The Hard Stuff

Woodturning is fun and satisfying to me. It suits my short attention span and allows for creativity on the fly. It’s also something you can do in a smaller space and does not require tons of equipment. I like it for so many reasons.

Recently I was asked to try out some of the Negative Rake Cutters from Easy Wood Tools. I had heard about them, but other than knowing that they feature a “special” grind on their carbide tips, I was in the dark about the technology. They were created to deal with very hard woods and materials like resin or plastic.

The videos below offer up what I found out about the cutters and show some of my first attempts at turning acrylic. I hope you’ll find my learning experience as interesting as I did. Now I can’t wait to give the Negative Rake Cutters a go on some lignum vitae that I have in my shop … that stuff is super dense and very hard.

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

Turning Acrylic Blanks with Negative Rake Carbide Turning Tools

Interest in turning plastic and resin based materials has exploded in the past several years, but the hard and brittle nature of these turning blanks makes them more challenging to turn than many wood species. Turning tools with negative rake cutters make it easier to turn these hard materials. The term “negative rake” refers to the shape of the cutting angle of the carbide. Basically, the cutting tool slopes away from the cutting edge, which means safer, smoother and more continuous cuts in those very hard materials. Easy Wood Tools Negative Rake Replacement Cutters use that technology to make shaping man-made materials like resins and acrylics, but also very hard woods.

Installing a Threaded Insert into an Acrylic Turning Blank

A question that often comes up when turning acrylic handles is how to install the threaded insert that is included in most Rockler turning kits into an acrylic turning blank. The hard and brittle nature of acrylic blanks can make it challenging to thread this insert into the blank. We use heat to soften the acrylic temporarily and make it easier to turn the insert.

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