Chris Schwarz's Blog

The Anarchist’s Gift Guide, Day 8

EW_R4_IMG_8214

As a furniture-maker, turning was always an uphill battle for me. Every turning tool requires a different touch and a different sharpening approach. The problem was that I never practiced enough to keep my skills up. So every time I picked up a skew, I was a baby turner again.

A few years ago I purchased a set of EasyWood turning tools, and they totally and completely transformed my attitude toward the lathe. The learning curve on these tools is so shallow that I’ve taught almost 20 people to turn this year (who had little or no experience) in just a couple hours.

The EasyWood tools are smart because they require only one grip and one toolrest setting for all the tools. And you don’t have to sharpen them. Thanks to the carbide inserts, you can simply rotate the cutter for a fresh edge. And they last a long time. I can turn legs for more than a dozen chairs before I have to rotate the cutter.

Some turners who use these tools have said that the tools are glorified scrapers that leave a poor surface finish. That’s total <expletive deleted>. With a light touch these tools leave a beautiful surface.

EW_handle_IMG_8216

Personally, I don’t think you should buy the whole set at first. Buy the full-size EasyRougher with an R4 cutter. It has a slight radius. This slight radius, like the camber on a plane iron, allows you to make finishing cuts without the corners digging in. I use the EasyRougher for about 90 percent of my work. Then I use the EasyDetailer to cut in small coves and beads. The EasyFinisher is great for making larger coves, but I prefer the EasyRougher for finishing cuts. It is the backbone of the system.

The tool is about $130 and made in the United States. I recommend you buy direct from the manufacturer to keep more money in the pockets of the family that runs the business. But many suppliers carry the tools, too, such as Lee Valley Tools and Woodcraft.

— Christopher Schwarz

Read other days of my gift guide:
Day 1 is here. Rockler Mini Drill Bit Set
Day 2 is here. Brownell’s gunsmith drivers
Day 3 is here. Grip mini pry bar
Day 4 is here. Tiger Flakes
Day 5 is here. Grammercy Holdfasts
Day 6 is here. Draft-Matic pencils
Day 7 is here. The Saddle-Tail.

This is the last day of the gift guide. I hope it was helpful.

12 thoughts on “The Anarchist’s Gift Guide, Day 8

  1. docwks

    You have lost a fan. Your assessment of the easy tools is fine; your bashing of the traditional tools is not. Your reasoning does not play well with your assertion that users need to learn skills with the traditional tools; hand saw, planes and chisels. I teach woodturning and have never bashed the carbide tools, but I only teach how to use them after class, as I teach traditional skills. I feel much better about my power tools, after reading such hypocritical comments about a skill set, I love. It is obvious you only have a passion for skills you like and take the easy way on skills you don’t. I don’t have an issue with your praise of these tools, they work fine, but I can make one for less than $25 with “hand tools”. Oh, the comment on the surface finish, it is somewhat true, if you are using dry hardwood. Green or softwoods or woods that have soft areas scrapers will have problems, unless you have the “skill” to use them in non-traditional ways. Oh and your comment about a skew; it is a tough tool to master and not one I would want a newbie to start with, but that is what happens when you have someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing, teach woodturning.

  2. KenCanDO

    Chris have you used the Rockler version of a carbide roughing tool? I saw one there for $65 and it looks to be comparable. I was considering buying one. $130 plus shipping is a little out of my price range. I do not know where this tool is made and that does make a difference to me.

  3. dale gillaspy

    Jennie, it is a scraper. Scrapers were the first turning tools and continue to be very popular today. Richard Raffan, among others, is a huge proponent of scrapers. This design uses not only a carbide cutter, but the metal in the alloy is very specific to these tools. The originator was a machinist and metallurgist and put great care into the design and metal used. Light passes for finishing cuts on most woods will yield a great finish, ready for 220 grit paper.

    there are also mini and starter sets of tools to select from, as well as a the first chuck with quick change jaws and the only one with a quick adjustment ring. Really come coos stuff.

    In my opinion, most of the arguments against scrapers and carbide tools are elitist. When it comes right down to it, if it gets more people to try and enjoy woodturning, who cares. No one is going to look at a finished product and ask if you used a bowl gouge or a carbide scraper to get there.

    I have no affiliation with the company and receive no compensation from them. I have met them Craig and Donna Jackson, the founders, several times and think they have a great product and great customer service. I am also a huge proponent of everything being made in the U.S.

  4. Jennie Alexander

    Chris
    Turning tool sounds interesting . How does it work? I get that blade can be broatated to an unworn edge.
    That’s fine but how does it work? It sounds sort of scraperish. If so how does it esacpe the usual consequences.
    Jennie

    1. Jennie Alexander

      Chris
      Turning tool sounds interesting . How does it work? I get that blade can be broatated to an unworn edge.
      That’s fine but how does it work? It sounds sort of scraperish. If so how does it esacpe the usual consequences.
      Jennie

      Computer-man tells me that I have duplicated this comment. No way. I may have pwished a button beyond my ken. JA

  5. mrnwolf

    I recently purchased the Rougher, Finisher and Detailer Tools to complete a night stand for my mother. The surface finish is excellent in addition, you do not need to have specialized sharpening guides to sharpen the. The cost of replacements is worth the time savings. The added benefit of short down time to rotate the cutter if it dulls or gets nicked helps keep you in the groove instead of having to drop what you are doing to re-hone a traditional lathe tool.

  6. Charlie Simpson

    Sir your timing is perfect. My wife, an artist, is wanting to get into wood turning. A simple system like this one is just what she needs. My Christmas shopping for her is now done. Thanks!

  7. Mitch Wilson

    One of the guys in my local woodworking club has some major neurological problems with one of his hands and cannot grip most tools with it. Yet he has recently been able to learn how to turn with the use of the EasyWood tools. I won’t say that he is an expert turner, but he certainly can do a credible job, while having fun. I have heard the various arguments about scraping versus cutting but personally have yet to give either method a try. But I do know what works and gives fine results. This is one of those moments.

COMMENT