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Thread: Tool rec's

  1. #1

    Tool rec's

    I am the proud owner of a used Jet VS lathe. Couldn't pass it up for $500.

    But I have no tools!!

    So I'm looking for practical advice on 1) what is a good basic set and 2) some brand recommendations.

    I will be doing just basic turning for a while.
    I'm willing to pay for good quality tools.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Thompson tools are the best without being the most expensive. Harbor Freight tools are best for learning how to sharpen. That won;t take long but you will always be turning with the best without learning how to sharpen on them. Sharpening is learning a light touch and body English.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Be selective on the Harbor Freight tools, they have two sets on that's bad and one thats sort of ok. I believe that these are the sort of ok ones:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/8-piece...set-69723.html
    The Penn State "Benjamins Best" are in roughly the same class without the uncertainty and allow you to buy onsies instead of a set so can actually be a bit cheaper.

    I probably wouldn't bother with the thompsons to start - you burn up a lot of steel on the sharpening learning curve. Consider that a 2" diameter piece of wood spinning at 2000 rpm is presenting roughly 1050 feet per minute of surface or about a mile of surface every 5 minutes to the chisel and you can see how you can quickly use up a lot of chisel time compared to flat work I do have one thompson gouge and it is indeed very nice - but I burned up about 1/2 of a BB gouge before I bought it (and at this point I'd but more thompson but I don't regret any of the BB purchases either since they're still earning their keep).

    Do get an 8" low speed (1750 rpm) grinder with white wheels as well it makes the sharpening a bit less tool hungry. The current value buy is the $100-140 rikon low speed.

    As far as chisels it'll be hard to get three turners to agree on a starter set so take this for what its worth. My choices would be (based on what I use):
    • 3/4" rouging gouge
    • 3/8" spindle detail gouge
    • 3/4" or 1" skew
    • 5/8" bowl gouge
    • 3/8" bowl gouge (this is also nice for detail spindle work as its very forgiving, hence two bowl gouges, I use both of them on bowls and spindle work - especially things like turned spoons)
    • you'll eventually want a couple of scrapers - I use these a fair bit on the difficult parts of bowls: http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCSIDE2.html
    • If you're doing pens or really small stuff a smaller detail gouge or another detail gouge you can grind to a sharper point might be useful (I've ground some "skew gouges" out of allen wrenches that would quite nicely for tiny detial work as well) but I mostly use the skew for that.



    I would also add to that list:
    • a set of calipers
    • a steb center drive center (more forgiving to start) I actually have a larger (1") and a small (1/2")
    • if you don't have a face plate you'll want a face plate. something in the 3" range should handle pretty much most of what you want to do.
    • You'll eventually want a chuck. Pick a chuck system because you'll want different jaw sizes/types and its nice to have a couple of chuck bodies you can use for all of the jaws. I've been pretty happy with the supernova2 from http://www.teknatool.com/ - they often have sales on refurbs http://www.novatoolsusa.com/Recondit...oducts_c10.htm - my one SN2 is a refurb and looks just the same as the full priced one.


    There's more of course But that would get you started.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post

    I probably wouldn't bother with the thompsons to start - you burn up a lot of steel on the sharpening learning curve.
    I beg to differ. As I pointed out, use the inferior tools to learn to sharpen. Use the good tools to learn to turn. Doug's tools come awesomely sharp to begin with. At least you will know what a good sharp tool looks like and how it cuts wood. Then work on your sharpening until you can get close to that. Ever pro turners take years and years to wear out a turning tool.

    The inferior tools may frustrate you, so don't go there. Especially since you indicated you thought well enough to consider good tools to begin in your original post.
    Last edited by Carol Reed; 02-24-2015 at 09:51 PM.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  5. #5
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    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,020
    I'm gonna side with Carol on this one. Why wait for the good tools? I may be a rarity, but I never ended up losing a lot of steel on any of my turning tools when I learned to sharpen. With a sharpening jig like a Wolverine, there's no reason to expect to eat up a lot of metal if you're paying attention. I went the standard route of buying cheap tools to learn to sharpen, then mid-grade tools, then eventually Thompsons. My cheap tools still have the vast majority of their original steel, and the money spent on mid-grade stuff was sort of wasted.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Another vote for the Harbor Freight set to start with. I picked up a set a few years ago when two top-notch turners I knew in Florida bought them on sale. There are other brands out there that have great reputations and you could grow into them as you learn and develop your skill. Others mention sharpening and I can attest that the main talent I've developed in turning is how to sharpen my tools. I have the Wolverine system but there are other systems and techniques that work well also.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    The Penn State "Benjamins Best" are in roughly the same class without the uncertainty and allow you to buy onsies instead of a set so can actually be a bit cheaper.

