Versatile skew

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Tiger

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The skew is my goto tool for most of my pen turning. While I feel that I’ve 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 can’t work out why it’s happened. I figure it must be the way l present the tool. It’s sharp and I go for a light touch. If you use the Skew as I’ve 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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Dale Allen

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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.
 

duncsuss

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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).
 

leehljp

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Russ Fairfield, who passed away a few years ago wrote in the following link:
http://www.penturners.org/forum/f28/requires-least-sanding-46171/#post842549

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.
 

jttheclockman

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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.
 

JimB

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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.
 

Tiger

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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.
 

JimB

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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.
 

TonyL

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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.
 

MRDucks2

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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?


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
 

jttheclockman

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TC, you do not say what size skew you are using or I missed it. But the smaller the skew the more chance of heal or toe of tool will catch. Happens alot with 1/2" skews or miniature tools.

Usually with pens the diameter of the cylinder is very small so catches should be rare. I keep the tool rest below center enough so that when I present tool to project it is at center for cutting but the butt end of the tool is well below center. I lift the back of the tool to start cutting. Rub the bevel and start lifting and if tool is sharp it will cut nicely. In other words I am angling up not straight across. I cut with the center of the tool. I found if I keep tool in line with blank it can push forward and grab and thus chip outs. Keep tool steady at all times and do not let it roll one way or other. Straight across with your body following the cut not just your hands. Doing it my way the shearing is less stressful. But again being able to control the tool with both hands is key. You need to be able to ride your finger along the tool rest and the top of the tool rest can not have nicks and gouges in it or the skew will tilt on you when you hit them. Need to watch some videos of others doing this and then practice.

http://jimscarsella.com/uploads/3/4/0/7/3407212/final_aaw_article.pdf


how to make a shearing cut with a skew chisel - Bing video
 
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Tiger

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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.
Jim you are most likely right but I am very careful to not present that leading edge so it's frustrating that despite all the caution I still get the result I got yesterday. I found a youtube video of the cut I'm trying to make. The IAP is also referenced in this video so it could be one of our members. Take a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAY8phk4Uh4 and in particular at 3:06 mins. There's also an interesting cut at 3:21 where the skew is going in reverse, some type of shearing cut, I have used similar with a gouge.
 

Ironwood

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I also use my 3/4" skew on its side to take a CA finish that is too thick down to a closer size ready for sanding. I find I get the best results with the skew freshly sharpened straight off the grinder, when it has been touched up with the fine diamond lap, it doesn't seem to work as well for this job. I think the grinder might leave a more jagged edge at microscopic level which helps to cut/scrape the CA with less pressure, or perhaps it does leave a slight burr, once touched up with the diamond lap, it refines the edge too much and it loses whatever the edge straight off the grinder has.
I don't have to resort to the skew very often, as I take my blanks down to 0.1 - 0.2mm (.004" -.008" )undersize, and as I am putting the coats of CA on, I measure with my callipers, to build up the finish to no more than 0.2mm ( .008" ) oversize, which can be sanded down to size fairly quickly with fresh 400 W&D.
 

PenPal

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Simply wonderful,controlled finishing can be achieved using a reverse angle or negative rake scraper ground to 35 degrees and cut back at 60 or 70 degrees,ever able to give gentle correction to a finish preparation you seek.

Peter.
 

sbwertz

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We don't have a scraper at the center for the blind and use a little half inch skew to do exactly what you are describing. I put the rest as close as i can get it and at such a height that the blade of the skew is at the middle of the blank. Holding the skew absolutely level, as though it were a carbide tool, you can plane out tool marks from the pen blank, swinging the handle as needed to follow the shape of the pen. We also use it for shaping beads. I make a V cut with the tip of the skew then place it flat on the rest and swing the handle until the point of the skew goes into the V cut. Turn it over and swing it the other way. This is the most fool proof way I've found for my blind turners to shape beads.

Mark observed us using a skew this way when he was here last week.
 
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donstephan

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I can think of four possible ways to use the skew.

One is with the handle down, the tool rotated axially so that just one long corner is resting on the tool rest, the bevel rubbing on the wood, the long point above the short point, the cutting edge at a 45 deg angle to the lathe axis, and cutting occurring at or close to the short point. (Really difficult to try to explain)

A second is with the tool more horizontal, the long point down and the short point up, bevel rubbing, cutting occurs at or close to the long point, and the cutting edge is moving towards the headstock or tailstock.

A third is what I have read is a peeling cut - bevel rubbing, the cutting edge is parallel to the axis of the lathe.

The fourth would be a scrape, with the tool essentially horizontal.

I'm not clear which of these four describe how you are trying to use the skew, and I think some of the responses are in terms of one of these uses and some responses in terms of another.
 

