On many brows, the sweat will already be beading, simply from reading the title "Skew Chisel". Many turners have a love/hate relationship with these tools and few have never experienced the dreaded 'catch' - or two. Although we have listed them all together here, there are in fact two different but closely related tools in this section: the true Skew chisels where the cutting edge lies at an angle of around 60 degrees from the axis of the tool; and the traditional Square chisels where the edge is set perpendicular to the axis of the tool.
Once mastered, the skew chisel is a very versatile tool used both in planing a true and smooth surface on the outside of spindles as well as cutting vee-grooves and forming beads. It is great for facing off the end of cylindrical workpieces and properly handled, the skew can even be used for shaping gentle concave curves in spindle work. The Spindlemaster, a revolutionary alternative is also included in this section.
If you are having difficulty with the skew, then a tip which may be worth following is to invest in a 1/2" rectangular-section skew and to sharpen this using a bevel angle of around forty degrees (included angle). Many will consider this to be a very obtuse angle for a skew but it does make the handling very much easier and aids learning.
The next tip would be to keep the toolrest relatively high so that you are planing across the top of the workpiece. When rolling the skew to form beads, the handle of the tool should be raised significantly as the tool is rolled. A further piece of advice is to use a curved skew such as those listed below, although it is always possible to re-grind a standard skew to this shape. Alternatively, get a Sorby Spindlemaster or Hamlet Spindlemaker!!
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