    As far as chisels it'll be hard to get three turners to agree on a starter set so take this for what its worth. My choices would be (based on what I use):
    • 3/4" rouging gouge
    • 3/8" spindle detail gouge
    • 3/4" or 1" skew
    • 5/8" bowl gouge
    • 3/8" bowl gouge (this is also nice for detail spindle work as its very forgiving, hence two bowl gouges, I use both of them on bowls and spindle work - especially things like turned spoons)
    • you'll eventually want a couple of scrapers - I use these a fair bit on the difficult parts of bowls: http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCSIDE2.html
    • If you're doing pens or really small stuff a smaller detail gouge or another detail gouge you can grind to a sharper point might be useful (I've ground some "skew gouges" out of allen wrenches that would quite nicely for tiny detial work as well) but I mostly use the skew for that.



    I would also add to that list:
    • a set of calipers
    • a steb center drive center (more forgiving to start) I actually have a larger (1") and a small (1/2")
    • if you don't have a face plate you'll want a face plate. something in the 3" range should handle pretty much most of what you want to do.
    • You'll eventually want a chuck. Pick a chuck system because you'll want different jaw sizes/types and its nice to have a couple of chuck bodies you can use for all of the jaws. I've been pretty happy with the supernova2 from http://www.teknatool.com/ - they often have sales on refurbs http://www.novatoolsusa.com/Recondit...oducts_c10.htm - my one SN2 is a refurb and looks just the same as the full priced one.


    There's more of course But that would get you started.
    Thank you for listing the type of projects. When I attended a local event, I was receiving different recommendations by everybody, without listing the types of projects they use them on. (makes it hard to be informed)
    I was looking at the Benjamin's best, based on several recommendations (as well as some higher end ones), but stumbled upon a deal when a turner friend, gave it up due to health. I still need to get a bowl gauge, and BB is sold at my local wood store, so I will get that to support them.

    On the HF list, I have heard that they have (and sometimes still do) had multiple sets, and one was better then the other. (one was even compared to the BB set at one point) I didn't keep track of that, since I got my tools the prior mentioned method.

  8. #8
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    Heh - as I noted you won't get any three turners to agree on this

    I should also note that the skew is somewhat controversial. Many turners (who are MUCH better than me) never use them and are quite happy with it. My personal take is if you can master the skew all the rest are easy

    Be interested to know what you picked up from your friend. Some of the older tools are real gems and others aren't so much or sometimes require a bit of a gentler touch.

    I mostly agree with Brian Havens video below on tool choice, although I include the roughing gouge because its an easy way to get some early success easily. Its a worthwhile video to watch anyway because he does a rather staggering number of different cuts with the tools in a very short period of time so its an interesting overview of what they can do (although I wouldn't suggest attempting some of the cuts out of the gate).

  9. #9
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    On the skew issue Richard Raffans video explains a lot of the problems folks have with the skew fairly clearly, or at least it was some help for me:


  10. #10
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    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    I've had some Benjamin's Best tools and they are a good value for the money. The Harbor Freight HSS set I bought when I first started has been, too.

    As Ryan said, some turners are good with skews and others aren't. I'm a pretty experienced turner and the skew is my least-used tool, because I still have not learned to use one consistently. That said, I agree with Ryan...the skew is a good tool to learn early, since it helps facilitate the learning of the other tools. (Keep in mind I primarily turn bowls and hollow vessels, not spindle work where a skew would be more useful.)

    In his earlier post Ryan mentioned that eventually you might want a couple of scrapers. I use thick round and square-tipped scrapers on virtually everything I turn. Other guys never use them. As you've probably figured out by now, there are pretty much no singular answers in turning.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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