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Oval skews -- your insights please?

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Forum topic by ForestGrl posted 06-19-2015 03:59 AM 1296 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


06-19-2015 03:59 AM

Topic tags/keywords: skew oval skew sharpening

The lathe is running finally, and I’m re-learning what little I knew years ago about turning and sharpening. In sorting out the various tools, ran across an unused set (cheapo) that has an oval skew in it. I’ve mostly used a flat skew, a little experience with the radiused skew. After reading Ed Pretty's essay on oval skews, wondering what you guys think of them, and do they really offer anything special.

Also, this 1” skew has a really steeply-ground angle, like 25 degrees. Is that possibly right? Here are pics:

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)


26 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1885 posts in 1599 days


#1 posted 06-19-2015 09:59 AM

Never used one nor want to try too althought own five conventional skews 1/2” through 1 1/4” and one 1/4” round skew that I love. Good luck with it.

-- Bill

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

271 posts in 765 days


#2 posted 06-19-2015 12:41 PM

I read your link to Petty’s article and pretty much agree with him. Mine are flat; a 1/2” rarely used, a 1” used a lot, and a 1.5” used for roughing or peeling.
In Keith Rowley’s video he uses the oval skew a lot, in Alan Lacer’s video he states it is only good for planting tulips IIRC.
The 25 degree angle is off from “normal” of about 40 combined or 20 degree each side. It appears it is not honed so maybe the user tried to get a sharper edge, like a knife, without honing.
I say, keep it, hone it, and give it a try. The lighter weight may work well for delicate work such as finials.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

17163 posts in 2570 days


#3 posted 06-19-2015 06:32 PM

The business edge of the skew is the edge.it comes out the same whether from a rectangular or oval shape. I personally like flat skew but I don’t use the skew exactly as intended.It seems too finicky or erratic a cutting tool unless you are just going around a bead and then I probably do them wrong too. I use it as a groover and a scraper most of the time so the oval would be no advantage to me …maybe a disadvantage!

Cheers,Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#4 posted 06-20-2015 12:51 AM


The 25 degree angle is off from “normal” of about 40 combined or 20 degree each side. It appears it is not honed so maybe the user tried to get a sharper edge, like a knife, without honing.
I say, keep it, hone it, and give it a try. The lighter weight may work well for delicate work such as finials.

- LeeMills

It came out of the set with that angle, I’m using these cheap tools to practice sharpening—hence the rather ugly surface. Really doesn’t seem a good angle to actually use the thing, eh? I might try reshaping it to a better angle, but will follow your suggestion first and see if it’ll be workable. Thanks.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#5 posted 06-20-2015 01:00 AM


Never used one nor want to try too althought own five conventional skews 1/2” through 1 1/4” and one 1/4” round skew that I love. Good luck with it.

- Wildwood

This video has inspired me to learn to use the skew properly (no narrative, starts a little slow, but good stuff down the line. Also, Ed’s article about The Dreaded Skew where he relays a story about teaching a beginning turner to use the skew first, said beginner having never heard any horror stories. Was cruising with the skew in no time with no idea how amazing that was.

I need one larger skew, the two regular ones I have are fairly narrow. Thanks for your input.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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Wildwood

1885 posts in 1599 days


#6 posted 06-20-2015 06:56 PM

Jamie thank you for posting that video very interesting. Learned about oval skews from first addition of this book. Have posted this link couple of times because not only a good book but free too!

http://www.wood.woodtools.nov.ru/books/lathe_book/lathe_book.pdf

He does suggest different bevel angles for an oval skew over factory applied angles.

-- Bill

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ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#7 posted 06-21-2015 12:10 AM

Bill, thanks for that book link, it will be very helpful. I have more rudimentary books, and more advanced books, but the Taunton one will provide “missing links.” I found one more video that I think is very useful for a new turner. I almost didn’t click on the link because it’s from a commercial entity (Craft Supplies), but it is a very organized, thorough presentation on cutting beads, coves, ogees and chamfers using mostly a skew, accompanied by spindle gouge and parting tool. Mr. Batty provides details that I haven’t found in any other videos, and helps me remember what I learned when taking a 2-day course with Bonnie Klein a few years ago.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3127 days


#8 posted 06-21-2015 12:33 AM

FWIW, I have retired my oval skew and have gone to a set of Alan Lacer skews.

