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Turning hard wood

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Pete Hughes

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Hello, I am turning (excuse the pun) to the more knowledgeable than myself. I have been woodworking for some considerable time know, and turning is new to me.
I am making an attempt to turn a piece of what I believe to be elm, I am struggling to get a good finish, at one stage when using a half inch skew I could see sparks coming off the end of the chisel. I have used a brand new bowl gouge but it still is not a good finish. I understand that some out there will put it down to inexperience but even sanding is taking an age to dress it. Is there such a thing as too hard a wood to turn. Never had issues with hand tools.
Pete
 

Doug B

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Perhaps try another piece of hardwood of a different species if you’re having the same problems it’s technique be that sharpening or tool presentation, if not you may have found a particularly nasty piece of timber.
 

Argus

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Elm? Sparks coming off Elm?
Elm is a moderately hard wood in general terms, but will cut and turn OK...... an interlocked grain needs a lot of sanding.
Are there any bits of metal or stone included? You shouldn't get sparks coming off it.
 

Blister

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A close inspection of the wood is required as you should NOT get any sparks , You may have a nail or screw in the timber , Get the best finish you can with a gouge then change to a scraper , What is it you are turning ?
Sanding is the last thing you need to do once the turning is done , Please don't try and sand out chisel marks You should have a good finnish from the tool
 

Phil Pascoe

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I am making an attempt to turn a piece of what I believe to be elm, I am struggling to get a good finish, at one stage when using a half inch skew I could see sparks coming off the end of the chisel. I have used a brand new bowl gouge but it still is not a good finish.
You're spindle turning I presume, to be using a skew, in which case a bowl gouge isn't the tool to use.
 

Argus

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Have you tried another piece of different wood?

Personally, I'd ditch that Elm. It must have some bits embedded in it. in any case, I'd re-sharpen all your tools and get the chips out!

Not unknown. There's an Ash tree down the road from me with a complete concrete post sticking out of it and another group of Ash stumps in the field at the back here that contains a complete cast Iron Harrow with about four feet of it inside the tree. In fact many London trees that are 100 years plus in age contain bits of shrapnel. Saw-mills won't touch that stuff with a barge pole.

I bought some quarter-sawn Oak about 20 years ago (French in origin, I think) that was lovely stuff..... made a dining table out of it............ but bits of it contained a few lead bullets. They didn't damage my tools at all and the bits that I cut out have been a conversation piece ever since.
So, it isn't unusual to get bits in the middle of an ordinary bit of wood.
.........not always what you want, though!
 
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ScaredyCat

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If it smells like someone vacated their bowel in your workshop, it's elm.
 

treeturner123

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I remember talking to a saw mill owner some time ago who wouldn't have any more Plain Trees from London.

Too much shrapnel kept blunting his saw!!

Phil
 

Nelly111s

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Is it a spindle you’re turning or a bowl? Either way, don’t use a skew if you’re a beginner. But in any event , sparks should only be for the grinder, not timber. Harder timber is great to turn, you just can’t take too much off in one cut, but the upside is a great finish from the tool, before sanding.
 

jrm688

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A friend of mine had sparks coming off his chainsaw when taking down some cherry trees. The trees were on his beach front lot. He concluded that the wind forced sand into the bark and as the tree grew the sand was incorporated into the wood. Did your elm come from a sandy area?
 

Adam Pinson

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Is it a spindle you’re turning or a bowl? Either way, don’t use a skew if you’re a beginner. But in any event , sparks should only be for the grinder, not timber. Harder timber is great to turn, you just can’t take too much off in one cut, but the upside is a great finish from the tool, before sanding.
Maybe it's a rock, try wiping the dirt off :)
 

Pete Hughes

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Thank you all for your replies/advice, appreciate it. I’m turning a bowl, a small one about 4ins. I was using the skew to cut a small V in the lip (decorative) and it was the toe that “sparked”. It took the edge off and I had to spend some time sharpening. I’ve stopped work on it now, I’ve got a piece of ash rigged up now and after running a slip stone down the flute of the bowl gouge it seems as though I’m back in business.
I will be cautious, thank you, I watch you tube vids to get tuition and a method of work. I would if possible love to get booked on a course but???
Thanks again all
Pete
 

minilathe22

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I have seen small hand held metal detectors, I am debating getting one after trying to cut through a large screw and messing up the end of a hollowing tool with a circular tip, difficult to regrind by hand.
 
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