Tiger

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TC, you do not say what size skew you are using or I missed it. But the smaller the skew the more chance of heal or toe of tool will catch. Happens alot with 1/2" skews or miniature tools.

Usually with pens the diameter of the cylinder is very small so catches should be rare. I keep the tool rest below center enough so that when I present tool to project it is at center for cutting but the butt end of the tool is well below center. I lift the back of the tool to start cutting. Rub the bevel and start lifting and if tool is sharp it will cut nicely. In other words I am angling up not straight across. I cut with the center of the tool. I found if I keep tool in line with blank it can push forward and grab and thus chip outs. Keep tool steady at all times and do not let it roll one way or other. Straight across with your body following the cut not just your hands. Doing it my way the shearing is less stressful. But again being able to control the tool with both hands is key. You need to be able to ride your finger along the tool rest and the top of the tool rest can not have nicks and gouges in it or the skew will tilt on you when you hit them. Need to watch some videos of others doing this and then practice.

http://jimscarsella.com/uploads/3/4/0/7/3407212/final_aaw_article.pdf


how to make a shearing cut with a skew chisel - Bing video
JT, I use a 1 inch skew and a 1/2 inch skew. I don't get catches when I use it in a planing mode, only when I use it in light scraping mode.
 

Tiger

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Simply wonderful,controlled finishing can be achieved using a reverse angle or negative rake scraper ground to 35 degrees and cut back at 60 or 70 degrees,ever able to give gentle correction to a finish preparation you seek.

Peter.
Controlled finishing is exactly what I'm trying to achieve but rather than have a dedicated scraper I like to do this with a skew if possible.
 

Tiger

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We don't have a scraper at the center for the blind and use a little half inch skew to do exactly what you are describing. I put the rest as close as i can get it and at such a height that the blade of the skew is at the middle of the blank. Holding the skew absolutely level, as though it were a carbide tool, you can plane out tool marks from the pen blank, swinging the handle as needed to follow the shape of the pen. We also use it for shaping beads. I make a V cut with the tip of the skew then place it flat on the rest and swing the handle until the point of the skew goes into the V cut. Turn it over and swing it the other way. This is the most fool proof way I've found for my blind turners to shape beads.

Mark observed us using a skew this way when he was here last week.
Hi Sharon, do you put a radius on that skew or is it a straight grind?
 

Tiger

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I can think of four possible ways to use the skew.

One is with the handle down, the tool rotated axially so that just one long corner is resting on the tool rest, the bevel rubbing on the wood, the long point above the short point, the cutting edge at a 45 deg angle to the lathe axis, and cutting occurring at or close to the short point. (Really difficult to try to explain)

A second is with the tool more horizontal, the long point down and the short point up, bevel rubbing, cutting occurs at or close to the long point, and the cutting edge is moving towards the headstock or tailstock.

A third is what I have read is a peeling cut - bevel rubbing, the cutting edge is parallel to the axis of the lathe.

The fourth would be a scrape, with the tool essentially horizontal.

I'm not clear which of these four describe how you are trying to use the skew, and I think some of the responses are in terms of one of these uses and some responses in terms of another.
Truly versatile, I am interested/troubled by number 4, I'm trying to work out why I have catches/chipout with possibly the least complicated skew technique.
 

jttheclockman

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Well the bottom line is practise makes perfect. That is how you get to Carnegie Hall as they say. Can not tell you any more. Can not show you videos any more you need to just do it. Blow up a blank or two is not the end of the world. We all done it. Go get em :smile: Pep talk is over. welcome to the big leagues.
 

donstephan

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Put a round piece of extra wood in the lathe and practice the flat scrape without having to worry about damaging a pen blank. Approach the wood VERY slowly and gently, should only be fine dust on the bevel.
 

Tiger

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Put a round piece of extra wood in the lathe and practice the flat scrape without having to worry about damaging a pen blank. Approach the wood VERY slowly and gently, should only be fine dust on the bevel.
Have actually done that, I never get a catch doing it with wood I don't care about, only happens when I'm just about to finish a pen :mad:.
 

Dieseldoc

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Tiger:

Skew is a great tool and if you go to you tube and check out Alan Lacer demo's, who is a master of the skew ,you will see and how to get performance out of the tool.
It will be worth your time.

Cheers

Charlie
 

Tiger

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Tiger:

Skew is a great tool and if you go to you tube and check out Alan Lacer demo's, who is a master of the skew ,you will see and how to get performance out of the tool.
It will be worth your time.

Cheers

Charlie
I have his dvd, unfortunately not a lot about how to use it as a scraper effectively.
 

Dieseldoc

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Tiger:

Skew is a great tool and if you go to you tube and check out Alan Lacer demo's, who is a master of the skew ,you will see and how to get performance out of the tool.
It will be worth your time.

