is all part of the process. Be a student first and a pen maker second. Stay safe.
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Old 03-08-2015, 06:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Sharpening is MUCH easier with the right equipment. I was lousy at it before I received the Rikon Slow speed grinder and wolverine jig and skew attachment. I am MUCH MUCH better now. :)
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