Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Turning Tools from Glen-Drake Toolworks

Lie-Nielsen's Hand Tool Event came to town last weekend.  It's a great place to play with all their offerings, and ask questions about maintaining and using them.  I got some solid advice on sharpening small blades, and bought one of their small bronze spokeshaves.  What a sweet little tool, especially compared to the crappy Kunz (Stanley knockoff) I have at home.  I also made several cuts with their thin-plate dovetail saw, and now lust for it even though I have a perfectly functional Veritas model.  It cuts like a shark with lasers attached.

Anyway, there are typically also other vendors there, and Glen-Drake was one of them.  Kevin Drake was demonstrating some new spindle turning tools he's developed, and I'm definitely intrigued.  There are six of them, two sizes each of three types:  a rectangular-shaft skew, and round-shaft skew, and a round-shafted chisel ground with a bevel on top and bottom, like a non-skewed skew...  He calls it a duckbill.  That's it.  No gouges.

Kevin Drake demonstrates his turning tools

The tools are short, only about 14" long, more than half of which is handle.  The business ends are stout, and made of O1 steel instead of HSS that's the standard for turning tools these days.  The steel is tempered differently along it's length to make the shafts tough and strong, and the cutting end hard and sharp.  O1 is generally regarded to give a keener edge than A2 or HSS, although I think most turners will have to rethink their sharpening methods.  These tools are meant to be sharpened like a carving tool or bench chisel - shaped once in a great while on the grinder, and maintained with regular light honing on a stone.  The payoff is the smooth surface right off the lathe.

I ordered the smaller of the rectangular skews.  All the tools are around $80, but he said that's some kind of introductory pricing.  After I get it and have a chance to play with it, I'll do a little review.


I like it.  I'm no expert turner, but I use my skews quite a bit.  I've got a Sorby that's my go-to tool; tough, not particularly sharp, fairly cheap HSS tool.  I'll use it for roughing some blanks, and the coarse shaping of larger parts.  Where I really like this Glen-Drake skew is for fine shaping, slicing with the tip, and putting a nice smooth finish on a cylindrical or tapered part.  I keep it sharp and clean, and that's how it performs.  When I have a catch with a skew, it's usually the kind where the edge catches and spirals back along the workpiece, not the digging in the point and punching out a deep wedge type.  I have far fewer of those with this skew than with my Sorby, for whatever reason.