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Cheap beginners gouge sets

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MarkDennehy

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So, okay, lathe bought. Lathe stand being made. Turning course started and I even survived my first evening messing about on a DML36SH.



See? I couldn't have just stolen that image off shutterstock, their photos are waaay higher quality, and I'm typing it rather than this being someone else typing it after I died because I shoved a skew chisel somewhere the lathe didn't want it and it threw it through my head. At least, so far as you know. You may have to take my word on it.

All of which is leading up to saying that if I spend five hundred euro on a cryogenically treated high-speed steel set of tools with bubinga handles and a fancy leather-lined wooden case hand-carved from a log by Fred Follansbee (he charges more than Peter does), then the next few euro I spend will be on a divorce lawyer, so - who makes cheap beginners toolkits for turning on this side of the Atlantic? Our version of PSI Woodworking, but not so cheap as to buy from Silverline. All the beginners guide's I've been able to find on this side of the ocean have a great consensus on what the contents of the kit should be - roughing gouge, spindle gouge, skew, parting tool, bowl gouge and possibly a scraper but maybe not. But nobody's spilling the beans on who the schools buy their tools from, you know the ones I mean, the ones that aren't so cheap that you can't let kids use them for fear the steel will snap and kill them, but which are cheap enough that you don't kill the kids yourself for storing them in a box with the edges all banging off one another.



Jaysus lads. That reminds me, I have a nearly religious need to make a lathe tool stand as well now...
 

Robbo3

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Mark, please keep the flowery language to a minimum. It makes it harder to discern what the actual question is.
One of the cheapest sets @ £90 is from Rutlands
- https://www.rutlands.co.uk/sp+hand-tool ... k6712#nogo
Also if you get back ache it will probably be because the lathe is mounted too far away from the front edge of the table. You may have to change the table or prop it up at the front if you do decide to move the lathe.
 

SVB

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Is there a question here? Thought you were asking about who’s starter set to buy but the photo shows a whole box full of tools?

Confused!

Simon
 

gog64

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Hi Mark,

I bought the Axminster starter set here:

https://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-c ... set-106153

And they are fine, a good introduction to the essential tools. They arrived a bit blunt, but when sharpened properly they hold an edge well. You’ll need a way to sharpen them, so budget for that as well. The bowl and spindle gouges have a standard grind, so if you prefer a fingernail profile, you’ll need to regrind to that. I find these Axi tools are a little on the small size for my hands, so have bought some Robert Sorby tools to supplement the set. In hindsight I would have paid a little more and bought tools individually that suited me and the work I enjoy doing. However, at the time I was still struggling to understand what each was for!

What I didn’t realise then is that the UK is absolutely spoilt for choice on woodturning tools as many of the quality brands are made here. So buying again as a complete beginner I would be tempted by one of these sets:

https://www.turners-retreat.co.uk/start ... of-6/p1038

Or...

https://www.ashleyilestoolstore.co.uk/t ... urning-set

Or...

https://www.toolpost.co.uk/product/jour ... ning-tools

I hope that helps.
 

That would work

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I think this answers your question:
Buy few good tools rather than sets of cheap.
You might want to look at buying un-handled tools and turning your own.
Here's what I would say is a good start -
3/4 roughing gouge
1/2 bowl gouge
3/4 skew chisel
1/2 spindle gouge
1/8 parting tool
A flat scraper

You can do nearly everything with these and can always add as you need. Go for Sorby, Henry Taylor or comparable.
 

Trainee neophyte

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Robbo3":nus9ootg said:
Mark, please keep the flowery language to a minimum. It makes it harder to discern what the actual question is.
I rather like flowery language. I rather like seeing someone just starting out on the voyage of discovery, full of enthusiasm and anticipation, unaware of the years of disappointment and self-flagellation that await. I can't help with the request for tool recommendation though, so extra-busy people may want to avoid reading this post at all. Perhaps I should have put that bit at the beginning?
 

MarkDennehy

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Thanks folks, I hadn't realised I was being overly obtuse but I suppose that comes from the nerves that standing up on your hind legs in a group of experts you don't know to ask about something you know little about!

