turning problems: All advise VERY welcome

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Forum topic by gljacobs posted 02-04-2011 04:57 PM 1643 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 3692 days

02-04-2011 04:57 PM

O.k. so I started turning a little while ago (almost two weeks), and some questions are starting to present themselves with all th problems I’ve encountered.

First is the skew…yes the tricky skew.
I’ve heard it refered to as the “plane “of turning. I assume it’s because of the quality of the surface it leaves. Anyway I received it with a VERY sharp angle so I changed it to a steeper angle and life was swell.
Then I experimented with a slightly sharper angle, albeit not as sharp as the original angle, and the horrors began. Catches and gouges galore.

At first I thought it was my technique, and I’m sure it was, because the steeper angle seemed easier to work with and if I knew the techniques I probably could have worked with this shallower angle. So I then reground the angle back to a steeper pitch and voila’, easy cheesy (or at least better, more progressive practicing, I still can’t turn a perfect cylinder with the skew although I’ve come close once)

So I guess my question is what’s a good happy medium ground for the skew that is decently workable or what are some angles you guys work with? Also what are some good pointers as to avoiding catches and gouges(especially in peel cuts)

I have other questions and I will ask them later in this thread once this topic is address as to avoid a jumping of topics and a more focus discussion.

Thanks in advance

p.s. are there any good videos on that show and explain good technique with the skew and spindle gouges(i.e…angle of skew on the work(rotation), angle of chisel to the work (laterally),
pivot of chisel (vertically), the combinations in action)

12 replies so far

View DeputyDawg's profile


196 posts in 4970 days

#1 posted 02-04-2011 05:31 PM

First of all let me welcome you to LumberJocks
I also have just started turning and been able to have wonderful help from a fellow LJ (Scrapy) here in Phoenix Arizona. There are plenty of Tutorial videos on turning. One sourse is UTube. Richard Raffan has a bunch of video’s on there that are very informative. Just pull up his name and there they are. Have fun, don’t get frustrated, and got a question ask a LumberJock they are always there to help.

-- DeputyDawg

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 4187 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 05:38 PM

One thing that has helped me is always run your tool down hill never up hill ( from the largest diameter to the smallest). Also keep the cutting edge of your skew angled to the horizontal plane of your work piece and lead with the heal of the cutting edge and the tip following.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Bertha's profile


13613 posts in 3697 days

#3 posted 02-04-2011 05:41 PM

The skew is my nemesis. I’m no better with it than I was five years ago. The only thing that even remotely helped me was moving to a massive 1 inch skew with a long, beefy handle. I brace firmly against the rest and ease the skew into the cut, ever so slightly. It’ll catch out of nowhere, rattle me to the point of tremulousness, and I’ll put it down. I’ve had much greater luck with a “skewchigouge” which seems more forgiving. However, mine is a bit diminutive & I haven’t found a beefy one yet. I also try the skew at slower speeds, which may or may not be recommended. Good luck with that little devil.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View lew's profile (online now)


13308 posts in 4760 days

#4 posted 02-04-2011 05:57 PM

DeputyDawg has some good advice about You Tube. Here is a link to get you started

Just keep practicing, it will eventually come to you. I found the oval skew a little easier to use.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 3697 days

#5 posted 02-04-2011 06:34 PM

I used this DVD for guidance but have spent more than two weeks at the lathe practicing.

The Skew Chisel with Alan Lacer

-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 3692 days

#6 posted 02-04-2011 07:13 PM

Thanks for the link lew and thanks for the heads up on alan’s video…it looks very informative.
I also want to thank everyone else for their input. I feel so very new and you guys are so inviting and make it feel comfortable here. Thanks again.

I think the biggest problem I have in regard to the skew is repetitive mistakes compound my frustration with every one.
Brakes are a must.
It’s interesting how much psychology plays a part in any practice. If I’m clouded by frustration I WON’T produce anything I’m proud of.
My technique gets shot and everything seems sloppy and not worth it.
So I stop get some coffee, calm down and continue with quality and confidence in mind.
Does any one else get this feeling?

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4079 days

#7 posted 02-04-2011 08:07 PM

I think the best advice I can give you is don’t skew for while. You have plenty to do to perfect your technique with the gouges and scrapers. Get real comfortable with them before you attempt skewing.

A second piece of advice is to look at the easy rougher.

It is called a “rougher” but you can use it for many applications and, as the name implies, it is easy to use. In fact, it is very easy to use. Note that you do not have to sharpen it. When the cutter gets dull you rotate it for a fresh edge. I’ve heard it said that you can get about 20 hours of turning per edge. After using up all 4 edges, buy a new cutter for a modest price.

Check out the videos at this website and let me make 2 comments. They imply that the easy rougher is just for roughing. That’s not true. There are several variations of the tools available. Start with the easy rougher and don’t consider the other options until you have used the rougher for a while. In my case, I eventually added an easy finisher, but I only have 2 models and I don’t need any more.

I use this tool for the initial roughing and I also use it for relatively fine finishing work. This tool, plus a good scraper and I can get my projects ready for sanding, starting with a 220 grit. Some guys are so good with a skew that they start sanding at 320 grit, but that takes years or practice.

Ever since I acquired my easy rougher I have not used a skew.

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

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4113 days

#8 posted 02-04-2011 08:53 PM

I use the skew mostly for cleaning work and not shaping. If you are trying to make a cylinder, the impression I am getting is that you are using the skew for shaping work and I agree with Rich that a roughing gouge can be used for more than described. Scrapers can also shape while leaving a clean surface. I have a couple round noses I use for that purpose. The skew can be challenging and I have had my ups and downs with angle experiments. I do know that if you round the farthermost edges you get less catches and it is a little easier to work with.


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

View hairy's profile


3210 posts in 4537 days

#9 posted 02-04-2011 09:33 PM

What works for me is slowing the lathe down as far as you can. You can see everything better, the catches are not as severe. If the tool is properly presented,you can actually cut by turning the lathe by hand. Speed just means you cut faster. Speed it up as your confidence increases.This works on gouges, too.

Make sure your tool rest is at the proper height for the tool that you are using.

-- You can lead a horse to water, but you can't tie his shoes. Blaze Foley

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3847 days

#10 posted 02-05-2011 06:01 AM
On the left side of the screen, go down the list of what is offered on the site and you’ll find “free lathe videos” That is mainly a scroll sawing website, as the name implies, but Rick Hutcheson, the site owner, has some very good videos on there on woodturning.


View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3965 days

#11 posted 02-05-2011 11:07 AM

Try this website:
You will be green with envy when you see what can be done on a lathe.

View Chiefk's profile


163 posts in 4775 days

#12 posted 02-05-2011 03:54 PM

If you have a grind that makes you skew “easy cheesy” for you, then you have your answer. I have found that there is no one grind angle for any lathe tool. The best grind is the one that works best for you. Hope this helps, pkennedy

-- P Kennedy Crossville, TN

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