I found the oval skew to be hard to sharpen and flimsy, resulting in rough cuts. The only way I could get an acceptable cut was to crank up the speed on the lathe, and take repeated light cuts.

IMO, the heavier, flat skews (like Lacer’s) are easier to sharpen, produce better cuts and are easier to control. I still turn with the lathe cranked up, but I get a good quality finish off the tool with about half the effort.

I was never able to do a peeling cut with the oval … with the flat skews I can get rid of a lot of waste very quickly.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#9 posted 06-21-2015 02:28 AM

Gerry, I suspect I’m headed in your direction on the oval skew. It seems like it was a gimmick to begin with, with more than one disadvantage attached to it!

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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TheDane

4997 posts in 3127 days


#10 posted 06-21-2015 02:38 AM

Gerry, I suspect I m headed in your direction on the oval skew.

Jamie … I have done almost 800 pens for the Freedom Pens project. The first 50 or so were done with a roughing gouge and the oval skew. A little more than three years ago, I switched to the flat skew and use it for both roughing and finish cuts on pens. I use Lacer’s big skew (1-3/8” wide and 3/8” thick) to do pens, and his smaller skew (5/8” wide and 3/8”thick) for smaller stuff. It just takes practice.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1885 posts in 1599 days


#11 posted 06-21-2015 12:06 PM

Jamie enjoyed Allan Batty video thanks for posting.

Couple new skew videos people might like;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cADbgJYeN-k

https://vimeo.com/120186428

-- Bill

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7482 posts in 1471 days


#12 posted 06-21-2015 12:49 PM

As a newbie turner I just want to say thanks for posting this, and for all the videos that have been put up too. I can see that I have such a long way to go!
And I can also see that I have been using some of my tools WAY WRONG !

Gonna add this one to my favs for future reference !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

271 posts in 765 days


#13 posted 06-21-2015 02:17 PM

Verrrrrry Interesting (to quote Shultz).

Wildwood, thanks for the link to Ernie’s book. I read the section on the skew and have to retract my earlier statement on the bevel angle not being normal. Per Ernie a 25 degree angle is normal for the oval skew from the factory but he suggest regrinding it to a 40* or so. Learn something every day..

I watched the first video three times (Woodturning Skew Chisel Techniques and Hand Positioning). Does anyone else find something backwards? The rolling of beads is the exact opposite of all that I have ever heard or saw.
From the title I do wish he had shown the handle hand more. He did get a nice finish with the oval skew.

The second video from Alan Batty is very good.
His son, Stuart, is also excellent and gives clear and concise instruction as Alan does.
Stuart covers some topics in 10-15 minute long videos that other do not. This may be a good one to bookmark for a variety of topics but not necessarily the skew.
Stuart has 30+ videos at Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/woodturning/videos/sort:alphabetical/format:thumbnail

The following are two additional video on catches by Richard Raffan and a two part by Brenden Stemp for anyone needing help understanding the why of skew problems. Once you know the why 90% of problems go away.
Stemp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMIwqFDMIhA
Raffan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOvF5f1phhY

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

271 posts in 765 days


#14 posted 06-21-2015 02:49 PM

As far as I know the Lacer skews are very good, made by Hamlet in the UK.
Packard carries the Lacer 1-3/8 for $125.
For the frugal I suggest the Packard “HD Skew Scraper”; only one side has a bevel when purchased. Yes you will have to ease the edges and regrind the bevel on one side. Packard’s tool are also made by Hamlet, same factory, same steel. The 1-1/2 is $83.50 which is the same thickness and 1/8” wider than the Lacer. The reshaping is really easy if you have a disc or belt sander; it can be done on a grinding wheel but is much more tedious.
http://www.packardwoodworks.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=packard&Category_Code=tools-pkrd-hdsks

I lucked out on a close-out at WoodWodwoker’s Supply of three Left Hand Crown 1.5 X 3/8 (also Sheffied UK). Left hand cuts right to left and most cuts are left to right. At 66% off, or $40 each, I couldn’t resist so keep your eyes open for bargains to repurpose.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View ForestGrl's profile

ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#15 posted 06-21-2015 04:31 PM

Many thanks to Lee and Bill for posting more video links. I am very much a “visual learner” and watching a skilled turner (especially with good explanations) is a great way to understand and learn technique.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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