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Turning green with carbide tools

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brittonc

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Hi all,

I have just picked up a set of carbide tools as I have never turned before. I have a few kiln dried blanks but have a free source of green wood. Can I use carbide tools on green wood or does this cause too much tear out as they scrape rather than cut? I'm hoping to pick up a sharpening system in the next couple of months so I can use the set of HSS tools I was given but want to get some practise in while I'm waiting.

Thanks.
 

dannyr

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Is it you turning green or the wood?

but seriously, some go quite the opposite way and prefer the old carbon tool steel chisels for green wood, and a slower speed.
 

brittonc

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Lol. Yeah, the title wasn't the best! :sneaky:

I thought that might be the case with carbide as I've not been able to find anything online about turning green wood with them. I guess I'll have to buy few more kiln dried blanks for now.
 

marcros

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I have turned green wood with carbide. I haven't really given it much thought. I have gone from carbide to sandpaper and not noticed any more tear out than with any other blanks. Try on a bit of firewood, see how you get on.

Generally with green turning though, people rough out the items to be finished later. It isn't something I do much of, so maybe some items are done from start to finish in one go.
 

brittonc

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That's good to hear, thanks. I've never turned before so didn't want to waste good blanks if I could help it. My brother has a couple of acres of forest and has a few trees the need felling so have plenty of green wood to practise on.
 

marcros

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there are many courses and guides so do have a look.

you could do a lot worse than get some simple softwood from a builders merchant. 2x2, 3x3, whatever. get it from square to round, over and over. Fence posts, new or old are good too for practice. You probably wont get the greatest finish on softwood, but you will start to understand what to do and how it all works.

Green wood logs are good, but they may be a bit big to start with and may be out of balance, neither of which are ideal for an absolute beginner. I would save good blanks for a while, but you can get some nice blanks for not much money, so if you have a plan to make something specific, I would use something that you like. Oak, Ash, Sycamore, etc are sensibly priced.

After not too long, turning round to square gets a bit boring, so dont be afraid to have a go at some easy projects. risk a cheap blank, because there is nothing worse than executing something perfectly and wishing that you have used good wood!
 

McAldo

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Green wood is huge fun to turn, because it is very easy and a sharp tool will leave a very good satisfying finish.
Carbide tools are not necessarily scrapers. Mine can get really longs shavings out of green wood and give a good finish.

The main problem with green wood is that once turned will very rapidly loose moisture and crack. There are many, and very different, approaches to try and get around that. Some will turn a bunch of bowls roughly and then let them dry very slowly in paper bags or newspapers. Sealing the end grain with PVC glue helps slowing drying even further, so less chances of cracks, which anyway do happen. If you turn in a shed or other humid place, you could leave them there for a few months and then let them dry further indoor. The environment determines the moisture content in wood, so drying in a not to so dry shed, finishing turning it and then bringing the piece inside can lead to it cracking.
Others turn green bowls with very thin walls, which takes skills. The result is that the wood will still move when drying, so the shape will change, but it might not crack. Once I read from a turner who did the above, but the would also put the piece briefly in a microwave, while still wet, and bend it with pliers while warm, fashioning into creative shapes. Never tried that, and using the kitchen microwave would probably lead to divorce, but it sounds like fun.

If you do not care about your first experiments to crack later on, by all means use green wood for practising though. It is fun to work with.
Just, if you are given logs which were left outside for a while, make sure you are not turning anything with cracks. It can break apart while turning and that is dangerous. Same with spalted (rotten) wood. It can make for really nice figures, but it is fragile, can be hard on the hedge of your tools and some molds are quite bad to breath.

Marcros suggestion to try softwood posts is pretty good I think. A while ago I bought some to spend a few weeks turning only with a skew, turning mainly eggs, and I learned a lot. I am still bad at it, but much better than before at least. Soft wood like pine turn easily but also marks easily when your tool slips, and requires very sharp tools and decent tecnique to get a reasonably good finish. If you learn how to do that, you will probably become quite confident when working with harder woods.

And, as a completely unrelated and unrequested piece of advice, if you are starting is better to turn a lot trying to get right one aspect (one shape, one type of cut, one tool), than to to turn less while trying to get it all perfect.
Actually, I read somewhere interesting about this. It is about pottery, but I think it applies to turning too.
A college pottery teacher once did an experiment. He told half of his class that their final grade would be about quality. They could submit even only one piece, but if that was high quality as for shape, design and finish they would get a good grade.
He told to the other half of the students that their grade would depend on.. weight. They could submit as many pieces as they liked, and the total weight would make their grade, or break if it was not enough.
One would expect the first group to submit the nicest pieces, given they could focus on one single idea and make it perfect, and the second group to produce a bunch of so and so stuff.
But in reality the second group did better then the first. There was a bunch of rubbish of course, but most "grade by the pound" students submitted higher quality work than the other group.

Essentially, if you get good enough to replicate the same shapes and cuts precisely and confidently, it will not matter a lot if you come up with a good shape while practising on rubbish wood. You will be able to replicate it with a piece of good wood. Lots of practise can help taking luck out of the equation.
 
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k1w1

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Hi
I’m a relative newbie as well and went and had a one day workshop with a tutor. No point in spending ages Re-inventing the wheel and meant I started with good habits and a good understanding of the different directions I wanted to follow. Also meant I bought the tools and sharpening system best for my needs instead of finishing up with a wall full of things I won’t use. I will buy extra tools as I improve
Enjoy
Cheers
 

brittonc

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Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate you all taking the time to give advice and ideas. I'd like to get proper HSS tools and a sharpening system in the coming months but want to learn the basics with the carbide while I'm saving for these bits.

I like the idea of trying to gain one skill well before moving on to the next and as I can get a supply of fresh green wood, this seems like a good option. I'm not bothered too much if it cracks after, so long as I can start producing consistent shapes. If I get something that actually looks OK then I might try sealing/drying it to see what happens. All part of the journey!

I've got a Record Power CL3 lathe and will be building a stand for it over the next week so hope to be turning very soon.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.
 
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