I have been a serious woodworker for 10 years, but I still have trouble with the lathe. I work with oak frequently and often catch and chip parts or gouge them badly. This happens with gouges and skews. I just don’t seem to know the best way to bring the tool to the work. Is there a good guide somewhere (with lots of pictures) that shows the proper way to use the tools?
Michael Dresdner: There are many good books and videos on turning basics. I’m fond of Richard Raffin’s works, but there are certainly others that are excellent. For now, here’s a tip to help you over the hump. Gouging is often caused by entering the wood too fast, or at too low an angle … and the cutting tool catches the wood. Try this trick: Rest the bevel of the tool on the spinning wood. It will just sit there as the wood spins. Now slowly back the tool outward until the cutting edge just starts to engage. By laying the bevel on the wood first, it gives you time and control over how the cutter addresses the wood.
Rob Johnstone: I am not a turning expert by any means, but just a few minutes this last summer with Steve Blenk (who is an expert) gave me the answer to your question. He taught me how to “ride the bevel” when engaging the cutting edge of a turning tool. Here’s how it works. You place your tool onto the rotating stock in such a way that only the bevel of the tool is making contact. (This is after the basic “roughing out” has been done.) Now, gently start to rock the tool towards the cutting edge and you’ll feel it as it engages with the stock. You will be surprised at the control this adds to the turning process. Hope this helps.