A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to purchase a small lathe from my wife’s grandfather who was physically unable to work in the shop. It was a deal I couldn’t pass up and it provided an opportunity to learn a new woodworking skill. Yet, even after a couple of years, I cannot profess to be a turner. The first handle I made for the skew chisel went really well. The challenge came when trying to make an identical copy for the second chisel. For the most part things went okay with this handle too, but one of the handles is a little smaller in diameter than the other. This is a result of a nasty catch when I attempted to roll the end of the handle.
My primary lathe tool is a ¾’ oval skew. The tool leaves a perfect surface without the need for sanding (when things go well) but it can also be an unforgiving tool if you don’t pay close attention to what’s going on. It seems to be a lesson I need to learn over and over again. Maybe this translates into other areas of life too?
I did manage to finish the handle and get to grinding on the second blade. I did the same thing as with the other chisel except in reverse. I mentioned in the previous post about the setup I used to get the chisel ground and thought I would post a picture of the process to demonstrate the simplicity.
After getting both chisels ground I moved on to honing the blades. I have a set of Norton Waterstones and I love them. They cut really fast and produce a surgical edge. The only downside is that they have to be flattened often. When it comes to sharpening most of the discussions I have read seem to become nearly, if not, dogmatic in the choice of methods. I don’t care to enter that discussion and would like to try out some other methods (diamond stones, oil stones, etc.) but I already have the Waterstones and they work.
I also like to use a Veritas MK II guide on my bench chisels but this wasn’t going to work with the skews so I had to sharpen them free hand. To my surprise they came out just fine. Now I’m rethinking the need for the guide. I have a couple sets of cheap chisels that I might use to practice on before giving the guide up but I’m at least willing to try.
In the end I’m pretty happy with the results. For about $30 I have a set of matching skew chisels. And because I put in the effort to make them they mean that much more.