Woodturning without sanding? Notes and pictures from the November meeting

At last night’s demo, Phil Holtan asked how many of us would be sad if we didn’t have to do any sanding. Nobody raised their hands. He went on to talk about steps you can take to reduce the need to sand, including:

  1. Using sharp tools. One point he raised here is that you don’t need to worry nearly as much about how sharp your tools are early on in the process, when you’re roughing out your project. But when it’s getting down to the final cuts, he said that’s when you should stop and put a fresh edge on your tool. He also said that high-speed steel tools take a better edge than carbide or powdered metal tools, so if you have those tools, use those for the roughing phase, and then switch to high-speed steel for the finish cuts.
  2. Slow down and take finer cuts. Making big shavings is fine when you’re roughing and you want to remove a lot of wood fast, but it does cause more tear-out. When you’re making finish cuts, slow down with your tool and take thinner, finer cuts.
  3. Related to the previous one is speeding up the lathe. A faster lathe speed also means you’ll take finer cuts.
  4. Adjusting the tool angle. You want to position the tool to put the cutting edge at an angle to the material, while still rubbing the bevel. This leads to more of a shearing cut, which leaves a cleaner surface.

While describing these tips, Phil also turned an “ale bowl” from apple wood to demonstrate how each of them affected the surface. Here’s Phil at the lathe:

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And the end result (with no sanding):

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And here’s a budding young turner checking out some of the items club members brought for our “show and tell” session at the end of the meeting.

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