where's the detail..or am I crazy?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by gljacobs posted 02-15-2011 01:09 AM 1202 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 2686 days

02-15-2011 01:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe problems skew turning

So quick background….

I have a reliant midi beginner lathe, a midi 14” t. h. witherby turning set and some mini hss detail tools.
I post a couple of times when I began and got some really good advice. As well I turned A LOT and got some good advice there as well. the thing is I still wanted to tighten the learning curve so I’ve been reading and watching A TON of videos and articles.
Specifically I bought the old and new Richard Raffen dvd’s and they’re AWESOME.

The catches I make are because of specific things I’m doing, I realize though I need more detail. angle of entry angle of grind in relation angle of rotation in relation of the first to, and so on.
My question is where would I find specific info on the minutia of chisel catches and how to avoid them to tighten the curve and to be able to focus more on designs and less on the techniques?

P.S. I was doing fine for a while and making steady progress and then I had to take a few days off and it seems like I lost some of that progression hence the post. Anybody experience this?

5 replies so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2841 days

#1 posted 02-28-2011 05:26 AM

I experience exactly that every time I touch my lathe. I seldom do anything on it. I mostly scroll. I bought my lathe because it was something I wanted to learn. Well, because I don’t use it much, it seems everytime I do, I kind of have to relearn things such as chisel angle, pressure, things like that. It does get easier and less of a headache the more I do this. So I guess in the end it is just a matter of practice, practice, practice.
It’s like riding a bicycle I think. You learn how. You never exactly forget how. If you don’t do it for a long time though, you do get a little rusty at it.


View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3108 days

#2 posted 02-28-2011 06:52 AM

I could be off the mark here but I think the problem might be that you are over thinking the process. Videos and instruction are very useful, but sometimes they can steer you towards focusing your energy towards thinking about angles, direction, degrees, etc. From my experience so far, work on the lathe is a “feeling” process. When I first started, my hands were tight on the chisel, I was trying to focus on just the perfect angle, and I had many catches, gouges, marks on my pieces. After awhile, I got to the point where I could just feel my way to better cuts. Slow entry into the piece, a little play to get the angle where the chisel just felt good on the piece. My hands are much more relaxed now and I make slight adjustments on the fly.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3050 days

#3 posted 02-28-2011 11:38 PM

Amen to David. Every piece of wood is going to turn differently, every time you sharpen a tool it will handle differently, every time you wake up you’re going to feel differently, and therefore every time you turn on the lathe you’ll get a little different result. Stop concentrating on the minutiae of turning, enjoy the experience, and as David says, “Let it flow”. You’ll enjoy much more success, have more fun, and experience much less frustration. Relax.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 2903 days

#4 posted 03-01-2011 12:14 AM

Long time turner here. I agree with David and Fussy for the most part that you may be overthinking it.

However with that said, technique and experience does matter. The problem with discussing turning in a forum like this is that turning has, literally, an infinite number of variables (which is why it is important to learn how to “feel” what your tool and the piece is doing at any one moment, you’ll only get that from experience and a lot of fancy firewood). Turning falls into two categories generally, face turning and spindle turning. Both categories use different tools, different set ups, and different techniques – and for the most part those things aren’t interchangable. For example, you could use a 1.5” roughing gouge to rapidly shape a bedpost blank to round during spindle turning, but using the same tool for face turning into end grain will result in a violent catch and could even result in broken knuckles and a damaged machine (don’t ask me how I know this).

You didn’t say what, exactly, technique you were attempting, but I’m guessing from your references to “catches” and “curves” that you were trying to learn how to use a skew for spindle shaping. Skew techniques are often the most difficult to master for a new turner. Skew technique depends on a number of variables, such as type of skew (traditional, oblique, oval, etc), how it’s ground, its sharpness, the angle of attack and rotation, the hardness and grain of of the wood, speed of rotation, and so on. Some skews are easier to learn than others. I recommend a .75” oval skew for beginners. And for myself, I prefer the Beecham skewchigouge, which is an incredibly versitile tool, is almost impossible to catch, and lets you do some pretty amazing spindle shaping. I dislike the traditional skew and rarely use one. Learning to use a traditional (angle) skew is difficult without a hands on mentor, but not impossible. It just takes practice, patience, and a lot of throw-away blanks to practice on. When I teach kids, I rip old 2×4’s into 1×1x12 blanks and let them go to town. More than anything, you need to learn how to grind and sharpen a skew correctly, that will go a long, long way toward reducing catches.

Send me a private message via the forum if you want more info and I’ll see if I can walk you through it.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 2686 days

#5 posted 03-01-2011 07:15 AM

First Thank you guys so much for your responses, I’m always grateful to get good advice from those who are more experienced than me.
In regard to the over thinking, I know exactly what’s meant when said that, as a novice, it can become confusing when trying to interpret the hyper detailed instruction from a non responsive video or article. It can be misleading in a way.
Though I think I should clarify a bit more with the specific minutia I was referring to….I have done a decent job(insofar as being a turner for a month and a half or so) in following Richard Raffin’s lead in regard to what his general guidelines are. Then I bought Alan Lacer’s “the Skew” and that was very informative as well.
Now the only area I am still a bit confused on is in using the skew to run down any length that needs to be consistent(i.e. a taper, a cylinder, mixes of the two, etc..)

A quick note to Stonekettle : Yes, I am spindle turning and I’m using a rectangular shaped skew with all four corners rounded(one step further than Alan recommends in the dvd) with a slight curvature to the tip. The skew has a taper in thickness from where it comes from the tang to the tip. I practice in Oak, cherry, walnut, maple, ipe, mahogany, and pine. I find that when practicing in oak for a while and then moving to cherry or walnut or maple control becomes much easier as the cuts are, for lack of a better terminology, “creamier”

Anyway my catching point(pun intended) is in tapering and on rolling cuts.
The biggest problem in the taper(cylinder, etc..)cuts(planing) like I said is consistency and that along with angle of entry of the skew itself(the entire chisel not the blade) there is also the roll and there are endless combinations to those two factors and nothing was covered in the videos in respect to this topic.
Was this because it’s too general or vague to do any good trying to pin down a cause or coarse of correction for digging to deep or feathering out?
As for rolling cuts, I practice the beads exercise a lot and on the right side of a bead(I’m right handed) I tend to have a catch if I’m not hyper diligent in my exacting the utmost control over roll and entry angle.
Is this just the nature of learning and the finicky nature of turning? Because if so WOW!! I just got a WHOLE new appreciation for turners.
Let me know and sorry for the verbose response I tend to throw WAY more detail into things than most….to my girlfriend dismay. : P

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics