Wood Lathe Tools

A Close Look At Wood Lathe Tools

Wood lathe tools aren't particularly complicated, in fact many wood turners, as those using lathes like to call themselves, make their own tools. Wood lathe tools are usually referred to as knives, though many, if not most, bear a closer resemblance to a chisel. Wood lather tools are sometimes called chisels instead of knives, but the latter term is more commonly used. Some practitioners use the terms interchangeably.

A beginning wood turner may use only one two different tools, one for roughing the piece out to get a cylindrical shape, and a second for fine-tuning or detailing. As one advances in the art, one finds a need for more specialized tools, though most of those tools have much in common.

If most tools have a couple of things in common it is they have a handle to grip them with, and they are very sharp. A rudimentary tool could be fashioned if one has a grinder, and bevels a screwdriver tip until it has a sharp edge, like a chisel. The next choice of a tool might be to take another screwdriver, that might be the same size, wider, or narrower, and grind it at an angle. Some knives have curved edges rather than having straight sharp edges. Some are fashioned with ergonomics in mind, so the wood turner can most comfortably rest them on the tool rest at just the right angle to cut the piece and get the desired result.

Importance Of The Tool Rest - The tool rest, while basically being a bar that runs parallel to the piece of wood being turned, could be considered yet another of the wood lathe tools, since it can at times be customized to help the wood turner in doing more precise work. If it weren't for the tool rest, it would be nearly impossible to turn any piece of wood successfully without applying too much pressure or gouging. Without the tool rest, wood turning would quite possibly be a dangerous activity. Wood lathe tools have to be held very firmly and positioned very carefully to get the desired results.

One of the characteristics most wood lathe tools have is that of a fairly long handle, which provides stability and thereby enables precisions work. This need for a longer handle is the man reason why common woodworking chisels are not used. The handles are simply too short. The lathe tool handles often need to be slightly curved, which if course is not a characteristic of the wood chisel.

The Gouge And The Spoon -  For carving shapes like bowls or the knurls on spindles or furniture legs, the knives used are called gouges. Gouge sounds like something you really don't want to do when turning a piece of wood, but in this case the gouge is a knife with a concave, curved cutting edge. Somewhat related are spoon cutters, though the cutting edges are convex rather than concave, and would be used in carving out the interior of a bowl, while the gouge would be used for shaping the outside surface.

Specialty Tools - There are specialty tools as well, like skew chisels, spear chisels, parting chisels, and round nose chisels,  plus more than a few that the average wood turner would seldom if ever use. If you're serious about using a wood lathe however, it almost seems like a necessity to get at least one of every conceivable type of tool you come across.

To those not terribly familiar with wood turning, it might seem that a wood lathe would no longer be of much use once you've made a set of table or chair legs. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially when one becomes advanced enough to start working with exotic or highly patterned wood and the creation of true objects of art.