Your Favorite Turning Tool

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Forum topic by CharlieM1958 posted 12-30-2009 12:33 AM 1657 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16281 posts in 4419 days

12-30-2009 12:33 AM

As some of you may have read, I just got my first lathe. So far, all I’ve done is play around with some spindle work. I have an 8-pc. set of the most common tools, and in trying my hand with them it seems like the skews are the most versatile of the lot. I can produce a wide variety of effects by slightly altering the position of the cutting surface.

I was just interested in the perspective of experienced turners. Is my first impression valid, or will I find myself relying more on a differnt tool as I gain experience?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

13 replies so far

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3659 days

#1 posted 12-30-2009 12:40 AM

If your doing well with a skew as a beginner, then your doing really well… For the first 6 months after I got my lathe, I got nothing but catches with my skew.

I really like my spindle gouges though.

-- San Diego, CA

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3432 days

#2 posted 12-30-2009 12:48 AM

I got the 8pc set, along with a set of Versa Chisels, and Roughing Gouges. From a making things round perspective, the 1.5” roughing gouge kicks tail. But… I really like the Versa Chisels… They Do pretty much the same work as a spindle gouge and a skew, all combined into one tool, with no catches on the *&#$ skew…

As you may be able to tell, my least favorite turning tool is the skew…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3569 days

#3 posted 12-30-2009 12:51 AM

A lot of turners think the Skew is the toughest tool to use, like you that was the main one I started using when I was learning and it has always been easy and one of my favorites. I bought a 3/4” Sorby oval skew that is awesome. My favorite is a Sorby multi tip, I think it is called a shear scraper. I have the straight one and have been making some of my own tips for it.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3759 days

#4 posted 12-30-2009 01:04 AM

When I got my first small lathe like yours, I BOUGHT THE 3 PIECE SET OF Benjamin’s Best. I still use them along with my regular set. The thing to remember is to keep those tools sharp.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View CanadianWoodChuck's profile


402 posts in 4114 days

#5 posted 12-30-2009 02:29 AM

Charlie: You’ll need everything in the set. I’m certainly not a seasoned turner, but I have made about 400 pens. I like to try different tools just to see what I can do with them. The bulk of the work is done with the roughing gouge when turning pens anyway. Enjoy your lathe! Bruce

-- Wood Chuck (Bruce)

View MrWoody's profile


325 posts in 3975 days

#6 posted 12-30-2009 06:53 AM

Charlie, what tool I favour depends on what I’m doing. The skew is a very versatile tool used exclusively
for spindle work. Bowl gouges will work on spindles but because of their greater mass are good for hollowing
bowls. Spindle gouges are usually made of thinner material and are generally not well suited to hollowing bowls. Then add in your own personal preference. As you use the tools, you will develop a personal preference. After some instruction, I rarely use my roughing gouge for spindles under 1” Dia.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3631 days

#7 posted 12-30-2009 08:38 AM

I like the skew the best. I use it a lot and have been having some prety good luck with it. Not too many catches.

-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3614 days

#8 posted 12-30-2009 03:41 PM

Charlie of the most basic tools the gouge and the skew are most common and will be used the most often. They can both be used for the same things; it becomes a matter of preference by the craftsman. When I learned how to turn my mentor told me that “I need to get used to using just a gouge”, in his opinion it was the most versatile tool in your arsenal. With that being said I still use “Gouges” more often than any other tool. Here comes the interesting part I have various bowl gouges, spindle gouges and roughing gouges for various jobs. Do you need all of them, NOPE but it does make certain jobs easier having a variety.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4419 days

#9 posted 12-30-2009 03:47 PM

Thanks for all the responses, guys. I’m starting to see how this turning thing can become addictive.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3614 days

#10 posted 12-30-2009 04:13 PM

Charlie you will find it rather enjoyable when you “HAVE TO” buy that new turning tool to make your next project :)

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3275 days

#11 posted 12-30-2009 04:27 PM

I really like my Easy Rougher. It has a carbide cutter that you do not have to sharpen and it is very easy to use. It is always the first tool I grab when starting a project. It saves a lot of time. A video demo is available at

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ShawnH's profile


90 posts in 4276 days

#12 posted 12-30-2009 04:29 PM

I just got the Sorby versa chisel, and it is great for pen turning. It is easy o sharpen, leaves a great surface behind, and the small one I bought didn’t cost very much. Turning is very addictive and a ton of fun. Tooling up to do all the project you want could break the bank though. At least my bank anyhow. Have fun and keep turning.

-- ShawnH "In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3487 days

#13 posted 12-30-2009 09:42 PM

Charlie, years ago, I used the skew almost exclusively. It takes a light touch, but I rarely got a catch. When I got back into turning last year, I started using the roughing gouge and the round nose scraper for most of my work. I guess it comes down to what works for the individual.


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