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Catch 22, or I Skewed it up good.

Many more than 22 catches this week folks!


I'm trying to be a better wood turner, and since I've been doing mostly bowls and platters for the past few years, I thought it would be good to start doing more spindle work. After watching quite a few how to videos on YouTube by people with superhuman coordination and skills, I set upon sharpening the two old high carbon steel skews that I have. With these weapons of minor destruction in hand, I spent a few glorious hours turning perfectly good scrap lumber into horrible looking beads with more catches and run-backs than I've seen in my life. Yes, I know how to use various gouges for spindle work, and it's something I can do fairly well. With a gouge in hand, I can turn a pretty fair bead or cove. And there's always sandpaper to follow up with. But using the skew has never been anything I've ever been good at. Clearly, there had to be a better way forward.

So I did what every frustrated turner should do, I asked someone who's experienced for help. Luckily, I'm a member in good standing of the Cape Cod Woodturners, which is chock full of talented and knowledgeable wood turners.

First, I of course blamed the tools. My skews were from a Greenlee starting kit, and with hard edges was pretty hard to handle. The short handles weren't doing me any favors either, as clearance with my overly large stomach was an issue. Dave Arnone fixed me up with a very nice Carter & Son 1/2' skew with lovely rounded edges, and my neighbor Richard Wright came by with his skews, explained the pros and cons to me, and set me on a path of practicing beads. Over and over and over...

I'm still a long way from ANY proficiency, but things are looking better. We're going to meet up soon to review my homework, and get some feedback on how to improve while Richard watches me attempt to turn some beads.

I'm still unsure of the best angles to grind the skew to, but I'm getting much better results from the C&S skew. I'm not sure if it's because of the rolled edges, the less acute grind angles, the longer and well shaped handle, or a combination of all those things.

If you'd like to see a master at work, check out this video by Steve Jones. Amazing!

Some good tips on sharpening by this video by Brian Havens:


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