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PeteMurphy

Newbie - help!

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Hi! 

I am a relatively new turner - I took a beginners class and then found a small Jet lathe on craigslist. It came with some carbide replacement head tools, so I decided to start with those. I have been trying a couple of small bowls and am seeing a whole lot of grain tearing. I never experienced this in my class (which was taught on the same lathe), so I wonder if it is the carbide tools? The lathe is completely level and weighted down with the stand plus a couple large bags of sand. Should I switch to traditional tools? 

Any advice would be super appreciated. 

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Welcome Pete! I have some turning experience but we have a couple folks that are awesome turners so hopefully they will chime in. I will say I personally can get better shavings off traditional tools but before going that route have you tried rotating the cutting edge on the carbide tool? I also use a leather a strop sometimes on my Easywood carbide tools 

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Hey, @PeteMurphy , welcome to the Hotel California of woodworking.  I'm primarily a woodturner, and I primarily use carbide scraping tools.  Assuming that your class taught you to use traditional tools and this is your first foray with carbide then you and pkinneb are correct, the most likely factor in the increased tear out you are seeing post class is the carbide scraping tools. 

Increased tear out is the trade off you make for ease of use, and replaceable cutting edges, as well as the capabilities of carbide scrapers which are different than those of bowl gouges.  I use carbide tools primarily for the latter factor, but I expect and accept that I will have to do lot of sanding.  

There are some steps you can take to reduce tear out with these tools. 

If the cutters came with the tools and you don't know how much use they have seen then consider replacing them.

If these are Easy Wood tools (or will fit their inserts) consider spending a few bucks more for Easy Woods negative rake inserts.  These will significantly reduce, but not eliminate, tear out.  If you go the regular cutter route check out AZ Carbide for good pricing.

When you do get new cutters you'll need to mark the first position and decide on a rotation schedule.  Use a Sharpie and put a line on both the top surface and the surface that is obscured by the tool's mounting bed.  The latter will still be there if the former gets rubbed off.  Since I use about 180* of the round cutter's surface I stick to 4 rotations (N S E W), then discard.  You'll have to figure out your own schedule and frequency, but remember using dull tools is a dull idea.

Keep a light touch on the last 1/8 or so of material you're removing.  That's really key.  Also, if you did not know, tool position is zero pitch and zero roll with the cutter altitude set at the equator.  

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I am a turner that started out on carbide and then switched to traditional. My advice is to make a piece with carbide. That way you get the satisfaction of a completed job. In the meantime buy a bowl gouge from Thompson wood tools. Invest in a good grinder and Wolverine sharpening jig. Learn to sharpen because if you don’t, traditional tools will only make you mad. Once I got traditional tools down, I have never picked up the carbide tools since. You get a much better finish from a sharp tool. 

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