To be almost impolitely clear, the photo of the tools in the box are the school's tools for the course I'm doing, as is the lathe. My lathe is still sitting in a box in my hallway, only taken out so I could measure the bolt pattern in the base to make a lathe stand for it. Since I've not turned before (unless you count messing for an hour with that lidl "lathe" thing, and most people here didn't think that counted), and a lathe is basically a giant power tool - and I don't have a huge amount of casualness around power tools and don't want to develop much more than has been creeping in around the edges of late - I haven't been playing with it until I had a chance to spend a few hours in the course with someone who knows what not to do there to stop me losing fingers or getting a skew chisel through the face.

But what I didn't yet buy, partly for budget reasons, partly for not knowing what manufacturers were good for what, and partly to stop myself playing with it from curiosity before I wanted to, were the actual tools. And what I was thinking would be the safest approach was to buy a basic beginners set because in order to know what individual tools I'd like, I'd have to actually have spent some time at the lathe and, well, this is a bootstrapping problem. So I don't mind if the tools are second hand (most of my tool wall is older than I am and I think I only have six or seven tools that I bought new) and I don't mind if they're carbon steel instead of HSS and I grind them all away in the first two years because my current grinder isn't a slow-speed nor is the wheel a CBN. If anything, it'll teach me to sharpen better. (Yes, I would hate it by the end, learning is always a painful experience).

What I would mind would be buying a silverline bowl gouge and having it snap on me, bounce around the shed and burying itself in my ear. So cheap and not necessarily the best available, but not stupid cheap and good enough to start with is what I'm looking for. My normal chisels don't get run over a kilometer of wood every other minute when in use so this is a whole other kettle of fish I'm in here. If I wanted "cheap but good enough to get started with and you can buy better later when you know more" in chisels I'd know who to recommend, but I've no idea where to start for turning, and while everyone seems to agree on what should be in the basic beginners' kit, finding out who to buy them from and what name to look for on the sticker is... murkier at best.
 

SVB

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Look for crown, Ashley isles, Sorby, Henry Taylor, hamlet or axmister (who’s tools are made by hamlet iirc) on eBay and you won’t go far wrong. The list above is a good starter set of 6. Go for HSS rather than carbon steel if you’re using a full speed grinder with aggressive wheel (for heat rather than life reasons) and remember a spindle roughing gouge is just that, for spindles not side grain / bowl work.

Final point, avoid anything second hand made from old files / repurposed machine hacksaw blades etc. Not worth the risk!

Simon
 

Tris

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I think the list That would work posted is spot on, I'd only add get yourself a round bar skew, instead of a standard type. I used to dread using a skew to turn beads but the round one works brilliantly.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Buy your spindle turning tools first, then you've the option of buying more unhandled and making your own. I find sets annoying, I'd rather have different handles on everything. Ashley Iles sell them unhandled, they are a bit expensive but probably the best of the lot.
 

Phil Pascoe

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That would work":3bqye0zs said:
I think this answers your question:
Buy few good tools rather than sets of cheap.
You might want to look at buying un-handled tools and turning your own.
Here's what I would say is a good start -
3/4 roughing gouge
1/2 bowl gouge
3/4 skew chisel
1/2 spindle gouge
1/8 parting tool
A flat scraper

You can do nearly everything with these and can always add as you need. Go for Sorby, Henry Taylor or comparable.
a sound choice, but for a learner with a fairly small lathe I'd go smaller on both gouges. On the club machines I used to use the standard equipment was a 3/8th bowl and a 3/8th spindle.
 

RickG

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There are some good pointers above. All I would add is, when looking for tools on EvilBay, look at the usable length of blade left on tools being sold. It seems there are a few folk who sell spindle gouges with about 1.5" of blade left. This is all good for a while, but you'll soon find a time when they're hard to fit in a sharpening jig.
 

Dalboy

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Cheap is a false economy

The list stated earlier I would change so that it read

3/4" roughing gouge
3/8" bowl gouge
3/4" skew chisel
3/8" or 1/4" spindle gouge
1/8 parting tool
A flat scraper.

All of these can be brought in the set by Robert Sorby at a lower cost than buying separately.
I was fortunate that I won this set but have found that I use all of them on a regular basis.
 

MarkDennehy

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Cheap's only a false economy if the tool is cheap rather than low-cost though.

