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Special Tools

I know that when you pay for your own, all tools are rather special!  I go along with that one too.  However, this page is dedicated to those tools whose function is hard to define in the traditional categories of tools but which nonetheless form an important part of the modern turner's armoury.

If you are thinking of end-grain hollowing, then the ring tools on this page could be the answer to your needs. Perhaps you would like to try applying chattertool decoration to those end-grain projects?  It was hard to decide where to place shear scrapers in our pages, but we finally decided that they are so different from traditional scrapers that we should separate them out as the specialist tools they really are.  Some of these shear scraper tools also have hollowing tips so they are included here too.  Finally but very significantly, we are including here the Decorating Elf from Henry Taylor and the texturing and spiralling tools by Robert Sorby.

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"Decorating Elf" from Henry Taylor: Click for photo
Designed to enable the woodturner to quickly and simply enhance smaller turned objects - for example boxes, pens, finials, peppermills - with impressed or embossed patterns.  The Decorating Elf employs a burr which is mounted in a support handle equipped with precisiClick for larger image of the Henry Taylor Decorating Elfon bearings.  The cutter is driven by the rotation of the workpiece and in so doing, a pattern is cut in the wood surface.

Supplied as standard with a ball burr, two further burrs are available, a cylindrical and a bud-shape, as options.  The variety of patterns produced is also dependent upon the angle in which the tool is presented to the workpiece, the speed of rotation and the pressure applied.  After the pattern has been cut it can be further enhanced by gilding with gilt creams, colouring, waxing using liming wax etc.  A burnishing brush is supplied with the tool to assist in creating a clean crisp finish on your handiwork.

Because the patterns are most easily applied in a small cove, Henry Taylor have also created a very simple negative rake coving tool which creates a cove of the perfect dimensions to match the Elf cutter.  The finished patterns look stunning when outline by an inscribed line and Henry Taylor have also created a negative rake point tool which creates the incised lines in a trice.

A great new way to enhance your turned work, quickly, simply and economically.

We have created a unique Woodturners Decorating Elf Bundle in conjunction with Henry Taylor comprising the three essential tools from the Elf range (Elf; Coving tool and Point tool). This is offered at a special price approximately equivalent to getting one of the auxilliary tools completely free of charge.
A REAL BARGAIN! Available only whilst stocks last.


Ring Tools: Click for photo The modern turner's derivative of the traditional hook tools which were much used in green turning on the pole lathe and which still find wide favour Sorby Ring Tooltoday among Scandinavian turners.  These modern closed ring tools are strictly for use in end grain hollowing and can grab heavily if used on cross-grain, as in faceplate turning.  They work well in wet wood and can give a very good finish on dry hardwoods.   They excel when turning the softer timbers such as Birch and the softwood species - hence their popularity in Scandinavia.

A small conical aluminium oxide stone should be used to sharpen these tools on the inside only.  Do not attempt to grind the outside diameter.  A suitable stone (a "grinding point") is listed below.


Coving Tool: Click for photo This apparently simple tool makes the forming of coves a much simpler task than many have found it to be hitherto.  Speed and consistency are the benefits claimed for this novel approach to one of the spindle turner's standard tasks.  The shearing cut produces a smooth surface and the flat bevel is child's play to sharpen.  Whilst basically a 3/8" tool, it can be used to form coves of a wide range of sizes.


*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling.
Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Mushroom Tool and Box Hollower: from Robert Sorby: an interchangeable tip scraper system for getting into those hard-to-access areas of tricky turnings!

Sorby 804H Mushroom Tool

The Sorby 803H Box Hollower, above right, and the 804H Mushroom Tool, above left, can each be used with any of the variety of interchangeable scraper cutters shown alongside (right and below).

Sorby 804C5 rim cutter scraper tip
Sorby 804C08 Side and end box cutter for use with 803C/804C
Sorby 804C7 side & face cutter
Sorby 804C09 Mushroom cutter for use with 803C/804C
Sorby 804C06 Mini round nose cutter for use with 803C/804C

Chattertool: Click for photo The Sorby chattertool (RS215KT) is a complete kit containing the handle, two double-ended chatter cutters (one convex/concave; one straight/pointed), a small HSS shear scraper blade with one straight and one French curve edge and an Allen hex. key for locking the interchangeable blades in place.  This tool is used primarily for patterning end grain items such as box tops.  The patterns produced can be infinitely varied by using the different cutters, altering the length of the tip projecting out of the handle and changing the lathe speed.


Shear Scrapers:  The Ray Key HS111 shear scraper has already been mentioned on the scrapers page and is designed with an obtuse diamond point allowing scraping of platters and other flat work in both directions.  Sorby provide two scrapers with square shanks and small interchangeable HSS cutters: these are easier to use than many shear scrapers since the square shank of the tool is set to ensure that the tip is presented at a 45 degree cutting angle. 

Sorby 826C shear scraper with round tip for hollowing.

826 cutter with 'concave' profile - for use internally for hollowing.

Sorby 827C shear scraper with square tip for external shaping

827 cutter with 'convex' profile - for use externally for shaping.

The 826 cutter is designed for hollowing work whilst the 827 is designed for external curves.  The RS200KT, RS230KT and RS130KT share a range of tips designed for hollowing and shear scraping  (See the Hollowing Tools page for listing of the RS100KT and RS230 KT).  The shear scraping tip is an HSS tip with one straight and one French curve cutting edge.  For hollowing a small 'pick' type tip is fitted.  Full instructions are provided.  The 200KT is a standard length tool whilst the miniaturists are catered for by the 868H which features a smaller version of the straight/French curve scraper tip.

Click for photoTaylor provide us with four shear scrapers  featuring smoothly radiused edges so that they s-l-i-d-e easily along the toolrest whilst tipped up at a 30 - 45 degree shear angle.  Types HS145 & 146 have a long curved edge similar to diagram D on the scrapers page , whilst HS 150 & 151 have a skewed round nose akin to an offset version of diagram B of the scrapers page.


*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling.
Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Helical Tool by Stuart Mortimer:  Stuart has become famous for his spiral turning and his demonstrations are always avidly attended by enthusiasts for this delicate and skillfully-produced work.  To make the removal of the timber from the spiral flutes easier, Henry Taylor have produced this special gouge in conjunction with Stuart.  The fingernail-sharpened blade is approximately four inches long and a short handle is fitted to make the tool easy to use single-handed: the other hand is used to rotate the workpiece into the tool.  See also the Stuart Mortimer hollowing tools from Hamlet.


Texturing System and Spiralling System:  Two unique innovations from Robert Sorby round out this section on specialist tools.

Sorby Texturing Tool

The Texturing Tool features a rotating cutter which is held against the rotating work and cuts a spiral pattern n the surface of the workpiece.  By altering the angle of presentation, lathe speed and rate of movement the texture applied can be infinitely varied.  A breakthrough in surface decoration from Sorby, now available in a variety of sizes and forms, including a modular handled version.  The smaller tool features its own range of (smaller) cutters.

Sorby Spiralling Tool

The Spiralling Tool is a more sophisticated version of the texturing tool with additional cutters of different pitches and a special tool rest which can be adjusted on the shank of the tool to allow the tool to be presented repeatably at any chosen angle.  The standard kit includes the texturing cutter and spiral cutters of 2mm, 4mm and 6mm pitch.  5mm pitch and 11mm pitch spiral cutters are available as options.


*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling.
Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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Examples of spiral turning produced using the Sorby Spiralling System


Examples of textured items produced using the Sorby Texturing Tool (above)

1997-2009 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice