Short fibre tear-out while turning

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Forum topic by GavinSA posted 03-03-2011 09:12 AM 1213 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 2941 days

03-03-2011 09:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning

Hi, Wondering of any one could help me with this. I recently took up turning and the main problem I have is when I turn bowls etc. I never seam to get a clean cut on the against the grain so my bowls external surface goes from smooth, rough, smooth rough. The same on the inside. I have been sanding to get rid of the problem but I was wondering if my technique is rather at fault or is the wood to dry or pores? As they say, its never the tool its the…

Anyone got any ideas?

-- An unfinished project makes great firewood for winter!

6 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16282 posts in 4516 days

#1 posted 03-03-2011 04:49 PM

I’m a relatively new turner, and I find that really sharp tools minimize that problem, but I still need to sand. I’m interested to see if any of the old pros have any other advice.

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

View Scott Walton's profile

Scott Walton

3 posts in 2977 days

#2 posted 03-03-2011 05:27 PM

Your right about the sharp tools! Your scaper should do a fairly nice job if honed but your going across and with the grains each 1/4 turn… you cannot get away from the physics of tree growth/grain structure. I have found over the years though, most of the exotic woods (which have a tendency to be on the oily side) won’t have any where near the tear out!

-- Walton Woodworks Ltd.

View GavinSA's profile


21 posts in 2941 days

#3 posted 03-04-2011 07:29 AM

I’ve read on another forum recently that a thin layer of Shellac also does wonders. Supposedly it binds the fibers making it easier to cut as they cannot be ripped out. Anyone confirm this theory? How would speed play a roll? Faster – more momentum, better cut/slice or Slower – more time to cut so cleaner.

-- An unfinished project makes great firewood for winter!

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3407 days

#4 posted 03-04-2011 05:34 PM

I have only been turning for about a year and mostly with natural wood pieces as adverse to glue-ups. A few things I notice that make a bit of a difference.

1. Heft of chisel and handles – Even when sharp, lighter weight chisels tend to deflect on the piece and you get some chatter. Chatter will cause those rough/smooth orientations in your piece. If you notice issues with chatter, try working with a more heftier chisel. My own future purchases will take handles into account because, despite the size of the chisel itself, leverage of the handle can make a world of difference.

2. Angle of cut. Most of your cuts should not be straight but angled horizontally and vertically on the tool rest. The angle will vary in small degrees depending on the type of wood and how it feels against the chisel. If I stop feeling and hearing the chisels cut the fiber but break it, then I automatically adjust my angle and/or sharpen the chisel.

3. I haven’t tried shellac though I have heard of people using it or CA glue to minimize tear out on tricky sections. Knotty areas or pieces where the grain pattern may suddenly change can also cause some problems. On areas where I have had some tear out, I do use CA glue and rub in some fine dust from the piece and it does help minimize further damage until it is either sanded smooth, or is further worked past where the tear out occurred.


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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5181 posts in 4259 days

#5 posted 03-04-2011 05:36 PM

Are you honing the tool after grinding? What tool are you using? Too many “ifs” for a good answer.
End grain and long grain will cut differently (as noted in another post). Tool presentation and refinement of the cutting edge determines the quality of the cut.

-- [email protected]

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3666 days

#6 posted 03-04-2011 05:41 PM

Sharp tools and high speed for finishing will eliminate this fuzz problem.

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