Wood Lathe Skew Chisel
Skew chisel is a long, flat, bevel-edged tool with a very specific tip. The thing is that the cutting edge of the chisel is not symmetrical. It has the long point called the toe, and the short point called the heel. The toe creates most of the problems when it comes to using this tool. So, novice woodturners try to avoid it. But it is important to point out that this tool is one of the most useful and versatile tools in the woodturner’s kit. It is recommended to take some time learning how to present the tool to the wood safely or you might end up with either runbacks or catches. They are not critical but still unpleasant.
Types of skew chisels
Usually, skew chisels differ from each other by grinding angles. Here are the most common grinding angles.
25º for soft wood
25º–this type is good for softwood. Adds precision and allows to create beads with raised details but vulnerable to hardwood.
40º for soft and hard wood
40º–the balanced type. Good for both softwood and hardwood while still maintaining the high level of details.
55º for hard wood
55º–this type is good for hardwood. Not too much precision, but you can cut even the toughest wood.
Purposes of the skew chisel and how to use it to fulfill these purposes
Smoothing a spindle
Finishing the smoothing with a spindle is a classic technique after you made a round shape with a gouge. For smoothing, you will use the part of the skew from the center to the heel. Put the right hand on the handle, and press the left hand against the rest. The toe is supposed to point toward 2-o’clock, and the heel side should be placed on the tool rest. At this angle, the only part of the skew chisel that touches the wood is the center. So, one more time: the toe must be kept away from the spindle, and the heel must be positioned on the tool rest during the procedure. Don’t raise the tool into the air it can not just create the runbacks or catches, it can even hurt you. Now, let’s turn to smoothing itself. You start from the right side of the tool rest and move to the left. Keep two angles as you cut. The first angle is created with the rear hand remaining to the right of the fore hand, and the second is created by tilting the tool counter-clockwise. Make sure that the toe doesn’t touch the spindle. Long ribbons of wood are a sign that you’re doing it right.
This action is similar to smoothing. The only big difference is more active using of the heel side of the edge. Tapers are usually made of grooves by a parting tool, and then finished off with the skew chisel.
Making V-cuts and beads
These techniques are quite the opposite to the ones mentioned above. These pieces are usually created using only the toe. This time the toe-side is placed on the tool rest with the tool handle being held almost parallel to the floor. Once the toe side engages with the wood one side of the V-cut or the bead is created. Then the tip is rolled to the other side. This way you will get a complete V-cut or the bead. Just don’t rush. It is also possible to create
These techniques are quite the opposite to the ones mentioned above. These pieces are usually created using only the toe. This time the toe-side is placed on the tool rest with the tool handle being held almost parallel to the floor. Once the toe side engages with the wood one side of the V-cut or the bead is created. Then the tip is rolled to the other side. This way you will get a complete V-cut or the bead. Just don’t rush. It is also possible to create bead with the heel tip of the skew chisel. It is similar to the toe tip technique. Just remember that your rear hand controls the situation.
The Skew Chisel with Allan Batty | Woodturning How-to
See more about wood lathe tools here: Wood lathe spiralling tools, wood lathe beading tools, wood lathe chatter tools, wood lathe hollowing tools, wood gouge technique, wood lathe parting tools, wood lathe forming tools, wood lathe texturing tools, wood lathe scraper tools & wood lathe captive ring tools.