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New to turning

Advice on which chisels to aquire

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Eugene Anderson04/03/2012 21:19:39
47 forum posts
21 photos


I have just got a small lathe and would like to ask for advice on which chisels to get to kick off with, I got it with the intention of turning some legs and handles etc for the boxes I make but I cannot see it stopping there and know I will have to have a go at other stuff so I would need some that would see me through a variety of basic tasks.



paul wagstaffe04/03/2012 21:24:30
107 forum posts
11 photos

You and me both Andy, I am just starting out on this new chapter of my wood working hobby.

Good Luck!


Derek Lane05/03/2012 00:50:35
3219 forum posts
1004 photos

Buy the best you can afford they will see you right. Go for the better known brands such as Robert sorby, Crown, Hamlet and Ashley Ilkes.

Buying sets does not always work out the better option, but having said that I have got the Robert Sorby set of six which I find has all you will need to get you going until you need some more special chisels.

Also don't forget a bench grinder with a desent wheel (as the ones that come with them can be a bit harsh). Have a good look at sharpening your chisels as this is inportant to easy turning and getting a good finish. Don't be put off if you get a catch or two ( we have all had them).

If possible try and find a club near you or a turner who is happy to show you the basics.

Not checked you profiles yet but if you can give an idea roughly where you live someone may even volunteer

Eugene Anderson05/03/2012 10:06:38
47 forum posts
21 photos

Derek, many thanks for the advice, I think it always helps to get help from someone who knows what they are talking about and who has been down the same road.

I have since found there is a thriving club not 15 minutes from me here in Lincolnshire so I will be paying them a visit.

Just have to start saving now for the tools.......

Best of luck paul, hope you have some fun.


Derek Lane05/03/2012 21:08:12
3219 forum posts
1004 photos

Glad to be of some help and look forward to seeing your work. Don't be afraid to post pictures we all started somewhere.

Eric Harvey 106/03/2012 08:53:53
221 forum posts
81 photos

have a look at,they make great tools,and therir cheaper than most of the others,regards,


Eugene Anderson06/03/2012 18:21:13
47 forum posts
21 photos

Thanks for all the help guys. well, it went from looking at some Faithfull chisels then to the Axminster set but after reading your advice I settled for some Robert Sorby and found a set (new) on ebay.

Derek, I expect my first picture will be of some sawdust but it will be nice sawdust!!!


Derek Lane06/03/2012 21:40:21
3219 forum posts
1004 photos

Hope you like them Andy I certainly like them, I was very fortunate that I won mine last year at the Ally Pally turning competition. That company is just up the road from me yet have never been to them

Eugene Anderson07/03/2012 11:20:59
47 forum posts
21 photos

Derek, You obviously know what you're doing winning competitions like that.

Now onto the subject of sharpening. It seems that you have to keep touching up the chisels on a regular basis and after watching some video's on youtube, there seems to be a lot of burnt edges out there, this to me seems mad, to buy expensivetools and then destroy the integrity of the metal by over heating them, especially on a fine, thin edge. I was looking at the Axi wet grinder and thought that touching up the edges on a slow running wetstone would be more beneficial, more accurate and more gentle on your cutting edges.

Any comment and advice would be greatly appreciated.


Simon Reeves07/03/2012 13:12:52
622 forum posts
227 photos

Hi Andy

A wet grinder is good (I have an older Tormek) as you definitely can't overheat the tools, and it removes less metal each time than a normal high speed grinder. The Tormek also has a honing wheel which is great at putting the finishing edge on. Not essential but useful.

However, to make the best of any grinder, and especially with the turning gouges, you really need some kind of jig to help you present the cutting edge to the wheel at the same angle each time. If this changes whenver you sharpen, you'll effectively have a different tool each time too. A few degrees can make all the difference.

Jigs can be as simple or as complex as you want, but they are almost indispensible IMHO. For things like a gouge with a fingernail profile with only a single facet (i.e. the ground edge), you have to swing the gouge from side to side in an arc, as well as rotate it. Believe me this is not easy to do freehand and still keep the single facet! As you probably know, Tormek make a large range of jigs for all kinds of tools. The Jet range that Axminster do appears to be a clone of the Tormek stuff.

Having said all that, I also use a normal high speed grinder with a white wheel for most of my sharpening, with a selection of home made angle setting jigs for the grinding table, including one just to keep the gouge at right angles to the wheel. It takes a bit of practice to do all this properly.

Ref the tools, when you come to extend your range, Derek and Eric are right about the Ashley Iles ones. Several of mine are Ashley - very nice steel and you can buy them unhandled too (try the local woodworking shows). An advantage as you can make whatever size handles you want and personalise them to you.

Good luck with it all.


Derek Lane07/03/2012 19:54:16
3219 forum posts
1004 photos

I have the same model that you have looked at but rarely use the wet wheel. I will replace it sometime with a standard bench grinder with either a white or maroon wheel and attach my grinding jig that i use. Gentle presure is what is needed and don't rush until you gt use to sharpening. Go to the club you mentioned and get someone to show you the best way to sharpen

Everyone has their own way of doing things so watch or ask and learn, you will soon find your way.

A good book to get is Kieth Rowley's A foundation Coarse in woodturning

Jim123407/04/2012 11:08:37
5 forum posts

Ditto that last post about Kieth Rowley's book.

I have always followed Keith's method but I also have a Robert Sorby finger nail profiling Jig which fits on the grinder and this includes a tool platform to set the angle to for hand sharpening in just the same way that his book describes. You will need to keep touching up the edges very regularly and the profiling jig will take you too long.


The RS pvoting fingernail profiler gets the gouges back to base standard after so many quick hand sharpens on the tool platform.

Good luck, you have just touched the tip of a huge iceberg of interesting pleasure.

Pay attention to dust extraction and watch out for the fire risk from sparks off the grinder!


Julian07/04/2012 17:20:02
553 forum posts
28 photos

Hi Eugene -- I am also pretty new to Turning and bought the Axminster set originally and I still use them, they are HSS and it has just about all you need to start with. After visiting the Yandles show last year for the first time I got Talking to the Guys at Robert Sorby and Ishley Isles so bought a couple of each and have to say they are both streets ahead of the axminster set in quality. I also bought the RS universal sharpening system for the chisels together with a record power grinding wheel and the two go well together.

This is my latest project made from sycamore (I think) and only using the Ashley 13mm Bowl Gouge and a piece of formica to burn the rings.

Have fun Eugene you will find a wealth of info from the guys on this site. -- Julian

Ron Davis07/04/2012 17:39:27
1619 forum posts
201 photos

Have fun Eugene, all the advice I coulod give has already been given. I was pleased to see that you have found a club to join.


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