Or to be more verbose, my first chisels didn't cost much money so they were cheap in that sense; but they were made in sheffield by footprint fifty years ago so they weren't low quality, just low cost. And Lidl/Aldi's cheap chisels aren't quite as good but if you wanted to give someone a first chisel so they could learn to freehand sharpen without ruining an ashley isles dovetail chisel, well, that's not a false economy, it's a good fit to the task. Whereas a new Stanley chisel is usually just... cheap. Low quality. Not really good for a whole lot other than beating on into white deal on a building site.

Me, I'm probably going to ruin the first set of turning tools because I'll be a hamfisted newbie with a fast grinder and a grey wheel without a wolverine/kodiak/alaskan rabbit jig, so I'd rather do that on a cheap-but-not-stupidly-low-quality tool than on something someone more competent could have used to make something beautiful.

So if it's the kind of cheap set that a secondary school would buy for its woodwork class, that'd be perfect. Short flutes? They're going to get shorter, no worries. Cheap ash handles? No worries, I'll learn to make better ones and bootstrap myself upwards. Carbon steel instead of HSS? Well, it'll mean more sharpening but what amateur doesn't need more practice even if they don't really want it? Bowl gouge that isn't tempered right and will snap and go flying around an 8x6 shed where I've nothing to duck behind? Yeah, not so good, that's kindof why I was asking - so I'd avoid that scenario.

Does that make sense? (As in, does it sound logical or does it sound ignorant?)
 

That would work

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MarkDennehy":3gxf1mb7 said:
Cheap's only a false economy if the tool is cheap rather than low-cost though.

Or to be more verbose, my first chisels didn't cost much money so they were cheap in that sense; but they were made in sheffield by footprint fifty years ago so they weren't low quality, just low cost. And Lidl/Aldi's cheap chisels aren't quite as good but if you wanted to give someone a first chisel so they could learn to freehand sharpen without ruining an ashley isles dovetail chisel, well, that's not a false economy, it's a good fit to the task. Whereas a new Stanley chisel is usually just... cheap. Low quality. Not really good for a whole lot other than beating on into white deal on a building site.

Me, I'm probably going to ruin the first set of turning tools because I'll be a hamfisted newbie with a fast grinder and a grey wheel without a wolverine/kodiak/alaskan rabbit jig, so I'd rather do that on a cheap-but-not-stupidly-low-quality tool than on something someone more competent could have used to make something beautiful.

So if it's the kind of cheap set that a secondary school would buy for its woodwork class, that'd be perfect. Short flutes? They're going to get shorter, no worries. Cheap ash handles? No worries, I'll learn to make better ones and bootstrap myself upwards. Carbon steel instead of HSS? Well, it'll mean more sharpening but what amateur doesn't need more practice even if they don't really want it? Bowl gouge that isn't tempered right and will snap and go flying around an 8x6 shed where I've nothing to duck behind? Yeah, not so good, that's kindof why I was asking - so I'd avoid that scenario.

Does that make sense? (As in, does it sound logical or does it sound ignorant?)
Frankly, no that does not make complete sense. Perhaps I have misread.
However, stick to the suggested list (be they bought separately or the sorby set as suggested above and you will be very well set up.
You are making a big mistake to assume that you are going to spoil things therefore get lesser quality tools. Or have I read it wrong... #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o
 

MarkDennehy

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I'm not saying I'm going to try to ruin them or that they'll be the only tools I'll ever own, I'm saying that in learning to do all this (including learning to hand-sharpen), I fully expect not to get it right on the first try despite giving it best efforts. So I'm not thinking to buy a set of all PM HSS tools, the same way you wouldn't think to buy a *new* Rolls for junior's first driving lesson, but to have Jeeves get him a second-hand Rolls instead (oh, the hardship of it all).
 

RickG

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Mark, there are 2 things in your last, long, post that are a touch worrying.
You're saying about sharpening freehand with a grey wheel. If you do this you are certainly trying to make life hard for yourself.

The results you will get from sharpening like this will be awful and turning anything with the edge you get from these will be equally dire.

Please do try to get a grinder with a white wheel. Also you'll do well to get a simple jig such as:

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 2535647760
 

MarkDennehy

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I was definitely planning on upgrading to a slow speed grinder with a CBN wheel and a jig Rick, but the timetable for that is budget-driven, so it won't be until a few months after the lathe stand is finished and the lathe would just be sitting there mocking me if I didn't at least try. Grey wheels aren't the right tool for the job I know, but for the moment it'll be all I have. It'll be a short moment, but even so...
 
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