Carbide-insert turning tools have experienced huge growth in popularity in recent years, thanks to their short learning curve and no need for sharpening. Now, Woodpeckers is engineering even higher performance into its insert tools to deliver a superior surface finish on wood and other turning materials. The company determined that for advanced cutting performance, you need a truly keen edge. That requires carbide that doesn’t just last, but also is fine-grained enough not to crumble when formed to a very sharp angle. The result of months of testing and trials has resulted in the nano-grain carbide matrix used in the inserts of these new Ultra-Shear Woodturning Tools. Polished to a mirror-finish on the cutting surface and precision ground on the bevel, Woodpeckers says these are the sharpest, longest lasting inserts on the market.
Insert-style turning tools are typically used with the tool held horizontally and on the centerline of the lathe. Ultra-Shear tools use this approach for roughing and shaping cuts. But, after initial shaping, the beveled shank profile of the full- and medium-size tools enables you to roll them right or left to land the cutting edge on another bearing plane, 45 degrees from horizontal. With the tool at this angle, the wood fibers slice cleanly, leaving a surface that needs little or no sanding. It’s a technique called shear scraping. Ultra-Shear’s shaft geometry makes shear scraping a simple approach even beginners can use, instead of something that takes years to master.
Today’s pen turners often work in exotic materials — acrylics, polymer clays, stabilized wood, and even mixtures of these options. While shear scraping still works, the 45-degree angle that performs optimally for solid wood is rarely ideal for synthetics. Woodpecker’s smaller Ultra-Shear pen tools have shanks with round sides instead, allowing you to locate the optimum shear angle for whatever material you’re turning, plus there’s a large flat surface milled on the bottom for solid support during initial roughing and shaping cuts.
Woodpeckers offers Ultra-Shear tools in three sizes and shapes, for nine different tools overall. Each tool size can be purchased with three insert profiles: square for outside curves, round for inside curves and diamond-point for detail work. The full-size tools’ added mass will give you confidence when tackling larger projects. Mid-size Ultra-Shear tools are intended for spindle work, pizza cutters, bottle cap lifters, and bowls and platters in 8-in. or smaller diameters. The pen tools are useful both for turning pen blanks and also for fine-detail turning on box finials and other miniature work.
Woodpecker’s nine Ultra-Shear Woodturning Tools are available individually, in prices ranging from $79.99 to $139.99. Or, save money by buying them in three-piece sets of pen-turning, medium and full sizes ($219.99 to $379.99). There’s also a master set of all nine options for $799.99. The carbide inserts are replaceable when they dull and sell for $14.99 to $18.99. Woodpeckers manufactures these tools in Strongville, Ohio.