What to tell new turners?

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Hubert H

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Jul 13, 2010
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Wolford, ND
If you have a new turner ask what is the most important skill he or she should learn about turning, how would you respond?

I think taking the time to learn the skill of turning with a skew would benefit a new turner. I wish I had learned that earlier.
(Still learning) Also, it seems to me the importance of using sharp turning tools cannot be overly stressed. So, I believe learning how to sharpen the tools you use is very important. So many things to learn – what do you put at the top?
 
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DrD

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Jun 26, 2019
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Columbus, Mississippi
I have sharpened my oval skew back almost to the nub. Now I unscrew a hex screw, lift and rotate the cutter 90 deg, or replace as needed, tighten said screw and continue turning. First thing I would tell a new turner is to check out Tshadow, Ez Wood and the vids on CSUSA about using carbide tools.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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Tunica, MS,
1. Sharp tools, 2. At the beginning -> make two or three pens to get it into your blood, THEN Practice, practice, practice each step repetitively for a day or two. That will cut down a month or two of learning from mistakes.

3. Learn from observation, not opinion, ask questions and check the answers.

4. Learn TBC as soon as possible.

5. Lots of great companies to order and buy from but listen to the ones who TURN pens. You can save lots of money on unnecessary items that can go to more pens.

I don't agree with the skew per se. It works well for some, or maybe many. I will put my scraper up against anything. The importance is learning to use one tool WELL, and then others as a good assortment of tools.

I have been trying off and on to learn the skew for 15 years and can't get it to not catch, either on the bottom of the heel, in the middle or where ever. I have had two DVDs from the masters and still can't do it. I have watched numerous YouTubes and still can't do it. I guess I have spent a total of 60 - 70 hours on it in the past 15 years. I have ground the skews to different angles precisely and honed to razor sharpness. Still no go for me. BUT, I am contented with the precision that I can do with a scraper. Nothing hard about turning .001 or .002 off for a perfect match over and over. And nothing hard about using the scraper for making a blank so smooth that anything less than 2000 grit sandpaper would rough it up.
 
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howsitwork

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Jul 9, 2016
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Thirsk
This was my first thought, but after a year and a half, I'm still learning it. Have gotten better, but still learning.
You are not alone . 20 years and many, many jigs later , I am also still learning it ! To paraphrase the words of Stuart Batty “ i now have a choice of bevels to use “
 

Jonkou

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May 1, 2020
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Alton Bay, NH
This was my first thought, but after a year and a half, I'm still learning it. Have gotten better, but still learning.
Been turning for 30+ years, have gotten better but still learning.
Newbie advice:
- Safety always, eye protection at a minimum, face shield recommended while learning. Dust collection and respiratory protection should be mandatory.
- Learn the art/craft of turning and sharpening, can’t do one without the other, from accomplished turners. You’ll learn more from a professional in an interactive workshop than you will in a year of watching YouTube.
- Join a local turning club and hook up with the experienced folks. No be scared to ask, most turners are happy to share what they know.
- Buy only quality tools and equipment and stick with the basics. You get what you pay for. Buy a new tool only when you can’t get the results you want with what you have. As you gain experience you will amass a collection.
- Practice lots with a focus on tool control rather than making something specific. Chuck up some fire wood and just make shavings concentrating on what it takes to make the tool cut efficiently. Once you are comfortable with a particular tool you can turn anything with it.
- Have fun and don’t take it too serious, it’s just a piece of wood.
 

mmayo

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Jan 12, 2013
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Tehachapi, CA
I met a new turner while working at the artist cooperative- the Gallery n Gifts. He asked about pens and said he has made a few slimline pens. I gave him a card and offered free blanks. He called and was offered a large full box of blanks and wood that could be cut to blanks. He has limited space so he took only ten of the several hundred. He got an acrylic acetate blank. I ended up giving him a new package of 5 minute epoxy as he indicated he was using thin CA to glue in tubes. I may have gotten that wrong, but epoxy beats even thick CA to me. He has a standing offer to flush trim his blanks on my Rick Herrell sanding jig (lathe mounted). He is the invited over whenever he wishes.

Things I said to him to ether do or aspire to do:

Join IAP first
TBC bushings ASAP
Sanding flush trimming
Drill on the lathe
Try acrylic

Pay it forward...I got it years ago in a small filled flat rate box from I believe the maker of Cactus Juice. It felt great and I’ll never forget his kindness.
 

jamfishpens

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Jul 31, 2020
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Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
If you are new to woodworking, get training around powertools, then get comfortable with troubleshooting/repairing your own lathe and cutting tools.

I feel like thats what stopped me a lot of the time, so getting into a groove where it doesn't discourage from getting to fixing so you can turn is important.
 

Roger Wilco

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Jan 7, 2019
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Southern California
I'm a new turner and I went with carbide so that I wouldn't need to purchase/find space for/learn how to sharpen. I've only use HSS in the couple classes I took so I didn't have to "relearn" anything. I wonder...to the guys that have used HSS tools and ALSO use carbide. Is there any reason NOT to go all carbide?
 

qquake

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Feb 8, 2004
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Northern California
I'm a new turner and I went with carbide so that I wouldn't need to purchase/find space for/learn how to sharpen. I've only use HSS in the couple classes I took so I didn't have to "relearn" anything. I wonder...to the guys that have used HSS tools and ALSO use carbide. Is there any reason NOT to go all carbide?
I use both. I originally learned (self taught) with HSS, then in the last year or two have started using carbide. It was only recently that I learned how to do "shearing" cuts with carbide, so I'm still learning. I've found (for me at least) that some materials cut better with one or the other. And there are times I'll use both on the same project.
 
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