Wood Lathe Forming Tool
Forming tools can be of different looks to create different wood shapes. Usually it is an uncommon shape that cannot be achieved by other tools. It is common that these tools are custom made by woodturners themselves. These tools usually have one single purpose that they fulfill perfectly. For example, there is a tool that makes perfect ball shapes, or a tool for specific radiuses and angles. There are also tools with complicated cutting edges to create complicated wood forms. They can combine right angles, round shapes, and cutting edges.
Common Characteristics of an Ordinary Forming Tool
Due to its custom nature, it is hard to describe the common look and correct techniques for this kind of tool. Below you’ll find general characteristics for a typical forming tool.
The forming tools are usually produced from silver steel. A piece of metal is cut 40mm long. The shape of the front of the tool is individual, so do as you please, just don’t forget to make a relief so that only the cutting edge of the tool touches the work. Try the prototype on several scrap pieces of wood, refine it if necessary, put finishing touches, and you’re good to go. Now you need to harden it.
Hardening the Tool
To harden the tool use heating. Heat it up to cherry red colour and plunge into water. The tool will become hardened but rather brittle. Now, you need to get rid of this brittle effect. Temper it to remove a small part of hardness and increase toughness of the tool. Let’s describe the tempering in a more detailed way.
To temper the hard end you need to use the dry oilstone (without oil) to polish the oxide film left on the flat. Do not round the edges, and do not touch the polished face with fingers otherwise you might ruin the next stages of the process. Then the tool is heated again. The flame is applied to the body just behind the flat. Watch closely at the polished surface. If the correct temperature is reached, a coloured oxide film will form on the polished surface. You see a light straw color, plunge the end in the water immediately. This is how you fix the hardness. Now you can sharpen the tool on a smooth oilstone using oil.
General Purpose of the Tool
Forming tools are good for the decorative work on the chanter. Their diversity is a big plus when you consider creating different complex shapes. Using them you won’t have to carve everything by hand turning. Creativity of the design combined with the speed of a lathe. Speaking about disadvantages it is worth mentioning that forming tools can pull chips out of the wood. It is especially true if less even grained woods are used. Also, be careful to use this type of tool when cutting shapes that are either too fine or too deep.
See more about wood lathe tools here: Wood gouge technique, wood lathe captive ring tools, wood lathe beading tools, wood lathe chatter tools, wood lathe hollowing tools, wood lathe parting tools, wood lathe texturing tools, wood lathe spiralling tools, wood lathe skew chisels & wood lathe scraper tools.