Cheers

Charlie
I have his dvd, unfortunately not a lot about how to use it as a scraper effectively.
Tiger:


Come on a skew is not a scraper. Get a scraper if you want to scrape!!!!!
 

leehljp

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:smile: This post kinda' reminds me of that saying: "If all you have is a hammer, you tend to see everything as a nail!" :wink:
 

Tiger

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Tiger:

Skew is a great tool and if you go to you tube and check out Alan Lacer demo's, who is a master of the skew ,you will see and how to get performance out of the tool.
It will be worth your time.

Cheers

Charlie
I have his dvd, unfortunately not a lot about how to use it as a scraper effectively.
Tiger:


Come on a skew is not a scraper. Get a scraper if you want to scrape!!!!!
Yes I realise this!!! But it’s so convenient, already in hand and so easy to hone.
 

leehljp

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Honing is done with a stone or flat sharpening surface; Honing is refined sharpening; Burrs are added with a rod or steel after an edge is created, called burnishing. Honing a burr would remove it.

I have numerous square, rectangular and round shaped flat steel plates roughly 3" X 5" that are used as hand scrapers for smoothing boards and removing scratches instead of using sandpaper to make it very smooth. I use a steel tool (round rod) to burnish the edge which adds a burr to it.

To me, "most" Lathe scrapers should be burnished in this manner, but on my favorite scraper (I made it to my liking, angle and radius.) I don't burnish it, but the edge is SHARP. It was with this tool that I learned to turn blanks to the point that even 600 sandpaper would only add scratches.

I did try burnishing it once when I was in Japan and I didn't like the results. It was good but it was too aggressive. I went back to a flat back for finer control. If one knows what they want and can use it, burnishing a burr to a scraper is not absolutely necessary, but one should be aware that the burnishing adds an effect that might make it work better in many situations. But even this is a personal feel/choice.

Because I use scrapers so efficiently due to experience of 14 years and can control them so well, I use them. Necessity was the mother of inventive use!:D however, I have been intrigued by those that use a skew as a scraper. I would like to learn to use the skew in the way it is primarily intended. The skew will cut soft woods better than the scraper will, and cut down on the need for lots of sanding in those situations.
 
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Tiger

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To me, "most" Lathe scrapers should be burnished in this manner, but on my favorite scraper (I made it to my liking, angle and radius.) I don't burnish it, but the edge is SHARP. It was with this tool that I learned to turn blanks to the point that even 600 sandpaper would only add scratches.
That alone would justify the time needed to become proficient in using the skew in this manner, I should also point out that the skew excels at planing cuts that leave a wonderful surface hence the title of this thread Versatile skew.
 

leehljp

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To me, "most" Lathe scrapers should be burnished in this manner, but on my favorite scraper (I made it to my liking, angle and radius.) I don't burnish it, but the edge is SHARP. It was with this tool that I learned to turn blanks to the point that even 600 sandpaper would only add scratches.
That alone would justify the time needed to become proficient in using the skew in this manner, I should also point out that the skew excels at planing cuts that leave a wonderful surface hence the title of this thread Versatile skew.
In general, That can be said to be true, however in my specific it would not. On harder surfaces/woods, the scraper often does a better job, as referenced in earlier statements from the late Russ Fairfield: "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."

Your idea is that the planing cuts are better, but making planing cuts is not equal with all woods, especially with hard woods and brass, silver, aluminum in the segments. Here is where a scraper will shine over a properly used skew (not talking about using a skew as a scraper - which does not come close in those cases.) Yes, a skew is versatile for sure, but it is not the end all any more than a carbide insert or scraper is an end all.
 

Tiger

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To me, "most" Lathe scrapers should be burnished in this manner, but on my favorite scraper (I made it to my liking, angle and radius.) I don't burnish it, but the edge is SHARP. It was with this tool that I learned to turn blanks to the point that even 600 sandpaper would only add scratches.
That alone would justify the time needed to become proficient in using the skew in this manner, I should also point out that the skew excels at planing cuts that leave a wonderful surface hence the title of this thread Versatile skew.
In general, That can be said to be true, however in my specific it would not. On harder surfaces/woods, the scraper often does a better job, as referenced in earlier statements from the late Russ Fairfield: "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."

Your idea is that the planing cuts are better, but making planing cuts is not equal with all woods, especially with hard woods and brass, silver, aluminum in the segments. Here is where a scraper will shine over a properly used skew (not talking about using a skew as a scraper - which does not come close in those cases.) Yes, a skew is versatile for sure, but it is not the end all any more than a carbide insert or scraper is an end all.
Take your point Hank, just love the way the skew as a scraper can remove the last thousandth or 2 to get that nice fit/transition. Many times I have encountered gnarly timbers and had to resort to Plan B or even C.
 
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