Favorite tool for turning a pen.

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Favorite pen turning tools

  • Round nose scraper

    Votes: 3 4.6%
  • Spindle gouge

    Votes: 5 7.7%
  • Roughing gouge

    Votes: 14 21.5%
  • Skew

    Votes: 28 43.1%
  • Carbide cutters

    Votes: 36 55.4%

  • Total voters
    65

jokker78

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
46
Location
Evadale TX
What is everyones favorite tool for turning pens?
Mine is a round nose scraper.

Can polls be created?
 
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howhale

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
23
Location
Waleska, Georgia
Wow, as a new turner, seeing the number of folks who find the skew their most important tool for pens amazes me. Like many I find the skew a challenge and tend to look for alternatives but to see so many using the skew as their primary, if not only, tool makes me want to understand more about why that is.
 

darrin1200

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2010
Messages
1,055
Location
Lyn, Ontario, Canada
Wow, as a new turner, seeing the number of folks who find the skew their most important tool for pens amazes me. Like many I find the skew a challenge and tend to look for alternatives but to see so many using the skew as their primary, if not only, tool makes me want to understand more about why that is.

Back when I first started, I was self taught in a little 4x5 apartment closet with a mini lathe. I just took what little I remembered from school and played.
Long story short, everyone said the skew was the best for a smooth finish, so I used it. By the time everyone told me that it was really difficult to use, especially for a beginner, I was comfortable with it.

Now I am only talking about straight smooth cuts. When it comes to beads, coves and grooves, the skew still terrifies me. I’ve watched an experienced turner cut a series of bead/balls, along a spindle, in seconds. It is fun to watch.
 

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
13,562
Location
NJ, USA.
I think the main reason a skew is challenging to many people is because of the way it is designed and its cutting edge or edges. It is the only tool that comes to a razor blade edge and can cut from the front or back side. Most tools have a blunt side which is basically the bevel as they call it. When you hear people talk about riding the bevel that is what they mean. Let the bevel glide on the wood and tilt the tool up just enough to engage the cutting edge of the tool in front of it. With a skew this becomes difficult because the bevel is actually a sharp edge and not a blunt edge and when raising the tool to engage the cutting edge you can also push the tool too hard into the wood and get what they call a catch. Now a catch can happen alo at the tips of the tool because they come to a sharp point. The idea here is to use a tool that is wide enough to avoid the tips to come in contact with the wood and cut with the center of the blade. It eliminates one worry about getting a catch. When you get good with the tool then those points come in very handy to do the coves and beads and parting. But it is a tool that will tell you if you have good good tool control or not. Your hands and eye need to work together so much so with a skew. Your touch or presentation to the wood needs to be more exact than other tools. But once you learn this and it does take practice, there is no better tool to learn. yes any tool can turn a pen. You can turn a pen with a parting tool or any tool you have.

I love the skew and this is where it shines, is when I do segmenting work and use materials that can bleed into each other from sanding such as ebony and holly or bloodwood and maple. I do not need to sand the blank at all. Some final passes with a sharp skew takes me right to finishing. Take the time to learn to use it, sharpen it,and shape it. Many different grinds used for different materials. There are a ton of videos on the net showing all this. But if you have the chance to watch someone who knows how to use it up close is the best way to learn the tool. Woodturning clubs are a great place for this. Best tool in the tool box for a turner.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
7,221
Location
Tunica, MS,
I use a scraper that is not round, but slightly angled, which was not included in the list above. Not all scrapers are round nosed.

I made my own scrapers, which are like a radiused insert but canted at a slight angle so that presentation is not straight on - not perpendicular to the blank, but presented at an angle that is natural to my grip and wrist. Much less fatigue that way.
 
Last edited:

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
13,562
Location
NJ, USA.
I use a scraper that is not round, but slightly angled, which was not included in the list above. Not all scrapers are round nosed.

I made my own scrapers, which are like a radiused insert but canted at a slight angle so that presentation is not straight on - not perpendicular to the blank, but presented at an angle that is natural to my grip and wrist. Much less fatigue that way.
Boy I remember the tool of choice back in the day was the Spindlemaster for turning pens. This tool was touted alot when I first broke in and have a couple but have not used them much. It was a scrapper tool

https://www.amazon.com/Sorby-Micro-Spindlemaster-Tool/dp/B003A00JOY
 
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